About the Giant Dolls’ House Project

The Giant Dolls’ house project is an inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tive arts project. It engages local com­mu­ni­ties and rais­es aware­ness for home­less­ness and refugees. The aim of the project is to make peo­ple aware of the impor­tance of a home and com­mu­ni­ty for all and to cel­e­brate a unit­ed diversity. 

Since its start in Octo­ber 2014 the project has been to Dubai, North Car­oli­na, Goa, Jor­dan, Bournemouth and has been part of the Lon­don Fes­ti­val of Archi­tec­ture for five con­sec­u­tive years. The instal­la­tions cre­at­ed can be used as con­ver­sa­tion pieces, to tell sto­ries, or just to look at. Each instal­la­tion is very depen­dent on the dif­fer­ent col­lab­o­ra­tors over the years and demon­strates the diver­si­ty of groups involved in the project. We found that the dolls’ house can be used to explore ideas of iden­ti­ty, both shared as well as per­son­al, and that the dolls’ house project is always a good reflec­tion of the dif­fer­ent peo­ple who have cre­at­ed it.

Fur­ther­more, the idea of just mak­ing’ has been a great suc­cess. What could be called casu­al craft; find­ing out by mak­ing, tin­ker­ing, using your hands and every­day mate­ri­als, has been an impor­tant theme in the dif­fer­ent instal­la­tions. Think­ing through craft and mak­ing has res­onat­ed with the wide range of par­tic­i­pants who have par­tic­i­pat­ed in the project.

The project is the ini­tia­tive of Cat­ja de Haas who has con­duct­ed research into minia­ture and the home as part of her PhD by design. The project is run as part of her archi­tec­tur­al practice.


The world is my imag­i­na­tion. The clev­er­er I am at minia­tur­is­ing the world, the bet­ter I am at pos­sess­ing it. Through imag­i­na­tion only, we can change the world.’ 
Gas­ton Bachelard, Poet­ics of Space 

Dolls’ hous­es and minia­ture have been part of life since the Egyp­tians, who used minia­ture stat­ues to com­mu­ni­cate with the gods and who made minia­ture hous­es. By mak­ing their ware in minia­ture, trav­el­ing sales­men could trav­el light and show sam­ples. Arti­sans to this day show their skills by mak­ing their wares in minia­ture. Think of the art of writ­ing one’s name on a grain of rice. 

In the Nether­lands in the 17th cen­tu­ry women made dolls’ hous­es so beau­ti­ful that peo­ple from oth­er coun­tries; sci­en­tists, kings and queens came to vis­it them to learn about the way the Dutch peo­ple should live. The most famous of these was the house of Petronel­la Oort­man and can still be vis­it­ed in the Rijksmu­se­um in Amsterdam.

Through minia­tur­is­ing (mak­ing things small) you can see the world dif­fer­ent­ly. If you shrink, every­thing around you becomes big­ger: chairs turn into build­ings and a rat can become as big as a mon­ster. But if you shrink the world around you, you become a giant and the hous­es around you become dolls’ hous­es. In such a minia­ture world we can imag­ine what hap­pens. Through the project we can tell these sto­ries and share our ideas. What­ev­er you can think of, you can make it hap­pen in your dolls’ house.


The mak­ing of the giant dolls’ house is always an event: in a room, an art gallery, a shop­ping cen­tre or any space where there is a wall to hang the instal­la­tion. At the venue we, from the Giant Dolls’ House, col­late all the box­es onto a black can­vas and with your help, con­nect them with ropes, ramps and lad­ders so all the box­es are con­nect­ed and come togeth­er to cre­ate a giant dolls’ house.

The Giant Dolls’ House is a patch­work of the iden­ti­ties, ideas and feel­ings expressed by all its mak­ers. The indi­vid­ual dolls’ hous­es are pieces of art, joined to one anoth­er with ropes and lad­ders becom­ing a col­lec­tive instal­la­tion. Can you tell a sto­ry about the hous­es you see? How would you trav­el through the dolls’ hous­es? Fol­low the ladders.

180309 17 Edenton Kipshaw black copy copy
Peanut Factory, Edenton, North Carolina USA. Photo by Kip Shaw

Installations, lectures and workshops

June 2020

LFA2020, Alone Together - Virtual Giant Dolls' House Installation with Oxfam

<p><em><em>Contributions came from the UK and internationally including the USA, Australia, Netherlands, Greece, India, Spain and Thailand. Companies who participated included Ali Warner Photography, City Planista, Feista4u, Lee Evans Partnership, McCloy + Muchemwa Architects, Peanut Factory, Stavropoulou Architects. Schools and organisations who participated included 1st Lewisham Park Scouts, Archimake, Bootham School, Cragside C of E Primary, King’s Lynn School, Manchester Libraries, Messy Church St Andrews, Mount Stuart Primary School, North Ealing Primary School, Northbridge House Senior School, Poole Museum, Scotts Park Primary School, Shamble Hurst School, Share Community, St Osmund's School, STAR Student Action group, Valley Invicta Kings Hill School, Welsh House Farm Primary School. Thank you to everyone involved!</em></em></p>
November 2019

