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Double Take: Did MoMA Drop a Mini House at the Yard?

The bold colors, use of rhythms and space of Piet Mondrian’s work are not only a significant influence on severe modernists, but they’re also able to supply a lot of pleasure for those kiddos. At least architect Stephen J. Vanze of Barnes Vanze Architects thinks so. When a builder pal out of Bethesda Contracting approached him about a playhouse auction to benefit Rebuilding Together for Montgomery County, Maryland, he knew that the vibrant, grid-based iconic works of Mondrian could be the perfect inspiration to get the playhouse’s design parameters.

The challenge was to design and construct an interesting and outstanding playhouse in 10 feet by 8 feet by 11 feet, modular and snobby, simply constructed and a source of entertainment for young minds. Another concern for Vanze was the future — what will occur when the kids grow up and leave the nest. “We thought it should be a beautiful object that stands on its own when the children had outgrown it,” he states. Following is a peek at this playful garden arrangement.

Project at a Glance
Size:10 feet by 8 feet by 11 feet
Budget: About $25,000 to assemble, given by the builder
Charity: Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit housing organization that offers free home repairs to low-income homeowners.

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

The playhouse is attractive not only to children as a garden fort for covert meetings and drama, but also to adult lovers of modern art.

According to the design parameters, the prefab arrangement had to be mounted on a flatbed truck to the auction winner’s location.

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

A large chalkboard wall inside gives kids a way to make the area their own. I know my friends and I’d have enjoyed to play college in here. Vanze’s wife, Judith Halsey, had some fun using the chalkboard herself, drawing what you see here for the photo shoot.

Vanze also contained a glass panel in the floor with the concept that homeowners can place it over a small koi pond. This made us imagine it like an ice fishing shack. Can you imagine how this arrangement will stick out on a frozen Minnesota lake?

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

Built-ins provide space for books, toys and equipment and a cozy window seat. An upstairs loft in the cupola provides a secret fort inside the playhouse.

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

Windows from the loft look out to a green roof and supply a clerestory for the remainder of the space. These windows are operable for ventilation.

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

The team made sustainability a priority. The LED lights at the playhouse are all powered by a solar panel on the roof, and the rest of the roof is still green. The white cladding is Azek panels, that can be composed of recycled PVC.

Before Photo

Because Azek panels can be painted only specific colors due to the simple fact that they expand and contract, the bright-colored panels are medium density overlay; red, blue and yellow paint could have cracked eventually on Azek panels. Here is the arrangement in procedure — what a difference color makes!

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

Vanze integrated windows into the rectilinear pattern in different sizes, some simply right for glancing out.

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

The windows also let in a lot of natural light, therefore throughout the daytime the playhouse doesn’t need artificial lights.

The higher part of this ceiling is 7 ft high. I don’t know about you, but the longer I look at this, the more I imagine it like a grownup’s backyard office. In addition, I imagine it available as a flat-packed modular structure that individuals could place in a large loft as artwork that functions as a room in a room, or inside a playroom with high ceilings.

How would you use it? Let us know in the Comments!

More: The most incredible playhouse you’ll ever see

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