Walking the halls of NorthPark Center to see this year’s Dallas CASA playhouses is a journey around the world and through your imagination.
You can go on safari, with a camphouse ready for the remote plains of Africa. Covered in canvas, the house lets kids dream of being on the Serengeti listening for bird calls and roaring lions in the distance. It even has bunk bed cots for adventurers ready for a backyard overnight.
Then you can head to Mars with a spaceship-shaped playhouse designed to land in your backyard. Mounting it by a small staircase, kids can imagine the sky they see above is the outer space they’re hurdling through.
You can climb Mount Everest at the Basecamp playhouse, which has climbing walls up one side and down the other and is even shaped like a mountain.
Kids can become their own garage monkey with Crest Cadillac / Crest Infiniti’s detailed garage. Complete with a kid-sized Escalade, the house features sliding barn doors so the car can be parked inside and a loft for kids to rest after working on their car.
You can even time travel. One of the Dallas CASA playhouses is inspired by steampunk, a science fantasy design reflecting 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. With copper tubing, a sheet metal wall and portholes for look outs, the house fully embraces it theme.
For LRO Residential’s Les Owens, making a warm, family-friendly house is his goal. A homebuilder by trade, Owens sets the house on one of his job sites, and his crews look forward to working on it. Friday morning, they were at NorthPark shining this year’s house’s copper roof. The Dallas CASA playhouse looks like a perfect little cottage, with shingles, a tiny brick fireplace and easy chairs and a rug inside.
“Everybody we work with gets into these houses,” he said. “We want to put a nice product out there, something kids and adults would like in their backyard.”
One of this year’s most creative entries stands out for simplicity. The accordion-shaped house looks deceptively simple, but architects from The Beck Group wanted their Dallas CASA playhouse to be a respite, a getaway and a place for creativity.
Mike Cluff, Brandon Coates and John Jacobson were on hand Thursday morning as a forklift brought the structure into NorthPark. They all described wanting a playhouse that a child’s imagination could make different every time they played with it, something that could be moved and morphed, a structure kids could play in and on.
They enlisted Dallas architectural millwork company Watson & Cochran to make the structure from cedar. As cabinet-builders, Watson & Cochran took extra care with wood selection, and the structure will naturally weather outdoors.
But The Beck Group wasn’t done. They called iD!BRi, an Addison-based firm with acousticians on staff, for consultation on designing pipe-shaped bells to go on the outside of the house. As a result, the playhouse will play in the key of C.
For Jacobson’s daughter, 12-year-old Audrey who also came Thursday morning, the playhouse is so much more than the structure her dad helped design.
“It’s a place to get away – away from electronics and TV, away from school, even away from your parents,” she said with a smile.
The Dallas CASA playhouses on are display now through July 31 at NorthPark Center. They will be given away by raffle on July 31. Raffle tickets are available for purchase at NorthPark Center or at dallascasa.org. Tickets are $ 5 each or 5 for $20. Or visit the houses at NorthPark, pick your favorite and vote by texting dallascasa to 41444. Each vote costs $5.