The Sheffer Chicken Coop
When you grow up deep in the heart of a big US city, you don’t see chicken coops so when Brooklyn-born architect Stephen Cassell was asked if he would consider designing one for a client, it meant doing some basic research into the lives of hens.
He looked at the space needed by different poultry breeds, ventilation and heating requirements, nesting box design, access for both birds and people, and ease of cleaning.
His conclusion: form follows fowl. Stephen came up with three options, including one that was all concrete and very sculptural. He knew he definitely didn’t want it to be the more usual kind of coop which is mostly all function.
The winning design is now known as the Sheffer Chicken Coop. It’s framed in timber and steel, and has cedar boards for the end walls and lining the inside.
The floor is concrete to keep out foxes and other predators. But this is an architect-designed, high-spec contractorbuilt coop in an exclusive farming community, so it’s an upmarket kind of slab with radiant floor heating to keep the coop warm. A cold night in the East Hamptons can see temperatures fall to below 0°C, and in bad winters to below -15°C, so they didn’t want to end up with “a bunch of dead chickens in winter,” says Stephen.
The outside is clad in aluminium shingles, each with its corners turned up. That doesn’t follow fowl but just looks beautiful says Stephen, casting shadows across the coop throughout the day. The walls have vents built in so air flow can be regulated on hot days without causing a cold draft.
Inside, the coop has eight nest boxes - one for each hen - and roosting perches for sleeping. Manure boxes sit underneath and can be easily removed for cleaning.