These aren't your typical Barbie Dream Houses.
Twenty acclaimed modern architects were enlisted by British property developer Cathedral Group to design one-of-a-kind dollhouses customized for children with special needs. The items will help Cathedral raise funds for improving these children's lives.
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The developer curated an exhibition of the houses which was displayed at the London Design Festival in late September, and recently put the houses for sale in an online auction. They will be officially sold at a special event in November. Cathedral is hoping that the houses will raise raise 100,000 pounds (about $160,000) for KIDS, a charity that helps children and young people with disabilities and the families who support them.
Cathedral instructed the participating architects to collaborate with artists and designers and create dollhouses that incorporated ways to improve the lives and playtimes of disabled children. The designers were to build a dollhouse on a foundation measuring 29.5 square inches, drawing inspiration from British architect Edwin Lutyens's famous dollhouse of 1922, which was a perfect miniature replica of an aristocratic mansion.
Each architect created a unique item designed for users with a range of sensory and learning disabilities.
Putting together a dollhouse for children with visual impairments, James Ramsey Raad Studio collaborated with artist Lara Apponyi to recreate the nervous excitement of reading the story "Hansel and Gretel." The story is written in Braille on the exterior of the house, while tactile "illustrations" -- tiny sculptures of plot elements like candy and braided hair -- decorate the house's interior.
Another house let kids play the role of the architect. Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands collaborated with Azur-MGM Modelmakers and built a house comprised of dozens of tiny rooms that can be taken apart and rearranged in endless combos. This playhouse is particularly well-suited to children with visual impairments, for whom interactive movement-oriented learning is ideal.
Infusing their house with a bit of whimsy, Guy Holloway and Hemingway Design based their creation on a jack-in-the-box toy. Upon opening, the seemingly normal dollhouse reveals a giant inflatable room for children to play inside.
Take a look at the slideshow (below) to see these and other dollhouses from the exhibit. Visit the fundraising page for the project to see all 20 of the designs.