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Architecture for Dogs
Photograph: Katie McCabe

We let a dog loose in a London gallery

Japan House has a free exhibition of designs by famous architects like Sou Fujimoto, made specifically for canines


Dogs do not need to prove themselves to us, but they’ve really stepped up recently. After the initial head-cocked confusion of ‘why are you home at 2pm on a Tuesday, buddy? Have you been fired?’, they helped to keep the lockdown doom away, one tail-wag at a time.

But I wouldn’t know much about that, because I do not have a dog – I had to steal one from a friend, so I could get the most out of this exhibition.

Only small-to-medium pooches are allowed into ‘Architecture for Dogs’, a partly interactive show of designs created with specific canine breeds in mind. This makes sense: Japan House, where it’s being held, has a shop filled with expensive ceramics on plinths.

Nino – the dog I have stolen – is allegedly a chihuahua but looks more like a dobermann that got zapped with a shrink ray, so he’s allowed in.

Architecture for Dogs
‘Please don’t make me wear that’

The display is fairly minimal, but it’s obvious how much fun these big-name architects had imagining a dog as their ‘client’. One structure from Atelier Bow-Wow is made to help dachshunds meet their owners’ eye-level (their stubby legs make it hard to hop up on a chair). There’s even a ‘wearable’ orange design for chihuahuas that wouldn’t look out of place at the Met Gala, which Nino shows absolutely no interest in.

Things are more fun in the interactive bit, where I can let Nino off the lead to run through the maddest designs. It feels like we’re competing in a Surrealist Crufts.

As an exhibition, this won’t blow your mind, but if you’re a London pet owner who spends a lot of time on street corners googling ‘is The Coach & Horses dog friendly?’, then this weird little afternoon out is for you.

 ‘Architecture for Dogs’ is at Japan House until January 10 2021. Find out more and book a free ticket here.

Want to run freely around some art? Let loose at Frieze Sculpture, but for God’s sake don’t touch anything.   

Want to know what you can do in London this week? We’ve got a list of the capital’s best events.


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