It’s nice to see that Mattel’s Barbie is assuming loftier and loftier career goals. At the risk of dating myself, I’ll note that the most talented Barbie I remember owning was Malibu Barbie, who could “tan” when you put her out in the sun.
But these days, Barbie is inspiring generations of would-be architects with designs for a new eco-friendly dream house, unveiled by Mattel and the American Institute of Architects as the winning entry in their AIA Architect Barbie Dream House Design Competition.
Recent Harvard graduates Ting Li and Maja Paklar won the most public votes for their collaborative effort in designing the dream house, and the features in their masterpiece include solar panels, operable shading, locally sourced materials, bamboo flooring and even low-flow toilets (which a Huffington Post article about the new house noted could save about 4,000 gallons of water per year – if Barbie were to use water).
According to the American Institute of Architects, Barbie’s new pad also gets a 1,500-square-foot entertaining space and open chef’s kitchen, a separate library and client-meeting room, a full-floor “inspiration room,” a greenhouse on the roof and a landscaped garden for her pets.
The partnership between AIA and Mattel to develop the competition was the latest addition to the career-themed "I Can Be" Barbie series, hitting stores August 15. In fact, Mattel is spotlighting architecture as its ‘’Career of the Year’’ for Barbie (who already has more than 125 careers under her belt) and says it hopes to encourage girls to consider becoming architects as adults.
In an AIA press release, Despina Statigakos, a professor of Architectural History at Buffalo, said that despite the fact that women have been expressing new ways of living for more than a century, “some still consider architecture an unusual profession for a woman. Architect Barbie salutes the many generations of women architects and encourages young girls to imagine a better world they can design and build.”
While Mattel has no plans to turn the blueprint into either a dollhouse or a real mansion, Mother Nature Network notes that the company will instead make a $1000 donation to the Charter High School for Architecture and Design in Philadelphia.
The Huffington Post reports that “experts” say the house would sell for around $3.5 million if a life-sized version were built. A girl can dream. See the winning design here.