Playhouses from around the world

Designing and building a playhouse for your nine year old daughter – always the most exacting of clients – may be a tough assignment but it comes with some serious perks (otherwise known as exuberant cuddles!).

Her face on seeing her own playhouse, shaped and painted like the Chinese pagodas of her heritage, was quite simply worth all the time and effort it had taken. And then one of her best friends came to tea, This friend happened to have been born in Guatemala – another rich and ancient culture…so you can maybe guess where we are going with this…

By the next time she came to tea, we’d designed a Guatemalan playhouse…just in the interests of avoiding amicable squabbling you understand…


Guatemalan playhouse

Guatemalan playhouse

It is based on the amazing limestone structures that make up Tikal, one of the largest archaeological sites of the Mayan civilisation located in what is now northern Guatemala. Tikal, which dates as far back as the 4th century BC but was at its most dominant in 600-900 AD, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

The Mayan city of Tikal holds many of the tombs, monuments, temples and palaces of its ancient rulers. The name “Tikal” is a recent Mayan term meaning “at the waterhole” and was given it long after the city’s demise.

Twin pyramids

The ancient rulers would construct a twin pyramid complex at the end of every K’atun (a 20 year period in the Mayan calendar). Each would be flat topped, built adjacent to each other and contain a staircase on each side. The flat tops were designed as a space for the performance of sacrificial rituals with only the most important people, such as priests and the ruling elite, allowed to be there.  Attendants would have stood on the other levels.

Now, while we are happily not anticipating a similar ghoulish usage for the playhouse, it is a fun and creative play space for children.

From Russia with love…

And it set us thinking: why not design other playhouses based on ancient buildings from around the world? Maybe a Russian dacha, an African hut or even an igloo? It feels like a tiny piece of a cherished homeland created in a back garden – fun for the kids and maybe even a sundowner space for the grown-ups. Any more ideas, anyone?  

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