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The Hobbit House Two San Antonio designers unleash their ‘inner child’ to create fanciful playhouse by Alan Harmon, AIA, and Lauren Cortinaz, Assoc. AIA

When the South Central Texas Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society asked Marmon Mok to donate its services to design and build a playhouse, we were intrigued and accepted. Then we each unleashed our “inner child” to design with full vengeance! First, we spent an evening discussing what type of playhouse this might be. And, being environmental stewards, we decided to follow the motif of one of the most earth-friendly characters of fairy tale land. We chose to create a Hobbit House. Not only did the playhouse design bring $10,000 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society during its 2009 gala, the winning bidder wanted to donate the playhouse to another charity. After much “site searching,” all parties agreed that the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter of San Antonio would benefit the most. Once construction commenced, we soon realized that what began as a backyard installation had grown to be a small commercial project. We immediately returned to the drawing boards to “heavy up” the detailing. Next, we went back to our material donors to request sturdier components, and every one came through. (Without their help, we never would have completed the project to the level expected by this new client.) After countless hours of design services, construction labor, and volunteer painting sessions, the playhouse was completed just in time for Christmas 2010. The Hobbit House features a vegetated roof, a real stone facade, an operable round door (with an accessible door at the opposite side), natural ventilation, bermed sides, a built-in writing desk, and a faux fireplace (with black chalkboard backing). In our day-to-day practices, we sometimes forget about that treehouse we once built or the joy we had dreaming up a secret hideaway and seeing it come to fruition. The Hobbit House gave us a wonderful chance to step outside our routine and think like kids again. Alan Harmon, AIA, and Lauren Cortinaz, Assoc. AIA, work within the recreation/sports studio at Marmon Mok Architecture.

included Acme Brick, ASI Signage, ASSA Abloy, Beldon Roofing Company, Design Millwork, F.A. Nunnelly, Gunckel Millwork, Hart Lumber, Hull Doors, Ingram Ready Mix, Jaster Quintanilla, Lewis & Company, Quality Remodel, San Antonio Design Mill, Sherwin Williams, Spectrum Lighting, Taylor Construction, Thompson Landscaping , and Weston Solutions.

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Photo by Alan Harmon, AIA

Donors: Along with Marmon Mok, Kopplow Construction, and Escobedo Construction, other material donors


Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2011: Arts & Science