Last month, nearly two dozen houses designed by the likes of London-based firms Zaha Hadid Architects and Adjaye Associates were sold at auction. These houses were not slated to be lived in, however—they are designed for a site roughly 30 inches wide. Inspired by Edwin Lutyens’s 1922 dollhouse for Queen Mary, the U.K.–based Cathedral Group development firm organized the dollhouse auction to benefit Kids, a London-based charity for disabled children.
The 20 participating firms designed dollhouses geared toward children with special needs. Duggan Morris Architects, for example, designed a house for an autistic child: It is divided into streamlined rooms meant to simplify visual stimulation.
As they were designed for a fundraiser, most of these high-ticket items won’t wind up in any kid’s hands. The house designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, for example, went for more than $22,000—well outside the typical family’s toy budget. Altogether, the sale garnered about $145,000. At press time, three of the houses were destined for private homes, and another three were slated for offices.
Perhaps some of the dollhouses will wind up as art, alongside such works as Faith Bradford’s 23-room mini house at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., or Colleen Moore’s 1930s Fairy Castle at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. As a record of today’s design buzzwords, such as live–work spaces (Adjaye Associates’ “Electra House”) and temporary housing (Guy Hollaway Architects’ “Jack in a Box”), they wouldn’t be out of place in an archive.