Poultry Houses of the Ultra-Wealthy

Root Simple reader Christopher Calderhead tipped us off to a story in the Guardian on the plans by British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey to build a neo-classical chicken coop. Odey will, apparently, be spending at least £100,000 just for the stone. The Telegraph also covered the story and has more details on the construction,

The temple’s roof – adorned with an Anthemia statuette – will be fashioned in grey zinc; the pediments, cornice, architrave and frieze are in English oak; and the columns, pilasters and rusticated stone plinth are being hewn from finest grey Forest of Dean sandstone.

Sir Peter’s duck house.

This isn’t the first poultry house to cause a scandal in Britain. In 2010 Sir Peter Viggers claimed a £1,645 duck house as part of his expenses as an member of parliament.

Now if your taste runs more towards Dwell Magazine than the neo-classical, a British company sells a £1,950, “Nogg” chicken coop. Modern design, apparently, comes with an even higher price tag than Sir Peter’s duck house!. And, like most modern design, the Nogg is more conceptual than practical. Looks like a tight squeeze for a couple of hens. The Nogg could get Prince Charles started on on one of his anti-modernist architecture rants.

Not to be outdone on this side of the pond, the current issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine (“dedicated to more and better small-flock poultry”) has a cover story on Brent Engelhardt and Beth Roark’s 100 bird chicken coop, which features a fake western town facade. A lot of the materials were scavenged to keep costs low (Engelhardt works in construction), but the couple admits the project was extravagant. Engelhardt and Roark remarked, “we wanted to build something we could enjoy as much as the chickens would.”

Engelhardt and Roark make a good point–you have to stare at the thing for years so your coop might as well look decent. To be honest, I’ve regretted not paying more attention to aesthetics when I built our coop. I am much more happy with the chicken run our architect friend John Zapf designed for us.

The east elevation of Odey’s coop.

Of course Odey’s coop is a bit over the top, to put it mildly. The symbolic meaning of a hedge fund manager, who profited off the financial collapse, building an elaborate stone chicken house has ruffled a few feathers in Britain. But I have to admit that I share the same neo-classical pretensions. However, being on a more limited budget, my neo-classical chicken coop will have to be constructed with used futon frames and scavenged bags of stucco.

Odey coop, south elevation.

To that end, if you’d like to recreate Odey’s neo-classical chicken house in futon frames and stucco, you can download a pdf of the plans here. And, I have to point out, the Romans did not build coops like Odey’s. To see what they built, check out our post on the sacred chickens of ancient Rome.

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  1. That is pretty crazy! I agree about the aesthetics, though. We finally got around to painting ours and it is a lot cheerier to go out to early in the morning. I also plan to paint William Carlos Williams’ “So much depends…” poem on the side.

  2. I suppose my chickens are less than sacred since their abode is two Rubbermaid boxes with holes in the fronts and open to the elements. Something nicer would make me happier. But, if I had these elegant coops, my house would look shabbier than it is.

    There are no futon frame buildings in the works, but I did scavenge some squares that are bolted onto the bottom of appliances for a better setup than I have now.

    The duck house in the pond is outrageous, too.

    While I am aware of and appreciate the aesthetics of anything, Rubbermaid boxes were instant, already painted and have proved to be easy to unstack and remove to the lawn and clean.

    As for the divining chickens, my hens must be trying to tell me something. Sometimes, in the morning they just look at their food and turn away. I was taking it personally, thinking they were ignoring food to just hurt my feelings. jk Now, I realize they are trying to send a message. However, I don’t know what was the question.

  3. I always laugh when I see decorated poultry houses. Chandeliers? It’s hard enough to keep my own house dusted. What with their scratching and dander, chickens create the stickiest, densest dust! Though, a cobwebbed, dusty chandelier in the chicken house would be just the thing for Halloween. I think I’d better go decorate right now to have it aged just right for the holiday.
    –Terry at HenCam.com

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