Chihuahua Cloud-Architecture for Dogs

New York, US | 2013

 

The Chihuahua Cloud is a prosthetic, activated surface that communicates with other dogs and with the Chihuahua’s owner. The Cloud—a bespoke index of the uniqueness of any given Chihuahua’s body and temperament—acts as a democratizing screen through which both human and animal interaction with the Chihuahua can be viewed and reconsidered through an amplified lens. The Cloud consists of three performative layers. The innermost layer flexes with the rotation of the dog’s joints and is carefully tailored to track key areas of movement. A second layer, a prosthetic skeleton of artificial joints, projects movements tracked by the inner layer onto the tertiary, outermost layer of puffed skin. The skin translates the movement, speed, and personality of the Chihuahua into a pattern of undulations. The joint around the leash is the most crucial in the constellation of activation points on the skin. As the mediating link between pet and owner, the leash is treated with the importance of a joint within the dog’s body. At this physical connection with dog and human, the Cloud tracks give and pull while converting the relationship to a visible pattern on the skin. Designed to suit the specific needs of this feisty breed, the Cloud’s distinctive composite construction of fabric and exoskeleton creates a climatic buffer to shield the dog from cold and provides protection for the general weakness of the dog’s bones—including the soft spots around the skull (moleras) and the sensitive area near the eyes. The billowing volume of the Cloud also responds to the Chihuahua’s love of burrowing and playing “hide and seek.” In the Cloud the dog is warm, protected, and secure. Furthermore, the Cloud serves as a veil that neutralizes preconceptions about the size of Chihuahuas. The illusion of larger mass is befitting of the Chihuahua’s big personality. Via the skin, owners and other dogs are reminded to properly interact with the Chihuahua (rather than merely babying the dog). By refocusing attention from the dog’s size to its more salient traits of bravery and courageousness, the Cloud generates mystery; the Chihuahua’s new, artificial skin becomes a projection of its psyche. For the DIY enthusiast, the intricate process of crafting the Cloud creates an opportunity for the owner to make something special for their pet, thereby strengthening their relationship. As an easily customizable unit, the Cloud serves as a canvas to showcase the personalities of pet and owner through the selection of fabric color, pattern, and embellishment. Tapping into the DIY subcultures of Japan and around the world, the Chihuahua Cloud reclaims the power to shape one’s own identity and redefine preconceptions.

Project Info

Invited Competition  |  Type: Architecture for Dogs  |  Structure: Multiple

 

Project Credits

Principals

Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto

 

Design Team

Joy Wang

 

Interns and Assistants

Charlotte Krause, Takako Konishi

 

Architecture for Dogs Director

Kenya Hara

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