Ziren Zhou from the School of Design at Hunan University in Changsha, China has conceived WHECAT – eco-friendly cat houses made from wheat straws. These have won him the Design for Social Impact Award for 2020 organized by design magazine Core77. In the design process, he was committed to reducing straw burning that is one of the most significant contributors to air pollution, especially in China.
Having experimented for a long time, Zhou arrived at making traditional straw-woven textile for commercial products. This way, straws will not be burnt and become an additional source of income for farmers, he thought.
Core77 Design Awards is held annually to promote individual design firms, as well as students from around the globe. There are 18 distinct design disciplines in which entries can be submitted and each category has a student winner, which is a fine idea to promote young designers and architects.
Wheat straw is loved by cats, which makes the design more meaningful. The wheat straw braided structure not only makes up a cool and comfy cat nest but also a cat scratching board at the same time. The top of the cat house is also bent into the shape of a cat’s ears so that it looks attractive to felines.
This unique cat house design has a huge social impact and potential to change the perception of wheat farmers toward straws that are generally seen as waste material. It will help farmers earn money and reduce air pollution as well.
Currently, the design team is working with animal protection organizations to launch a low- cost, degradable stray cat nest, which will reduce environmental degradation but also generate funds for stray cat sterilization and rescue.