Birds nests, otters’ dams, badger sets, squirrels’ dreys – houses made by animals are, of course, the norm. What is more rare, indeed almost unheard of, are houses made in the shape of animals. Yet, for this week’s Most Loved, we showcase an example of this unusual branch of architecture with this Cat Shaped School, built in Germany by artist Tomi Ungerer, and Loved by Another’s Commissioning Editor Laura Bradley.
Situated in the German village of Wolfartsweier, the feline kindergarten hosts around a hundred children who enter through the mouth, take classes in the head – with light pouring in through the eyes – and who can make their way to the playground at the back via the tail or rather a silver slide. It is a rare example of when so-called novelty architecture has been created with the purpose not only of delighting the eye, but also with a specific practical purpose. Generally speaking, when buildings are sculpted into unexpected shapes, say elephants or doughnuts, it is to entice customers into roadside food joints on the American highway, and as they cannot be entered, they would probably be better defined as sculptures. However, Ungerer’s structure, created with the help of d’Ayla-Suzan Yöndel, may see a new trend emerging, with the sphinx like structure a huge success both with the pupils of Wolfartsweier, and on the AnOther Loves stream.
"The feline kindergarten hosts around a hundred children who enter through the mouth, take classes in the head – with light pouring in through the eyes – and who can make their way to the playground via the tail, or rather a silver slide."
Here we speak to cat fan Bradley about why she chose to love the school, and what other animals she would like to see immortalized in architecture.
Why did you choose to love the school?
It's brilliant! I love cats. I'm aware of a cat-shaped swimming pool, but I didn't imagine there'd be a cat inspired school.
What would you wear for lessons here?
As headteacher, I would specify a Givenchy hat with cat ears, and a navy and white uniform.
Do you feel learning would be helped by a feline building? If so, how?
In the news earlier this month, there was a lot of discussion about how exposure to cute images of cats can aid concentration, following a scientific study done in 2009. I imagine the kids lucky enough to attend a cat-shaped school are excellent students!
What is your favourite building?
The ultimate school – the Bauhaus building at Dessau, Germany, designed by Walter Gropius.
Which other animals that would work as buildings?
The Bambi building, a truly magical place.
If you could be an animal, what would it be?
A cat or a fawn.
What are you looking forward to about the coming season?
Moving into my beautiful new house and decorating our Christmas tree. And being reunited with my best friend for the holiday season.
What was the last thing you bought?
Two pumpkins for my first ever carving session.