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Pet Architecture
Emily Gertz, 17 Mar 04


I have been obsessing on the idea of "pet architecture" since last fall, when I first encountered a book by that name at Urban Center Books, a modestly sized but impressively-stocked New York City bookstore focused on architecture, allied arts and urban development  Do not enter this bookstore unless you have a generous expense account, ready justifications for buying fat new books, or a lot of self-control.

The Pet Architecture Guidebook is a compulsively touchable little book by Japanese architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow (here's some info about them in English).  It documents "amazingly small" businesses, homes, garages, cafes, more, that persist in the interstices of macropolitan Tokyo and define what would otherwise been seen as "wasted" or "useless" space.  The buildings are presented in detail, including photographs, elevations, maps, and brief descriptions.  "Most of those buildings are cheaply built, and therefore are not spectacular in design and they use not the forefront of technology," writes Yoshiharu Tsukamoto in the introduction. "However we are attracted by them. It maybe because their presence produces a relaxed atmosphere and make use feel relieved. Pets, companion animals of the people, are usually small, humorous and charming. We find what we call "pet architecture", architecture having pet like characteristics, existing in the most unexpected places within the Tokyo city limits."

Pet Architecture integrates these buildings into the story of a city's design. These tiny structures hint at how how humans adapt themselves and their environments.

Sometimes they are shacks, sometimes ingeniously elegant and efficient.  Kind of like the resident cat at your corner deli compared to a purebred Abyssinian. Once the idea of them and the spaces they occupy has entered your brain, it will persist like a virus, transforming how you see the city.

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There is also a non-profit in San Francisco,PAWS (, that organizes a fundraiser every year that features Architect-designed pet houses that are auctioned off ( The organizer has also published a book "Pads for Pets" that chronicles some of the better entries over the years.

Posted by: Regan Martin on 17 Mar 04


So we can have buildings as pets (pet architecture) and buildings for our pets (petchitecture).

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 17 Mar 04



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