Meet the Barkitects

07th April 2022

Goodwood is famous for its 18th-century kennels, created by a starchitect of his day, Sir James Wyatt. So where better to host an architectural competition dedicated to abodes for today’s lucky canines, judged by design guru and dog-lover Kevin McCloud.

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  • Barkitecture


The Kennels will be hosting Goodwood's brand new dog event, Goodwoof on 28th and 29th May. Central to the event will be an exhibition of the shortlisted entries to a very contemporary architectural competition, Barkitecture. It will feature diverse and entertaining responses to a callout for homes for hounds, with wellbeing at their heart. The competition was initiated just before Covid disrupted our diaries, when the Duke teamed up with an authority on architectural adventuring, Kevin McCloud. Together they wrote to 40 architectural practices and schools, inviting fresh thinking for this neglected area of design.

As a dog lover himself, Kevin McCloud helped to define the Barkitecture brief. “With regard to architecture for human beings, Vitruvius talked of firmness, commodity and delight, and I believe these are key as well for animals,” he explains. “You want a home that is really well built, commodious and properly designed for a dog in all its needs. And you also want it, of course, to be a beautiful thing – though trying to figure out what a dog thinks is beautiful may be something of a mythical objective.”


Dog lover and the face of Channel 4’s Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud.

You want a home that is really well built, commodious and properly designed for a dog in all its needs.

The shortlist of nine standout blueprints include designs from starchitects Foster + Partners, Sir Michael Hopkins and Lord Rogers, respected draughtsmen Lincoln Miles and Michael Russum of Birds Portchmouth and Russum, prize-winning studio Stanton Williams, design doyens Jony Ive and Marc Newson of LoveFrom, and custodian of high-end craft David Linley.


Architects Richard Portchmouth, Michael Russum and Kevin Poon discussing the rot-resistant wood, Accoya.

The office dog was appointed the role of the uncompromising client, and the consultation phase was taken very seriously. For Michael Russum, it was Illy, partner Richard Portchmouth’s dog, who directed the project. Taking the idea of dog-led design a step further, he envisaged a new architectural order. “The elliptical pavilion encircled by a colonnade introduces an important new order of barkitecture – the Boneian Order – to adorn the little palace and joyfully reflect Illy’s regal demeanour.” Though the team stopped short of making a model, the presentation is polished. With the top spend for kennel construction set across the competition at £250, however, the actual finish may be more artisanal, and Russum’s own shed might be seeing some making action between now and the event. With the bone colonnade evoking henges (protective settlements and enclosures), Illy’s new domicile earned the name Bonehenge.


Early sketches of Birds Portchmouth and Russum’s colonnade-inspired Bonehenge.

Little Susie, a mature canine family-member, was Lincoln Miles’s muse, yet inspired something quite different. “Our approach was to build on that sense of irony Little Susie has, and our starting point was the famous Kennels at Goodwood –a masterpiece and forward-thinking in its day,” Miles explains. “Why not consider our bed for Little Susie as a masterpiece for the 20th-century modernist era… but with a sense of humour?” Evoking Le Corbusier and his “Modular man” system, Miles set out his five points of dog architecture, which include the brilliant “Modular Dog needs to see everything and so the facade needs to be unrestricted and structurally sculptural” and “Modular Dog would love a roof terrace to see the world and bake in the sun”. Integral to the design was also the chosen material, cork, a naturally occurring, negative-carbon material that is warm and tactile to touch, breathable, vapour transmissible and odour-controlling. The 100% recyclable outcome, Le Cork’s Ronchamp D’Habitation et Modular Dog, is, we can assume, the kennel of Little Susie’s dreams.


RIBA award-winning architect Lincoln Miles with his wife, artist Lisa Traxler, and their dog, Susie.

Why not consider our bed for Little Susie as a masterpiece for the 20th-century modernist era… but with a sense of humour?

Stanton Williams, meanwhile, took the human-dog relationship as its starting point, and integrated repose for both owner and pooch within its design. The studio also put emphasis on the kennel’s environmental credentials: made from renewable Latvian plywood, the structure is durable and can be dismantled for easy moving. "Nook is conceived as a kennel for the contemporary city dweller, where innercity apartment living is common, space is scarce and every square millimetre counts,” explains Luke O’Bray, whose cockapoo Wilma is the office mascot and project inspiration. “It is part kennel, part armchair and part side table, all within half a square metre.” Wilma, it seems, is a “people dog”, so Nook offers her a place of sanctuary while maintaining a connection to her humans. “The person sitting in the chair can unwind right next to her, maintaining a sense of togetherness, and a ‘treat window’ offers a direct physical link for affection and treats.”


Architecture practice Stanton Williams’ entry, Nook, caters for both dog and owner.

It is part kennel, part armchair and part side table, all within half a square metre.

The Barkitecture creations, in all their hand-finished glory, will make a sensational centrepiece to proceedings at Goodwoof. A panel of judges will pick the winner, taking into account attention to wellbeing, dog-human relationship, resilience and durability in use, sustainability, architectural ambition and joy – for dogs, that is. At the end of the event, the editions of one will be auctioned off by Bonhams, with proceeds going to The Dogs Trust charity. 

You can view all entries for the Barkitecture competition at Goodwoof on 28-29 May.

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  • Barkitecture

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