Wendy House: the small project with a big message
Small projects are a labour of love for Amir Sanei. Entering into competitions each year he uses his week off to perform the solitary tasks and create miniature masterpieces. "You do the design, the planning, the construction,” he said, “It's doing it all which is what architects used to do." But there are few projects that could be as small as this beautiful Wendy House situated in Amir’s garden.
Amir explained that the process was organic: "I didn't set out to make a Wendy House, I set out to make something. It grew out of windows I found in a skip and thinking about how they might be arranged,” he said, “The scale was door height to a child."
The project was created using the salvaged windows and materials from a local store at a cost of just £750. The windows surround three sides of the building with the fourth as a solid wall housing shelving on the inside and sheathed in mirror on the outside. This reflects back on to the neighbours’ garden camouflaging the teeny structure. The neighbours are in fact big fans; their children use the Wendy House too.
Not just used as a tool for amusement, Amir is making a statement about architecture in his miniature designs. Shortlisted for the RIBA Small Projects awards together with other projects, Amir wanted to push the boundaries of what you can consider as a small project and was honored that the judges made the visit to see the Wendy House. But he didn’t expect to win the award: “It didn’t win but I think if it had there would have been uproar. They are parodies of what we do and what we don't do as a profession. I don't think it should have won."
In these designs Amir is demonstrating how without access to power or money architects can still have an effective and influential role where conventional methods are often impotent. In doing so the Architect is redefining the role of an Architect in a wider context.
The Wendy House has been a hit on many levels, Amir receives regular press calls despite the design being completed in 2004, and he is very happy with the design himself. But the structure, which incorporates a clerestory at high level, allowing the corrugated roof to hover over the main room, has received one point of criticism; Amir’s girls would like to make sure that he could build them one with a ‘normal’ roof next time.
Niki May Young