COLUMBIA — In a backyard just starting to show signs of spring, a group of aspiring architects and interior designers were at work building a doghouse resembling an Airstream trailer.
The members of the construction crew are part of the U.S. Green Building Council Student Group at MU and make up one of seven groups participating in the first Barkitecture event in Missouri.
The mid-Missouri chapter of the American Institute of Architects is hosting the event, inviting teams to build unique, environmentally sustainable doghouses that will be auctioned off to benefit the Central Missouri Humane Society, which will use the proceeds to fund routine expenses.
“It will help with vet and surgery costs as well as buying food for the animals,” said Allison Toth, shelter relations coordinator.
Doghouses need to meet several requirements. They cannot be larger than four feet by five feet by four feet, need to weigh less than 250 pounds and be functional and weather resistant. Teams were urged to use green concepts and materials.
MU senior Ann Rothove, president of the university's U.S. Green Building Council Student Group, said the organization is making its doghouse green by reusing leftover materials from previous projects. Rothove said hardly any of its materials had to be purchased.
“I think a lot of people think of sustainable building as expensive, but this just goes to show it doesn’t cost much at all,” she said. The team spent about 15 hours on the doghouse over the past three weeks.
Finished doghouses will be displayed on the Boone County Courthouse lawn from April 3 to 9, and they will be auctioned off April 10.
Other cities that have held Barkitecture events have brought in anywhere from $500 to $2,000 for each completed doghouse.
“We’re hoping for at least a couple thousand dollars, but we're not really sure since it's our first year," Toth said. "We are hoping for a large turn out."
Chelsea Bandy, co-founder of Animal Lovers of Austin Inc., which hosts the Barkitecture event in Austin, Texas, said the event has been providing dogs across the city with homes resembling everything from hot dogs to hollow logs.
“It’s not a big money maker, but it's more of a fun event that our city enjoys having,” Bandy said.
Several awards will be given out to the competing doghouses, including the People’s Choice award, the Kid’s Choice award, the "Top Dollar" award — given to the doghouse auctioned off for the most money — the "Green" award and the Dog’s Choice award. The distinguished panel for the Dog’s Choice award will include shelter dogs from the Humane Society.
“We’re probably going to get an exuberant dog or a couple of dogs and walk them by and see if they express interest in a particular one, and hopefully they will cooperate,” Toth said.
A group of second- to fourth-grade Girl Scouts is participating in the event by building a doghouse resembling a house with a front porch. The house is titled, "House of Pawsibilities."
“I think the dogs are really going to like it," said 9-year-old Morgan Foree. "It's going to be nice and big for our dog to wander around in."
Eight-year-old Maddie Renner said she initially had an idea to make the doghouse look like something a dog would like, such as a tennis ball or a shoe. But she said she likes the new design, too.
“It’s something all the little dogs would love to have,” Renner said, munching on a carrot. “A cute little doghouse.”