Dollhouses are wonderful miniature worlds. They allow our imagination to fill their spaces with characters, settings, and lives. Dollhouses invite us to rearrange rooms, practice furniture selection and arrangement, and ‘play house’ by moving scaled figurines in, on and around. Most dollhouses have front and side facades with an open back. The front usually has windows that give views into the house. Sometimes there is even an operating front door. Side elevations often have windows as well. Dollhouses provide endless hours of fun and imaginary play. They contain homemade furniture- tables, chairs, beds and dressers or miniatures. They hold tiny objects like dishes and lamps. Like a real home, rooms are painted and decorated. A green dollhouse is a micro scale house that displays strategies for saving energy in full-scale homes. It is a Green demonstration dollhouse!
Activity 1 – Dollhouses
Start a treasure hunt to find old, used dollhouses or build your own. For this mission consider time, money and abilities. What is your time frame to find or build a house? Do you have one in your home? Do you know a friend or neighbor who might have one? Can you find one at a garage sale? Can you borrow one? As you search, take photos or make drawings of one to three different dollhouses. Take a look at the House Styles journey. List style characteristics for each dollhouse presented on their façade(s). Next, make a list of key rooms. Compose your photographs, drawings, titles and text on a poster and upload it to Activity 1 Green Dollhouses.
Activity 2 – Green Home Strategies
There are many ways to ‘green a house’ that go beyond changing its color. While painting a house green is an aesthetic or visual change, making performative changes in the ways the house uses energy and interacts with air, water, and energy systems introduces functional changes are ‘green’ strategies, look at the Green Building, Green School and Green Home journeys and take notes about sustainable practices in other types of architecture. You will find that there are both passive and active strategies. Passive approaches use natural earth, air, water and climate systems to improve energy and water use. Site orientation, natural ventilation, indigenous vegetation, etc. are all green steps taken to situate better, ventilate, hydrate and ventilate a real house. The introduction of technology and operating systems adds water filters, pipe insulation, wall insulation, roof insulation, gutters, downspouts, rain barrels and rain gardens. It may even add solar thermal panels for hot water and a wind vane to capture wind energy. A digital meter connects the house to a smart grid improve to energy use. Look at the [Building Like Bodies]( Journeys and see that the systems in homes work together much like the human body’s systems support and interact together. Make an outline of possible improvements that help reduce energy use, improve natural ventilation, conserve, and store and heat water. Make a poster that presents 7-10 green home strategies. Add diagrams, drawings or photographs to show green installations using your favorite dollhouse as a backdrop.
Activity 3 – Green Demonstration Dollhouses
From pictures to a live demonstration, it is time to label your strategies on a real dollhouse. Pick the green strategies you think are the most important and the most possible to accomplish in a real retrofit of a house. Brainstorm ways to build or show these ideas. Following are a few examples. Rope: Clothesline for sun drying clothes Window Quilts: Cloths to look like drapes to cover windows in extreme cold Double Glazed Windows: Double thick windows stop the transfer of extreme outdoor temperature inside. Soup Can: RainWater Drum for garden irrigation Solar Thermal: Tubes folded into a box Photo Voltaic: Screen Capture these and mount on a south-facing roof Pipe Insulation: Cotton pads wrapped around straws. On demand water heater: Unlike our water drums, these look like flat radiators so a small box works Vegetable Garden: Bring some planted herbs and place alongside your dollhouse These are just a few ideas for your project. You can think up even more! Label and install as many green strategies as you can find. Take a photo of your green dollhouse and display it at your school! Can you make some of these changes in your home?
Activity 4 – Design a Green Dollhouse
Now that you are becoming a green house expert try your hand at designing green dollhouses for children. What are the key points that you will want to ‘build’ into your design? Think about what you have learned from your study of dollhouses. How can all of the strategies be incorporated into the design of the dollhouse? How will they change the way the house looks and how it performs. Which ones will you make visible? A small model that you can hold with one hand will be 1/8” scale or 1”= 8’-0”. One floor of a house is at least 8’0” tall so if you have a two story house it would be approximately 2 “ tall. You can draw this and see that this is very tiny. Take a look at ¼” scale or 1” = 4’-0”? If your first and second floors are 10’-0” tall, how much taller would this make your model? (Answer: 2 stories x 10’’-0” tall each story = 20’; 20’ divided by 4 feet per inch = 5 inches tall!) Building a model that is even larger like ½ “ scale will result in a how tall of a model? (Hint: Use the same equation but plug in the new number 2). Make a list of green objects, systems and ideas that you want to include. Make conceptual sketches of possible arrangements of the elements of the rooms, walls, yard and roof of the house you will design and construct. Study two to three schemes and choose one to build. Make your model as neatly as possible. Put a Green Dollhouse key on the roof of the house that color codes green strategies. You are on your way to becoming a green building expert!
Looking for inspiration? Take a look at the Green Dollhouse Projects for exciting ways to build a green dollhouse.
- Artificial Light
- Buildings as Bodies
- Facade Elements
- Green Building
- Green Home
- Growing food
- Housing Styles
- Natural Light
- Rain Gardens
- Site Analysis
- Vernacular Architecture
- Water Conservation
- Wind Power