Case Studies

CASE STUDY - Cubby House Challenge

Cubby House Challenge

Grimshaw is one of five practices selected to design and build a cubby for the Kids Under Cover 2017 Cubby House Challenge. The five cubbies were auctioned at a VIP event at the 2017 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, raising AUD$162,000 for the Kids Under Cover’s Studio Program, an early intervention strategy which helps to prevent youth homelessness.

MySpace, the cubby designed by Grimshaw, fetched AUD$21,000 and was the recipient of the Kids Choice Award, and the Most Imaginative and Interactive Award. We are honoured to have been a part of the 2017 Cubby House Challenge.

Cubby HouseThrough MySpace, Grimshaw has reconceptualised the traditional cubby, transforming the rigid building form into one that allows children to create their own space by manipulating various sized blocks across four levels. How they enter the cubby and arrange the interior is up to them – it is a non-static space that children can make their own and reinvent as they desire.

The moveable blocks have multiple uses to reinforce this sense of ownership and flexibility. They can be used to fill voids or provide openings, as furniture or storage and to house secret treasures and trinkets.

Two key workshops were held to develop the concept for MySpace. The first invited children to contribute their ideas of what constitutes the ultimate cubby. A space for flexibility, creativity and retreat were recurring themes, with orange a popular choice of colour.

The second workshop was a design charrette which offered Grimshaw’s architects the opportunity to recall their childhood cubby house dreams. The ideas were harnessed into a single concept with a strong connection to one of the architect’s memories of playing with the wooden crates in his father’s fruit and vegetable warehouse; crates were positioned to create voids to hide in or used as stepping stones to create a flexible oasis akin to a human-scale Lego set.

Cubby HouseThis concept was developed through the ethos of Grimshaw’s architectural practice; strong conceptual legibility, innovation and a rigorous approach to detailing, all underpinned by the principles of humane, enduring and sustainable design.
In turn, MySpace has been realized as a bespoke shelter which encourages confidence and creative play while offering a finely crafted installation fit for the most urbane of backyards.

Conceived as an elegant piece of joinery, the cubby’s frame has been built using 75mmx75mm Tasmanian Oak hardwood timber beams. Each member has been machine cut and routed to form a cross profile that integrates horizontal rails, allowing the boxes to be safely and easily maneuvered. With each member dowelled and glue joined to form a rigid connection there are no visible fixings. This ensures that the frame can facilitate safe vertical and horizontal movement and provide railings that may be easily held on to by small hands. Rubber matting is incorporated in the floor as a further safety measure.

The boxes within the cubby are fabricated from pine plywood. Each box is wrapped in high density foam, then covered with an external-grade colored fabric.

With a translucent polycarbonate (Danpal) roof and façade, MySpace provides a shelter which offers children a sense of concealment while providing visibility to the outside. The polycarbonate cladding system provides a clean façade finish by concealing all screw fixings. To complement the notion of a safe hideout, a yellow periscope peaks out from the roof to allow children to keep watch and observe their surroundings. Page 1 of 2 Lighting is another key feature of the cubby. Our design incorporates LED strip lighting into each internal corner of the frame to illuminate the interior and allow the cubby to ‘glow’ at night.

Grimshaw has worked closely and collaboratively with the builder and suppliers to deliver a cubby that is of the highest quality while offering a reconfigurable space to keep children intrigued – a true team effort for the benefit of the children that may make MySpace their own as well as those whom it may prevent youth homelessness for.

Architect’s Statement

Cubby House 6There was always something exciting about creating your own cubby house as a kid. Whether stacking cushions from the family sofa, draping bed sheets over the ironing board or arranging cardboard boxes to form enclosures, it allowed a sense of freedom to create and play, to be the master of one’s own universe.

This freedom of creative play is actively explored with MySpace, a cubby house designed by Grimshaw for Kids Under Cover, a not-for-profit organization which raises funds to help prevent youth homelessness.

Through MySpace we have reconceptualised the cubby, transforming the rigid building form into one that allows children to create their own space by manipulating various sized blocks over three levels. How they enter the space and arrange the interior is up to them – it is a space they can make their own and reinvent as they desire.

The moveable blocks have multiple uses to reinforce this sense of ownership and flexibility. They can be used to fill voids or provide openings, as furniture or storage and to house miniature gardens.

Two key workshops were held to develop the concept for MySpace. The first invited children to contribute their ideas of what constitutes the ultimate cubby. A space for flexibility, creativity and retreat were recurring themes, with orange a popular choice of colour.

The second workshop was an in-house design charrette offering our architects the opportunity to recall their own childhood cubby house dreams. In keeping with Grimshaw’s architectural practice, the cubby was developed from a strong concept, with the final design resulting from a deep interest in adaptable and flexible architecture and craftsmanship.

MySpace encapsulates childhood aspirations as well as a desire to empower children through their own creative play.

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