Cat Houses: A Trend That Gives Us Pause

cat houses

Responding to Japan's love of pets, several architects have established a new, niche trend within their industry: pet-friendly home design.

With the world's lowest birthrate -- an estimated 7.3 births for every 1,000 people -- Japan is home to many young couples who choose pets in lieu of children. Additionally, many older couples in Japan revere dogs and cats.

"For people who have pets, they're like family," said Akira Koyama, the owner and representative director of Tokyo-based Key Operation Inc., an architecture firm.
cat houses

And there is a market for pet-focused design, said Koyama, who designed a residence dubbed "House Taishido," or "Cat House."

Located in a densely populated urban district west of Tokyo, the three-story, 30-square-meter home features stepping-stone-like shelves that allow the home's feline resident to navigate vertically in and out of the main living room via small openings.

The small openings in the wall lead to other rooms on the first floor.

The cat can also access the second floor of the unit by walking up the shelves and slipping through a slot that functions as a cat-only portal. Freeing up the unit's staircase from cat traffic allows the space to double as a home library, with bookcases and space for reading.

To read the full story and see more photos, go to Inman News.

Also see:
Newest Home Staging Trend: Placement Pets
Foreclosure's Other Victims: Abandoned Pets
Guide to Pet-Friendly Living

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Cat Houses: A Trend That Gives Us Pause

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Designed by Hampton and Old Dominion universities, who have partnered for the competition, the Unit 6 "Unplugged" aspires to encapsulate the "Arts and Crafts" character of homes native to Norfolk, Va. One of the home's most distinctive features is its sunspace, which functions as a porch in the summer and heat sink in the winter. 

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Comprised of Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Team Massachusetts' entry is a compact, energy-efficient home designed to accommodate a family of three. The "4D" home tips its hat to time by taking into account the changes families go through over the years. Moving walls allow inhabitants to re-structure the home's interior to suit their needs. For example, if a child moves out of the house, his parents may eliminate his room. The solar trellis outside provides shade for the house in addition to supporting a solar array. The team plans to sell the house for a reduced price after the competition.

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Coming from an institution that has committed to being carbon-neutral by 2016, Middlebury's team used exclusively natural building materials like sustainably harvested wood, recycled insulation and natural finishes to construct "Self-Reliance," named after the essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Influenced by the design of the traditional New England farmhouse, the home is entirely solar-powered, costs less than $250,000 and, though smaller than your average house, makes efficient use of its space to accommodate a family of four.

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