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Doghouse ‘barkitecture’ offers engineering lesson

Residential architecture for dogs or ‘barkitecture’ at Huntsville Botanical Garden is teaching engineering principles to some Madison students.

The advanced engineering design class at Bob Jones High School, taught by Jeremy Raper, has built three doghouses for the Barkitecture contest, one of events in the garden’s yearly, six-week “Dog Days of Winter.”

During Dog Days, “the garden opens up its doors to our favorite four-legged friends. This year, we wanted to add even more and thought that Barkitecture was something fun for the whole family,” marketing coordinator Niki Hogan said.

The doghouses will be located in the pine glade near the garden’s central corridor.

“We were so excited when Jeremy Raper’s class decided to submit designs and build doghouses,” Hogan said. In 2010, Raper’s class designed and built a tree house for the garden’s “Tremendous Treehouses” and for 2011’s “Treehouses with a Splash!”

“Mr. Raper is a wonderful teacher. His students are so lucky to get the hands-on, real-world experience that his class provides,” Hogan said.

The doghouse designs range from typical A-framed structures with unique paint jobs to the “Randy Jackson Dawg House,” a tribute to the “American Idol” judge by Fox 54’s promotions director Bob Boyer.

Raper and his students will assemble the house components in January. All entries will be on display from Jan. 13 through Feb. 29.

“Garden visitors love our Dog Days of Winter. We have some loyal Dog Days participants that we can count on seeing every year,” Hogan said. During this time, the botanical garden has hosted a few doggie birthday parties.

During the sunny, crisp winter days, dog owners walk the trails or let their dogs run in the no-leash zone at the back of the garden. “We think that Barkitecture will even attract some first-time attendees who will come for the doghouses but stay for the outdoor fun,” Hogan said.

For more information, send email to Hogan at nhogan@hsvbg.org or Kay Curry at kcurry@hsvbg.org or visit hsvbg.org.

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