Curving concrete. Modular construction. Sustainable materials. Roof gardens. These are the elements of some of the finest architectural projects across the globe. It just so happens those dwellings belong to cats, not people.
In an annual event, the nonprofit Architects for Animals rallied several of the most celebrated architecture firms in the world to design a series of cat shelters that wouldn’t be out of place in a designer living room. The goal is to create awareness for the safety and well-being of our feline friends. But the project is a spectacle of design, which marries well-considered cat housing with some extremely memorable creations.
Take the Cat Cube, by Abramson Architects. It’s a modular geometric system with a truly sculptural form, built by combining several linoleum cubes with simple magnets. The cubes provide a place to hide, perch, and play. And each cube floor is a swappable textile, like carpet tiles and pet grass. (Note: I would buy this from Ikea if it were available!)
The Clawed Purrent, by Perkins + Will, is a wildly different beast. It’s a tower of tilting canvases which rest almost like a series of hammocks. “In a parallel universe where cats rule the Earth, French architect Clawed Purrent revolutionized 20th century space making,” the firm explains. “Clawed’s investigation of the Oblique Function, which emphasizes sloped surfaces, brought contemporary architecture into the purred dimension.” Translation: Cats would love this as an alternative, or supplement, to your curtains.
Then there’s a mixed-use cube by HOK. The porthole construction invites cats into a cardboard lair (cats love cardboard), which is wrapped in acrylic to give the box an iPhone-like sheen. The entire structure doubles as a seat for human companions too—should the cat allow it.
The Cat Pod, by Standard Architecture, offers kittens a prefabricated, vaulted concrete shell. It’s a structure that’s probably more robust than your wood-framed house. Meanwhile, teak wood forms the door, and a wool felt serves as a soft floor that you just know cats are going to obsessively paw at for hours on end.
And of course, no cat furniture collection would be complete without an inexplicable link to Star Wars. The Rise of SkyWhisker, by Stantec, takes some liberties with canon by placing the character Luke SkyWhisker into a structure that appears to be the Death Claw, run by the Galactic Dogpire; “when completed, this fur-midable weapon in the catmousephere will spell certain doom for the small litter of kittens struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy.” In any case, it all equates to a very cozy little nook for cats.
And while most pet owners can’t imagine springing to commission an international architecture firm to handle their pet-related designs, it’s unbelievable to me that beige-carpet-wrapped wood is still the de facto way we offer comfort to our cats. With some exception, the materials in these designs aren’t very precious or difficult to mass-produce. We really could build these things, en masse, for our favorite, four-legged rulers of our families.