Every year, I look forward to the Cubby House Challenge at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. Six leading builders from around the country vie against each other to create the most creative and unique cubby house. But this is not a competition where the best walks away with all the biggest trophy and all the money. Instead, the cubby houses are auctioned off to the highest bidder, with all proceeds going to the Kids Undercover Program, an inspiring charity helping to prevent youth homelessness in Australia.
The cubby houses appeal to both the young and the young at heart. Children want to get inside, climb ladders, swing off suspended hammock nets and scribble on blackboards. Adults alternatively get to reminisce about cubby days of old, and even think laterally how one of these cubby houses could also be transformed into the perfect backyard office space! However you wish to use one of these great designs, bidders get the chance to proudly own a cubby house in the knowledge they have gained an architecturally designed cubby house AND helped out a worthy cause too.
The Vardo Hut by Doherty Design draws its influence from the humble gypsy cart, but with more modest styling. In place of the traditional bright colours, Doherty Design incorporated external timber baton panelling detail and a rippled corrugated roof. Clear panelling on half the roof lets in natural light, provides a visual connection to surrounding nature and if required, enables some subtle visual supervision of the activities within too! Inside the kids can live out wild imaginative adventures climbing ladders, perched on ledges, or gazing out circular port hole shaped doors. It could be a cubby house, an office, a small sleep over space or all of the above!
The Tent by Porter Davis assistant designers Randal Hampson and Jamie Smith is a design holidays are made of. Rustic worn timber panels in shades of the ocean lend an outdoorsy feel. The verandah roof adds a touch of midcentury architectural style, and inner sandpit provides hours upon hours of fun. To be used in rain, hail or sunshine.
First time entrant to the Kids Under Cover Cubby House challenge, Bondor presented the Eco Cubby which impressed on a number of levels. Bondor integrated their insulated panelling into the design, together with a rooftop garden to keep it cool in summer, making this one very energy efficient cubby house. Whilst the lower windows let light into the internal space, the smaller upper windows covered with batons softly filter the light in. Kids can close off the lower windows with smart red shutters and bunker down for the afternoon, or stare out through the yellow telescope watching out for trespasses (ie brothers and sisters)!
One of my favourite childhood taunts with my brothers and sisters – Liar Liar Pants on Fire by Atkinson Pontifex is an eye catching kaleidoscope of vibrant colour. Depending upon which angle you enter the space kids will be presented with either a large picture window out to the garden, or appear to be looking out the pinhole of a camera lens framing their view. From afar the recycled timber cladding appears to be a solid wall, but move a few steps to the right or left and tall windows separate each wall, allowing streams of light in at all angles. No wiring needed. You could even lie in it at night gazing up to the stars. Kids will feel like they are playing beneath a rainbow.
The sustainable cubby Bright Knight by Knight Bright (try saying that quickly!) is modern and slick. Kids imaginations will soar inside this space with ladders on the ceilings, climbing walls and steps up to the loft. Warm timber panelling wraps around the inner space, with tall slender windows allowing cross ventilation. The boxed steps provide space to store toys and little garden treasures, to share a afternoon tea party and even an external letterbox to let the kids know when it’s time to come in for dinner!
The Little Harris by Harris HMC is made from basic recycled materials forming a simple but fun space for kids. I can just imagine training a passionfruit vine over the living roof, with the fruit being picked by the kids below. It also features a large drop down window on the lower level, presenting the perfect opportunity for serving fresh homemade lemonade to backyard visitors.
All cubbies have set a reserve price of $6,500, and you need to register to bid tonight! Kids Under Cover are aiming to raise in excess of the $40,800 raised last year. Some quick thinking may be required if interested in snapping up one of these great designs! Alternatively if you would like to support the Kids Undercover Program in other ways, head on over to their website and make a donation.
If you have a personal favourite design, please let us know in the comments field below!
AUCTION – 27 March 2015
TIME – 6pm
WHERE: Exhibition Gardens, Melbourne