From frenzied airport travelers to hospital patients, RS&H architects design buildings with the user experience in mind.

For members of the RS&H Denver office, their latest project was designed for the likings of an easy going, 86-pound Labrador retriever named Pesto.

Four eco- and pet-friendly Denver architects are participating in this year’s Sustainable BARKitecture Dog House Competition. The competition is hosted by the Denver International Airport (DEN) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, and challenges local architecture firms to design drool-worthy solar homes for man’s best friend.

“We were very excited to design and build a sustainable dog house for a great cause,” said Samuel Severns, RS&H architect and team member. “The team put in a lot of effort and we are very happy with the result.”

Fifteen firms donated their time and materials to design dog houses for one of DEN’s Canine Airport Therapy Squad dogs. The abodes should accommodate each dog’s unique size and preferences, while implementing sustainable features.

The RS&H team’s design features sleek angles, a sliding inner roof, tennis ball insulated wall, hydroponic plant wall, water bowl holder, green wall with rain water collection, phone charging station and a removable rubber inner floor.

The “wind scoop” design will keep dogs warm in Colorado’s cold months and cool during warmer weather. The sliding roof below the solar panels allows for varying amounts of ventilation and is sloped to drain water accumulation. The 16-degree angles optimize solar collection and construction materials, respectively.

Perhaps two of the most innovative features include the tennis ball insulation and the hydroponic plant wall. The front wall of the house stores and dispenses more used tennis balls than Pesto could ever fit in his mouth – 320 to be exact – that were donated by the PGA Superstore.

The back wall operates as a hydroponic green wall, which is serviced by a pump that is powered by the solar panel. The four plants included were meticulously chosen based on their physical and medicinal properties. Peppermint and Lemon Balm can be used as flea repellent or for an upset stomach when brewed in tea. Sweet Ann’s Pilea and Zinfandel where chosen because of their vibrant colors and spread.

The doghouse structure is made exclusively from recycled and salvaged materials, including the salvaged rubber gym floor that is removable for easy clean up. The donated solar panel powers both the green wall pump and the phone charging station – convenient for taking irresistible pics of your pup.

“Though the timeline was a little ruff (pun intended), the results came out very paw-some,” said James De Fries, another RS&H architect who participated.

Voting in the doghouse competition can be done online through Oct. 5, and an awards ceremony will be held at the airport plaza on Oct. 9. The doghouses will be auctioned off to support the Denver Dumb Friends League, the Rocky Mountain Region’s largest animal welfare organization.

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