Every summer in Santa Cruz California there is a playhouse competition
involving local architects and builders. The eight or so playhouses that
get built are displayed in Capitola Mall, where some are auctioned and
one is raffled (or something like that). Designs range from miniature
houses to things like spaceships and undersea voyagers. One year there
was a submarine a la Jules Verne - quite impressive to adults with its
simulated steel plate and rivet detailing and big wooden gears, but
those features are probably lost on kids. And there have been castles
and fire stations and garden sheds and houseboats and train cabooses.
One of the hard things to cope with is that children will grow, so what
is a nice miniature scale for a 6 year old will be unusable for a 12 year
old. The more successful designs seem to be those that are open to a
variety of imaginative uses. The undersea voyaging vehicle doesn't lend
itself to much of anything else - and being simulated watertight it gets
stuffy and hot in there pretty quick. The most popular designs seem to
be those that have two or more levels, slides, ladders, secret doors,
swinging ropes, belfries, etc.
You probably won't have heating or cooling or plumbing, so it will be a
spring and fall utility. You may want electricity - it might look pretty
lighted up at night. You could put in some bunks so the kids and their
friends can have sleepovers in it. Then you might have a mosquito problem.
jhaynes at alumni dot uark dot edu