Design students get creative with chicken coop projects

A collection of unorthodox chicken coops built by architecture students stand outside the College of Design. The coops were built to house three to five chickens and will remain standing until Oct. 25.

Mackensie Moore

A collection of projects are catching attention on the College of Design lawn this week.

A total of 20 chicken coops were designed and built by 87 sophomore students beginning their first semester in the professional architecture program.

“The chicken coop is a perfect project for a small scale representation that is actually done at full-scale,” said Cameron Campbell, associate professor of architecture.

Students were divided into teams of four or five for the duration of the four-week process. The assignment was to design and build a creative chicken coop that would be sustainable to house three to four chickens.

“There are none that are the same, which shows the range of what is possible,” Campbell said.

Five architecture professors came up with the idea and helped prepare the students for the project. They provided books, research material and guest speakers to offer more insight into what type of environment a chicken needs to survive.

Because of Iowa’s variety of weather, the groups had to come up with a design that would allow for air ventilation as well as protection from the environment. The coops also needed to offer a good quality of life for the chickens so they could lay eggs.

But given creative freedom, many students took their designs to the next level, changing the conception of what a typical chicken coop looks like.

“These aren’t just for function; they connect to a certain type of person,” Campbell said. “What people are going to put in their yard will be an expression of who they are.”

Bethanie Jones, sophomore in architecture, was a member of a group that created a two-story, octagon-shaped insulated coop with a white bark-like design.

“We really strived to create a design that would blend in with the environment because these are backyard chicken coops,” Jones said. “I feel satisfied and confident with our decisions”

To test the coops, the projects have been subjected to outside elements as well as tested by one of Campbell’s own chickens.

Groups will be graded on the design appeal, craftsmanship and the group’s work relationships. They will also be graded on how well their chicken coops will sell.

The chicken coops will be auctioned off starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, in the parking lot of Wheatsfield Cooperative grocery store in Ames.

As self-funded projects, the auction will, hopefully, reimburse the students for the materials with any extra profit going to the Iowa State chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students.

Members of the public can see the projects at the southeast side of the College of Design lawn until Friday, Oct. 25.