At Home in Sheffield,Yorkshire Artspace

<p>Installation with my Fav Spaces, Sheffield Foodhall, Sheffield University Second year and participants from drop in workshop with Jennifer Booth </p>
June 2019

LFA 2019 Stand as One,V&A Museum of Childhood with Oxfam

<p>Contributions from workshops in Za’atari Refugee Camp, New Horizon Youth Centre, Colne Engaine Church of England Primary School, Valley Invicta Primary School at Kings Hill, Starks Field Primary School, Woodside High School, Upton-by-Chester High School, Bootham School, Qatari School, Za’atari, Jennifer Frewin (architect), Rob Chivers (urban green) and participants to the V&amp;A Museum of Childhood workshop</p>
April 2019

Giant Dolls’ House for Goa,Museum of Goa

<p>Hosted by Museum of Goa. Contributions from Goa College of Architecture Students, [email protected], Green Meadows School, Indiranagar Bookworm Library, Mezbo Artists, Cacara Bookworm Library, Chaitali Morajkar Art Class and participants to the MOG workshops (with Louise Ten Bosch, Noreen van Holstein and the MOG Team)</p>
June 2018

LFA 2018,Downstairs at The Department Store

<p>Hosted by Squire and Partners Architects. Contributions from Squire and Partners, Sudbourne Primary School, Clapham Youth Centre and participants of the one day workshop (with Lala Thorpe from Artescape, Shelter, Sophie ten Bosch and Charlotte Fisher)</p>
October 2017

Peanut Factory Edenton, North Carolina (run by Julia Townsend and Lincoln Adams)

<p>Visitors to the workshop made dolls’ houses, children from the Gates Country High School, the John A Holmes High School, the Studio 551 arts club and the Boys and Girls Club Edenton, Professional Dolls’house makers (Beverly Kirchmeir and Vero Brentjes) with Louise ten Bosch<br /></p>
October 2017

The Doodle Bar with UAL Chelsea School of Art, Interior Design

<p>First year students of Shibboleth Shechter and Colin Priest made dolls’ houses on their first day in London about where they are from and participants in the day long workshop (with Ellidth Watson, Sophie Walker and Victor ten Bosch)<br /></p>
June 2017

LFA2017 (partner event) in JW3 (Will Jennings)

<p>Children from Fitzjohn’s Primary School Nursery Class (Silva Latoracca), from Artescape (Lala Thorpe and Lorraine McCourt), from Swiss Cottage School (Nicole Marks) and Chigwell Primary School, Holmes Miller Architects, Spark, Modelshop of MAKE architects and Erika Suzuki</p>
January 2017

The jamjardubai,Dubai as part of al Quoz Arts Festival

<p>Visitors to the two day workshop with a contribution from Syrian artist Sylva Karakit<br /></p>
November 2016

AUD,American University Dubai, Arts Department

<p>Staff and students of Professor Julia Townsend, Professor Saba Qizilbash, Professor Annemaria Lambri and Professor Nadine Bitar Chadine, Dr Bilal Wajid, children from International School of Art and Science, students from Gizela Van Der Sandt, among others<br /></p>
October 2016

UAL Chelsea College of Arts,School of Interior Design

<p>Students and staff made dolls’ houses (with Shibboleth Shechter and Colin Priest)<br /></p>
June 2016

LFA 2016,Maestro Arts Gallery with Shelter

<p>Children from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, the Roche School (Susi Pruce) and Tower House School (Jon Wolf), Beneficiaries of the Red Cross Destitution Centre in Dalston (with Cindy Hanegraaf), Diony Karpaiou, and Takero Shimazaki Architects<br /></p>
October 2015


<p>Student from the department of architecture, led by Simon Beeson and Dr. Willem de Bruyn</p>
October 2015 Workshop

Fun Palace Event,Raynes Park School with Shelter

<p>Two hour long workshop made dolls’ houses</p>
July 2015 Workshop

#Transacting: Exploring the dolls’ housing market, organised by #Critical Practice,House Guard Parade Arts market

<p>Day-long workshop filled the existing dolls’ houses</p>
June 2015 Installation

LFA 2015,Headquarters of Shelter, a housing and homelessness charit

<p>Children from Duncombe Primary School, office of ALL-design and Ana Aruaujo (with Artescape and Shelter)<br /></p>
April 2015 Installation

Day-long workshop,The Gallery in Richmond, run by Mhairi Hindle

<p>(with Artescape)<br /></p>
October 2014 Installation


<p>Students from Tower House School and Artescape (with Artescape)</p>