Cat-à-Tête is a design collaboration between Formation Association, Arktura, and BuroHappold.
Cat-à-Tête is produced for Architects for Animals, directed by Stephen Schauer. stephenschauer.com
Cats have been drawn to humans as a resource for food since the beginning of the agricultural revolution.
While we are most familiar with domestic cats, feral cats comprise a very large part of the urban cat population. Architects for Animals is an organization that helps to raise awareness for needy animals living in our complex urban ecology.
Formation Association, Arktura, and BuroHappold have collaborated on a project for Architects for Animals that highlights the ongoing interplay between cats and humans, we’ve called our project Cat-à-Tête.
A traditional tête-à-tête, is an S shaped seat for two. The term is french, meaning ‘face-to-face’, as in a face-to-face conversation.
Cat-à-Tête is a cat shelter which doubles as seating for their humanitarian volunteers. It is a kind of social structure for cats and humans alike. Its overall shape suggests an ongoing inter-species dialogue.
The material we selected for Cat-à-Tête is a sheet material typically used for acoustical applications.
The material is soft. It looks and feels like felt. However, it is actually largely composed of recycled plastic bottles.
It is a very sustainable material and is itself entirely recyclable.
Many layers of digitally defined shapes are laminated together to form the overall structure of Cat-à-tête. The sheets have a high degree of geometric stability. Laminated together, they create a composite structural action.
Through various openings, cats enter to the interior of Cat-à-Tête, protected from would-be predators. Inside, a circuit of sculptural spaces shaped in a continuous figure 8 offers areas of refuge, rest, play and observation.
The alternating bays of stacked material and slender voids allow light to rhythmically enter the structure. The voids allow visibility through the volume, especially for cats observing their surroundings from inside the soft interior.
Though humans and feral cats may not always cross-paths in using Cat-à-Tête, the structure's form suggests an on-going inter-species dialogue that continues to evolve.
Formation Association Architect
John K Chan Design Director
Grace U Oh Managing Director
India Jacobs Designer
Sebastian Munoz Director, Project Design & Development
John Johnston Product Engineer
Ravi Gupta Director of Engineering
Eric Lee Lopez Job Captain
Alex Heang Engineer
Sylvia Zilifian Jr. Job Captain
Ron Elad Project Director, Associate Principal
Erik Narhi Project Leader, Technical Designer
Josef Taylor Design Engineer
Stephen Schauer Producer & Director
Kaori Watanabe Production Coordinator
Paul Zlatin Production Coordinator
Junya Sakino Editor
Grace U. Oh Writer
Daniel S. McCoy CAS
Special Thanks to Sarah Lorenzen, Director, The Neutra VDL Research House