Chicken Coop Architecture

I have a guest post over on on how to build a chicken coop:

“Architect meet your client: the chicken. You’re about to become a coop buildin’ Frank Gehry. Keeping chickens is mostly about figuring out their housing arrangement. The rest is easy—chickens are a lot less trouble than a dog. Now I wish I could offer a one-size-fits-all chicken coop plan, but living situations and climates vary. Instead, I’ll offer what the gifted architect Christopher Alexander calls a “pattern language,” a set of general guidelines you can use to get started building your coop.”

Read the rest here.

And a special thanks to David Kahn of Edendale Farm for the architect metaphor. Mrs. Homegrown was not happy that I used Gehry as an example (suggesting that he would build a flashy, twisty chicken coop out of titanium that would leak and get raided by raccoons). I just mentioned him because he’s the only architect most people can name. Come to think of it, most of the architects you can name are all kinda silly. A Rem Koolhaas coop would probably look great in the CAD program but also get raided by raccoons. But I digress.

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  1. Beautiful coop! Maybe you can get over to see this FLW redwood version…

    Architect Eric Lloyd Wright, son of Lloyd and grandson of Frank, attended a ceremony celebrating the designation. He was pleased to see that the original redwood interior, windows and doorways, and brick fireplace were intact. So was the long, sloping roof, which his father had designed to form a carport and breezeway that connects with a redwood chicken coop structure behind the house.

  2. Great article (Guantanamo reference notwithstanding).

    The Permaculture Design course I attended had a similar presentation by the instructor. I’ve been meaning to pull those notes as I build our coop. One pattern I remember from that presentation was the proximity of the roosting bar to the roof, that chickens like to be close to the roof (yet still have room to be comfortable) so that they feel secure from predators. Any thoughts on that spacing?

  3. Chris,

    That’s an interesting detail I had not thought of, but it makes sense. In the wild they would probably roost on mid-level tree branches and it makes sense they would want cover from owls. I’m guessing they would need enough space between roost and roof to stand up and get on and off.

    As to Frank Lloyd Wright, I meant to say living architect. And thanks Heidi for the Eric Lloyd Wright chicken coop link! And that Louis Kahn documentary, “My Architect” is unforgettable.

  4. This is a great post – thanks! Nice article too. I meant to mention it at the Backwards Beekeepers meeting yesterday but forgot.

    We are mulling over designs right now at Camp Ramshackle. Hopefully this will be the year of the chicken for us.

  5. Nice! Do your chickens actually use the little gangplank? We had one for a while, but our chickens preferred to jump/fly up and down.

    We also had 2 levels of roosts inside, but ended up taking down the lower one, since they never used it.

  6. I built my first chicken coop in a day using leftover scrap wood, and it has been evolving ever since. After I move, I’m planning to build a new one with all the knowledge I’ve gained along the way, but chickens are pretty easygoing creatures who don’t demand much.

    The only thing I wish I had added to my coop was some sort of storm doors. When I built it, I was a lot more worried about ventilation and keeping them from overheating, but now when there is a storm going I have to throw a tarp over it to keep rain from blowing in the vents.

  7. Something to possibly mention is planning approval/zoning. I know at least one person who built a fantastic coop, then the council made them tear it down.

  8. Rurality,

    Yeah, my hens use the gangplank. I suspect banties would just fly up. I think it’s a good idea to provide this feature, especially for the larger breeds. I think it might minimize leg injuries.

  9. Just added an extension to what I call the “Winchester Mystery Coop” for its ever-evolving building schedule. I do take issue with the “chickens are a lot less trouble than a dog” bit, though — going through a bout of flock cannibalism right now. Our puppy has not — to my knowledge — yet feasted on the flesh of his sister. 😉

  10. Heh, interesting discussion of “chicken architecture”. As a former architecture student, I’ll wade in here as annoying as anyone. I love Wright, but he was (like many visionaries) woefully impractical; many Wright buildings are plagued with structural/mechanical problems (see Falling Water, for one). Anyone interested in new, earth-centered architecture, should check out Malcolm Wells.

  11. Hey I have read what you wrote. That’s a awesome article and I found the article very helpful. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article on the blog. I found that my article/blog post here which is Building a chicken coop is really on the subject let me know what you think about it?

  12. I tried building my own coop at home and it wasn’t successful, even though I had a chicken coop plan. I guess I am not much of a woodworker. At the end my friend who’s a wood worker helped me build it. Thanks for the information, I wish I would’ve visited your site before building my coop.

  13. I am very familiar with Mr. Wells’ architectural work and I must say they are amazing. There is no way to compare Wright’s work with that of Malcolm as they are different. Both are professional but if you look closer you will see that Malcolm’s work are more shall we say structurally sound.
    Thanks for letting me share.

  14. “Chicken Guantanamo”? that’s funny 🙂 I like chickens more than dogs and cats, specially bantam chickens, ‘just fun to watch. Thanks for this interesting post.

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