Dog owners, consider this a content warning: in form, Atelier About Architecture’s latest project is emotional. In function, it’s equal parts thoughtful and impressive, the type of residence we wish every furry friend could have. Named simply The Dog House, it’s a 4,300-square-foot, three-storey Beijing home that carefully considers the habits and needs of the house pet. And those of its owner, of course.
Upon stepping into the home, the most visible dog-oriented design choice is the colour palette – which is attuned to a pup’s colour spectrum. Dogs, contrary to popular belief, aren’t colourblind, though they perceive a narrower range of hues than humans do. They can see yellows and blues, says the American Kennel Club, but greens and reds appear greyish brown.
The colours used on each floor demarcate usage. Muted monochromatic palettes – understandable to both human and dog – dominate the main floor’s kitchen, dining and living room and the second floor’s bedroom; these are the spaces largely intended for the human inhabitants. But Atelier About’s work truly shines on the lower level, which was designed exclusively for the owner’s canine friend. Here, from the eyes of a dog, things come alive.
The effort Atelier About, led by Ni Wang, Dawei Zhang, Daguang Shou and Lei Wang, put into creating a “colourful world for the dog” went beyond layers of paint. Using diffused Viabizzuno lighting, textured tiling and contrasting colours by Dulux, the Beijing firm imagined a space that provided depth and wayfinding. To human eyes, the above images pop with pink; to a dog, the rosy colours would appear grey, contrasting against multiple hues of blue.
The lower floor was designed around canine comfort – and the fact that the owner’s dog suffers from congenital joint disease. It features an operation space with a custom-made stepped table for physical examinations (above). Slippery floors – like polished concrete or hardwood – can be tough to navigate for dogs with joint issues, so a medical-grade soft coating was applied to ramps, stairs and flooring.
It’s a touch veterinarians would surely appreciate.
The operation space is flanked by two dog-specific bathrooms, each with dry and wet areas. One features a shower – whose height was determined “after long-term observation on the living habits of the owner and the dog,” says the firm – while the other features a bathtub imprinted with paw prints. The latter is surrounded by Kvadrat acoustic drapes, which dampens the sound of barking (and, likely, the dog’s anxiety) while bathing.
Atelier About says the project consistently challenged their abilities – most projects consider the needs of human users, few place emphasis on pets. But the firm considers the project a unique success, and one that articulates the deep bond between pet and owner. “Whenever we see the owner and their beloved dog living and playing together inside the house, we are always touched by the love between them,” it says. “That love is expressed beyond the presentation of architecture and design skills.”
Dogs are often called a person’s best friend. Dog House proves that feeling is mutual.