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Daniel Campos, Barkitecture

Episode 22 | October 16, 2018

If you love dogs and have an eye for design, you don’t want to miss Barkitecture Austin! Board member and eight-year barkitect Daniel Campos, who is a Senior Project Manager at PLACE designers, inc. by day, tells us about green building trends in doghouses including solar power, shares some of his favorite designs from past years, and encourages everyone to attend this fun, one-of-a-kind annual fundraiser benefiting Bastrop Animal Rescue, Emancipet, and PALS (a Meals on Wheels Central Texas program).

About Barkitecture

Barkitecture extends an open invitation to designers, architects, builders, and students to design and build doghouses that are submitted for an annual award and then auctioned off to the community. Between 18 and 20 doghouses are entered each year by a diverse and growing number of barkitects. The entries come from some of the biggest names in the local architectural community to student teams from Austin Community College and Round Rock High School. One year the Best in Show winner was even designed by Erick Millan, a California architect who also happens to be the brother of Cesar "The Dog Whisperer" Millan, and built locally.

The funds raised from the silent auction are donated to local non-profits that benefit dogs. In 2018, the recipients are:

  • Emancipet, which provides low-cost services for dogs and other pets
  • Bastrop Animal Rescue or BAR, which took in many animals rescued from Houston and the rest of the gulf coast after Hurricane Harvey last year
  • PALS, a program of Meals on Wheels Central Texas, which provides food and veterinary care for the dogs and cats of seniors

Designing for Dogs

Doghouse design principles are essentially the same as a commercial building or a house for humans. The project contains budget and time constraints, size and material considerations, and an awareness of how the end user is going to interact with the space – in this case, understanding the dog as well as its owner. "A lot of the barkitects create a piece of furniture that is really unique and beautiful," says Daniel. "It’s this way of trying to find the interaction between people and pets."

Daniel has experimented with different designs each year but always strives to create a doghouse that is functional for the dog and visually appealing to the owners. "I’ve been doing this for 8 years and every year is different. Some [designs] are very strange and some are very cool. The idea is that you put yourself out there with whatever you have in mind and make it happen, make it work. Hopefully somebody will take it home and keep it for a long time."

For this year, he is currently working on a larger, modern, house created with an active dog in mind. It will be built for the outdoors to accommodate Texas weather and incorporates solar energy donated by Freedom Solar.

Doghouse Sustainability

Sustainability features are often incorporated into the doghouse designs. Daniel recalls some of the common and growing green building trends among barkitects:

  • Using recycled materials that are salvaged from construction sites
  • Adding a green roof or “living roof” to grow plants or vegetables
  • Creating water collection systems, such as a downspout that empties into a bowl for drinking water
  • Incorporating solar power and a battery, which is becoming a more common feature each year

How to Attend the Barkitecture Events

There are two ways to participate this year, and both events are dog-friendly of course!

Preview Party: The Preview Party takes place on Thursday October 25th from 6-9pm at The Belmont in downtown Austin. You can purchase advance tickets online $30 or pay $35 at the door. Entry includes a couple of drinks and food. A few of the doghouses will be on display, and puppies will be available to adopt.

Main Event: The main event takes place Sunday, October 28th from 12pm to 4pm at Fair Market in East Austin. It incldues a silent auction, costume contest, and photo booth.

The silent auction is open to the public. You can take home a one-of-a-kind, professionally designed doghouse for your dog (or cat!). Daniel notes that people are encouraged to bring your dogs to try before you buy. “One of my houses was sold to a lady that the dog picked the house,” he says. “The dog came and just got inside, and she couldn’t take it out. So she said, ‘I guess this is the one.’” This is an opportunity for Austin dog owners to purchase a home for their pet at well below market value given the time and materials invested in each doghouse.

Even if you aren’t in the market for a doghouse, come out on Sunday for the Halloween-themed photo booth from ZilkerBark, “dogstume” costume contest, and refreshments from food trucks (hey, it’s East Austin after all).

Daniel says, “Barkitecture is a great opportunity to use my skills as a designer, as a builder, and also to help a good cause. It’s a very cool, very Austin event with a great vibe.”

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