Life Is A Playhouse

Everyone loves to release their inner child and American architect Bob Borson has been able to do just that.

With the opportunity to help abused and neglected children he created the "Playhouse Competition" as a way of supporting the existing Court Appointed Special Services (CASA) "Parade Of Playhouses" event in Dallas, Texas.

Borson told me that "architects have a skill set that is perfectly suited to charitable work like this and once you realise how great the need is, you can't imagine not doing something to help".

Mark Iscaro's Cosmos3 playhouse was conceived as place where a child can sit and marvel at the sky. Photo: Supplied

His desire for the Playhouse Competition is to see it grow in order to accommodate the needs of CASA and ensure the competition remains free to enter. At this point Life Of An Architect Playhouse Competition provides 33 per cent of the CASA events playhouses and Bob would like to see this number grow – it's a very worthy cause. 

The driving force behind the Playhouse Competition beyond the needs of CASA is Bob's strong desire that even as adults we strive to remember the joys of childhood and that all children regardless of circumstance deserve a chance to share in that joy, especially those in the care of CASA.

The format of the competition is quite simple. Design a playhouse that fits within the following parameters:

  • Maximum height of 2.43 metres
  • Maximum width of 2.28 metres
  • Maximum length of 2.59 metres

An early sketched concept of the Cosmos3 playhouse. Photo: Supplied

Other than getting it in for the due date, it's pretty much open slather aside from common sense.

This year saw 331 entries submitted from 59 countries around the world. A mix of architects, designers and students put forward their ideas of what a playhouse should be. Entries from near and far all striving to create the most unique and inspiring, yet cost-effective playhouses ever seen, all in order to raise money for a worthy charity.

Having watched the last two competitions unfold through social media and being one big kid myself, when I heard about the 2015 competition I began sketching with delight. But what to design?

The Cosmos3 design was selected as a competition finalist. Photo: Supplied

I ended up with a simple yet effective design. A cube. To a child, it's a window to the world of the universe  inspired by my own son, a huge fan of the cosmos himself.

It would be a place a child can sit and marvel at the sky above, day or night, a modern interpretation of an observatory for a modern day child. 

After sketching up my first playhouse design it was time to hit the send button on the email to Borson. I won't lie, the nerves were there, and after all this was my first ever competition entry. Nerves or not I had to wait it out like the rest of the entrants. A few days after the 331 entries were submitted they were reduced to a final 28 through a process of constructabilit and playabilit.

The Cosmos3 reached the final 28 but fell short of winning the competition, but in saying that it was more about the journey than winning and to see the passion put into the other designs was quite something. The winners were recently announced.

Some designs take you straight down memory lane and back to being a child again.