Architecture Reseach Office's 60-square-foot chicken coop streamlines a Hamptons backyard.
Architect Stephen Cassell of Architecture Research Office (ARO) says his practice thrives on diversity, and that all architects should work on the occasional fun project. So when he was approached with the chance to design a chicken coop for the backyard of a Hamptons vacation home, the "sheer ridiculousness" of the project made it irresistible. "This was probably the most architectural brain power ever devoted to the problem" of housing chickens, says Cassell. After extensive research and thought exercises ("What if Breuer created a poured-concrete coop?), Cassell and designer Ethan Feuer fashioned a rustic, curved shelter of bent aluminum shingles—an edgy, 60-square-foot avian Airstream. Since the structure was constructed this past summer, ARO has already received requests to design more. "We made a project that works well for the birds, that's our obligation," says Cassell. "The owner was really excited and kept sending iPhone photos of the construction and chicks going in the coop. It's not often you have photos of a bunch of chicks in an architecture office."
Architecture Research Office (ARO) built this sleek, aluminum-clad chicken coop for a Hamptons backyard, both for the challenge and for "the sheer ridiculousness" of the project.
Cassell, who ended up working on a chicken coop, synagogue, and football stadium addition all at the same time, conducted serious research and did a series of thought exercises to figure out how to approach the assignment. After examining a handful of approaches—"What if Breuer created a poured-concrete coop? What happens if we create computer scripting to generate ideas?"—Cassell and designer Ethan Feuer settled on a rustic, curved shelter of bent aluminum shingles—an edgy, 60-square-foot avian Airstream.
The concept was to create a series of folded shingles, textured pieces of aluminum that would complement the more rustic aesthetic.
The relatively spacious interior of the 60-square-foot coop came after the ARO architects delved in the literature, so to speak, and took time to examine the problem. "We made a project that works well for the birds, that's our obligation," says Cassell.
Radiant heating, one of the structure's amenties, is a coop must-have, according to Cassell.
Cassell wasn't kidding when he said they did serious research. "This was probably the most architectural brain power ever devoted to the problem" of housing chickens, he said. They analyzed a variety of factors, including how many square feet each chicken required, how do you collect eggs, and how you keep chickens safe from predators. Undoubtedly, the last factor was one they had not considered on previous projects.
This photo is one of the images of "happy clients" Cassell says ARO has occasionally put on display in their office. The firm has received numerous calls for work, and requests for more coops, since this project went public. "It's sort of shocking how many calls we received," he says. "We did a big project about climate change for MoMA, and this chicken coop has earned us just as many calls."