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Art Students Inspired

Architects, think Frank Lloyd Wright, often have creative minds, just ask Caroline Chen or Michael Wu.

Without any formal architectural training, Chen and Wu recently produced award-winning home designs — Chen of a telephone-shaped home and Wu of a house shaped like a dog, called the doghouse.

They’re both 11.

As part of the Architecture in Schools program sponsored by Washington Architectural Foundation, 18 art students in the sixth grade at Hunters Woods Elementary were able to explore creative ideas for homes.

Their art teacher, Lisa Foley, floored by the designs, submitted them to a contest held by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which asked architects, artists and students to come up with non-traditional home designs.

Competing with professionals and adults, seven student designs were commissioned to be made into models and given $800 per design.

Wu plans to have his doghouse model up on stilts. “The tongue is going to be painted pink,” said Ellen Synder, who is working on the model for the doghouse. There was some confusion as to whether the tongue would also be a diving board into the home’s above-ground, bowl-shaped swimming pool.

“We’ve been talking about college, and this is something I could put on an application,” said Kelly Kolb, one of the students involved in converting the designs into models.

Oshin Shukla and Danielle Essig, both 12, were found working on converting Shukla’s stapler-shaped home design into a model. “Imagine your Swingline stapler on steroids,” said Foley, who has been at Hunters Woods for five years and also worked on bringing Pandamania to the school last year.

Chen, who designed the home shaped like a telephone, was asked what inspired her. “A telephone,” she said.