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Architects and Designers Build Shelters for Homeless Cats

Oct. 4, 2019

Multiple architecture and design firms got involved in this year’s Architects for Animals event, an annual fundraiser held at Herman Miller’s Los Angeles showroom that benefits FixNation.

Some of the design industry’s top architecture and design firms recently came together to use their expertise for a good cause at the Architects for Animals fundraiser, held at the Herman Miller showroom in Los Angeles.

(Photo: Perkins and Will design. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

Founded in 2010, Architects for Animals is an annual fundraiser for the Los Angeles-based non-profit FixNation, which provides free spay-and-neuter services for the city’s skyrocketing population of homeless cats.

(Photo: Stantec design. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

Los Angeles is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of homeless felines, an estimated one to three million cats, according to FixNation’s website. The nonprofit was founded by Karn Meyers and her late husband Mark Dodge to provide a more effective and compassionate alternative to mass euthanasia.

(Photo: HKS design. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)“Many architects and designers are passionate about making the built environment more sympathetic to inhabitants—and that includes caring about animals’ plight in urban settings,” says Leslie Farrell, founder of Architects for Animals. “We were inspired to create an event where creatives could
use their talents in service of animals in need, all while raising awareness among a broader audience.”

This year’s participating firms who submitted designs for the event include:

  • Abramson Architects
  • d3architecture
  • HKS
  • HOK
  • Morphosis/Xtech
  • Perkins and Will
  • RDC
  • Stantec
  • Standard Architecture | Design
  • Tracy A. Stone Architect
  • WORD Design and Architecture

(Photo: d3architecture design. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

Each firm was tasked with designing, building and donating an urban outdoor cat shelter that can withstand the elements. The donated structures are then on display every year at the Herman Miller showroom through the “Giving Shelter” exhibit. Read to learn about the inspiration and design behind some of the structures.

Abramson Architects

The CatCube is a modular system that allows flexibility in the dwellings configurations, letting the user determine the number and type of modules that best suits their cat needs. Each module’s interior is lined with felt and features a colored linoleum on the exterior to create a cozy interior for the cats—as well as a fun, colorful exterior that is also durable.

(Photo: Abramson Architects' CatCube. Credit: Maghan Bob Photography.)

The base of the modules are carpet tiles or pet grass that are easily removable for cleaning or changing. The set of two modules connect via hidden magnets under the surface of the linoleum, and each module rests on felt pads that lift it off the ground and allow it to slide easily on hard surface flooring materials, such as wood.

[Related: A 360 Video Tour of the Doghouse and Puppy Exhibit at Coverings 2019]


This modular system functions as a playful maze and a peaceful resting zone for our purring friends. The concave dips on the exterior serve as an additional resting area and as a seat for humans to relax and interact with cats who are looking for affection.

(Photo: HOK design. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

This skeletal design exposes the bare bones of the shelter and metaphorically represents that every cat deserves a warm, dry, playful and restful home.


Legs House is a prototype for feline urban dwelling that utilizes Kebony wood, a sustainable alternative to Brazilian walnut, to create a vertical house expressive of both wild and domestic sensibilities.

The CNC-machined Kebony slats vary in shape and provide protection from weather, while allowing air to circulate through the house naturally. The slats taper as they touch the ground, creating a semi-protected and accessible exterior space.

(Photo: Morphosis/Xtech's Legs House. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

Above, three distinct levels exist where cats can relax, eat, nap or observe. Textured inlays on these levels are removable and can be cleaned as required. At the uppermost level, a roof garden functions as a lookout tower.


Sneaky Drawers is a collection of three staggered wood drawers encased in a concrete shell. The shell is diagonally cut and hinged to provide the flexibility of open and closed environments within the drawers and their negative spaces. Multiple cats can lounge, jump and snuggle inside and between the birch drawers.

(Photo: rdc's Sneaky Drawers. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

Standard Architecture | Design

The CAT POD was developed as part of a multi-use, modular building concept. Each module is a prefabricated, vaulted, concrete shell that can be infilled with wood or other construction.

For the CAT POD, FSC-certified teak was reclaimed from flooring samples and used for the infill. The teak is fitted to the concrete shell to form a sheltered enclosure with a door. A thick piece of natural, unbleached wool felt forms the floor.

(Photo: Standard Architecure | Design's CAT POD. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

The concrete's high thermal mass gathers heat during the day, and slowly releases it overnight. The slatted teak wall and door allow a breeze to flow though. Appealing to a cat's desire for warmth, the CAT POD provides a secure shelter for a catnap.

Tracy A. Stone Architect

Inspired by the simplicity of a tent’s rain fly, Tracy A. Stone Architect wanted to create a playful structure that uses tent technology and simple materials.

A custom tent pole suspends the rain fly over the platform to create refuge from rain and other elements.

(Photo: Tracy A. Stone Architect design. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

Exciting amenities (water bowl, scratch pad and dangling toy) have been integrated to give our feline friends a memorable stay.

WORD Design and Architecture

The Cat-esian Joint is a play on the very simple Cartesian joint, and features three felt-lined tubes that are interlocked and provide a climbing surface and shelter akin to the hollow of a tree.

(Photo: Word Design and Architecture's Cat-esian Joint. Credit: Meghan Bob Photography.)

To learn more about Architects for Animals and how you can get involved, visit architectsforanimals.com.

Read next: Hyatt Regency Maui’s Textiles Raise Money for Breast Cancer Clinic

About the Author

Adrian Schley | Associate Editor

Adrian Schley is an Associate Editor for i+s, where she has been covering the commercial interior design industry since 2018. Her work can also be found in BUILDINGS and Meetings Today. 

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