Architect Barbie and Her Dream House: Green Design for Kids

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Barbie gets a sustainable makeover with a home featuring solar panels, bamboo floors, and an eco-friendly toilet

Architect Barbie (via Inhabitat)

I vacationed in Prague not long ago and wandered into a museum full of Barbie dolls. Pretty impressive, in its way. Barbie has come a long way over the years, and her newest incarnation is as an architect with a green home.

Bridgette Meinhold previewed Architect Barbie in Inhabitat:

Various people and organizations have long been vying to get Barbie to become an architect and, finally in 2010, Mattel agreed. University of Buffalo professor Despina Stratigakos and Kelly Hayes McAlonie consulted for Mattel and made suggestions about Architect Barbie's clothing and her accessories. While many disapprove of Architect Barbie's choice of footwear, the architecture plan tube, and her choice of pink, the designers had good reason to choose all the items. They had to find a balance between stereotypes and pushing the boundaries.

I don't have a big problem with that, actually, and would sooner hire an Architect Barbie than a hypothetical Architect Ken to design my building.

If I did, chances are the building might have some cool green features. This summer, the American Institute of Architects held a design competition for Architect Barbie's "Dream House." Among the guidelines, according to Meinhold, were that the home should reflect "the best sustainable design principles" with a smart home office, a top of the line kitchen "and tons of space to entertain."

Architect Barbie's Dream House (via AIA)

The winning entry, designed by Ting Li and Maja Parklar, provides Barbie with the latest technology. From the AIA press release announcing the winner:

The winning house design features entertaining space and chef's open kitchen on the first floor, along with an office / library / meeting space. There is also a terrace on the second floor. The third and fourth floors are Barbie® doll's private enclave, her bedroom and her inspiration room respectively. The roof has a green house and a landscaped garden for her domestic pets. The design elements include solar panels, landscaped rooftop and irrigation system, operable shading devices, bamboo flooring, low flow toilet and sink fixtures, and locally sourced and manufactured materials and furnishings.

Go here for Meinhold's latest coverage of the dream house, and lots of good images.

Of course, this being an AIA competition, the house has nearly 5,000 square feet of living space and is sited on a three-acre lot in Malibu with a three-car garage. The Institute isn't known for giving much weight to green locations with walkability and transportation choices in its competitions, unfortunately. So I think "the best sustainable design principles" should come with a disclaimer in this case. Even Barbie can't have everything, apparently.



This post also appears on NRDC's Switchboard.
Images: Inhabitat, AIA

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Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. More

Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. He is the author or co-author of Once There Were Greenfields (NRDC 1999), Solving Sprawl (Island Press 2001), Smart Growth In a Changing World (APA Planners Press 2007), and Green Community (APA Planners Press 2009). In 2009, Kaid was voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on Planetizen.com, and he was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" in 2010 by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. He blogs at NRDC's Switchboard.
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