11.06.2012Asheville, Architecture, Community, For Fun

Bow-wowhaus: a Modern Dog House

This month we are participating in the Asheville Bow-Wowhaus which is a fundraiser hosted by AIA Asheville benefiting Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and the Asheville Art Museum. For our part, we are 1 of 10 architects that designed a dog house to be auctioned at a Gala event on Saturday, November 10th. To learn more about the event-check out this link.   Sparc Design is very excited to be a part of this event.  To celebrate these dog houses and this event we have dedicated this post to sharing how we arrived at our own design of a dog bed.

Step 1: Find a Client.

We don’t own a dog and it was important to gather canine lifestyle tips from someone with experience.  Who better than a close friend and dog enthusiast. She shared with us that dogs prefer being close to their owners, like to be slightly elevated, and enjoy resting places inside homes where they can be ‘watch dogs’.  We chose to stay small to allow the owner to move the bed from one room to another. As we sketched out ideas a pattern started to emerge, a nest/egg.


Step 2: Research.

We then started to research typical shapes a dog makes when sleeping.  We call it “research” but that was a couple hours lost on you tube, for instance!  The bed started to take shape and now we needed to identify what we wanted this bed to do.  We decided to keep it very simple: house a dog, house a dog toy.  After a week of research and design we arrived at the concept below:Dog Bed-AIA-Bowwowhause-Process2


Step 3: Fabrication.

From our experiences in school we knew that there were some pretty sophisticated tools out there to help us.  We quickly landed on a CNC router for producing the pieces and forms needed, but we didn’t have this expensive machine in our woodshop.  A cold call to Forest Millwork turned into a friendly and welcoming conversation. Al Tenan and the crew at Forest Millwork were gracious enough to help us with our ‘pet’ project. Once we knew we had access to a router, we generated the pieces with some back and forth in Illustrator, AutoCad and SketchUp.  Forest Millworks’ CNC bed is a large 5’x16′, so this was an easy project for them. We used 4’x8′ sheets of 1/4″ mdf “nesting” the pieces on 5 sheets to maximize efficiency and reduce waste. In all we ended up with 33 unique pieces which the guys at Forest Millwork kindly labeled.  Here are the pieces laid out by number.  On the left starts the bottom pieces moving to the top of the bed on the right.

Dog Bed-AIA-Bowwowhause-Process1


If you have never seen a CNC Router in action here is a quick video:

Forest Milwork CNC Router

Step 4: Assembly.

Drawing from the many late night models built during school, we learned alignment is important for a quality finished product.  To assist us in the tedious task we used dowels and holes to align the various pieces. This is especially helpful when every single piece is unique and they do not stack up uniformly or vertically. If you look closely, you can see our feline friend watching with curiosity.



Step 5: Finishing!

Once completely assembled and sanded, we provided the finishing touches.  This is always a moment to hold your breath.  Painting, staining, etc can drastically change a design.


When designing the bed we decided to reflect the idea of a “watch dog” by eliminating some of the pieces at one end.  This allows the pup to be laying with its head down but can see out through the slats.

Dog Bed-AIA-Bowwowhause-Large


We made a nice soft bedding with hypoallergenic stuffing and a houndstooth fabric (yes-we were getting playful with the dog pun!). The bedding is removable and a perfect fit since the base was also a fabricated using the CNC Router.Initially, we considered keeping the mdf natural, but the material is highly susceptible to swelling when exposed to moisture and a dog’s tongue is certainly that. We finished the bed with a couple coats of primer/sealer and a final coat of non-toxic paint.

Dog Bed-AIA-Bowwowhause-Detail1


Dog Bed-AIA-Bowwowhause-Header

We hope this dog bed finds a good home for a great dog!


We would like to give a huge thank you to Forest Millwork. They let us go a little crazy, and for that-we are forever grateful!  If you have some time come out Saturday, November 10th to support a great cause and see some amazing dog houses and beds.

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