Maybe you think a child's first experience with architecture comes via building blocks or Lego. But we experienced designers know those tykes are just monkeying around with scale models, absent any real-world practicality; they'd never stand up to even a first-year architecture school class crit. A child doesn't truly cross the threshold into intelligently designing habitable structures until they step up to Pillow Forts.
Thus experienced architect Ben Pell, who's based right around the corner from Core77 HQ at PellOverton, has codified the art and science of constructing pillow forts for dad-centric website Fatherly. We've digested his teachings and here's our takeaway of things your child should be considering:Architecture Style
Should your child go with a Buttress Fort centered around a retaining wall? Or the more basic Tunnel Fort, where the negative space created by roofing a sofa provides the livable area? Or the more advanced Compound Fort, which ties multiple pieces of furniture into a cohesive structure united by a grand design vision?
Materials, Walls & Interior
All pillows are not created equal. Which types will be equal to the task of providing structure, and which will be relegated to merely providing cushion-y interior comfort?
Sheets are thin enough to admit light, providing a clerestory function, whereas blankets are opaque and more private--but also heavier, creating a potentially disastrous collapse if structural loads are not considered.
To support the roofing, Pell has one method using static materials: "Identify what you're going to use as ballast weights (shoes, stacks of books and coffee table legs all work well); then wrap the sheets over the top of the pillows and pin them to the floor using the ballast."
Lastly, there is one alternative ballasting method Pell mentions, a novel Labrador-based system: "We try to make sure the dog isn't in the room, because if he gets interested he knocks things over. But he's a lazy old lab, so sometimes we just tuck the sheets under him while he's sleeping. They make good weights."