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When Architects Used Dollhouses to Study Environmental Factors

In an effort to stimulate interest in ‘green homes” or homes that were environmentally friendly, several organizations created the Green Dollhouse Project. This project was a collaboration of different associations and government organizations including the Coyote Point Museum, Eco Design Resources, Sustainable San Mateo County and RecycleWorks! and others.

The project was also a competition for architects, professional designers and design students. Held in 2005, the competition challenged architects and designers to look beyond creating miniature models but to create a real dollhouse that could exhibited in the Coyote Point Museum, be part of a touring exhibit, and eventually be sold to raise money for nonprofit organizations or donated to child care centers or schools.

The theme of the unique project was “Start Small, Think Big, Build Green.” The message the organizers of the competition wanted to come through in the the Green Dollhouse Project was to inspire individuals including young children to be more environmentally conscious in their own homes and for architects to demonstrate how homes could be both healthier and aesthetically pleasing while being ‘green’. Concepts such as water conservation, non-toxic building materials, renewable energy, wind or solar power, and being energy efficient were all supposed to be included in the thought processes in designing a green dollhouse.

Judging criteria for the competition included creating a real dollhouse that can function as both a piece of art and a toy that is sturdy enough to be played with by children. The dollhouses needed to exhibit playfulness and creativity in addition to being an educational vehicle to teach the public about the need to be environmentally conscious in their lives and in their homes.

A book about the competition was created in 2007 and is called the Green Dollhouse: Creating a Doll’s Eye View of a Healthier World.

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