UFO Chicken Coop


Saint Louis Science Center


Ewelina Andrecka


June 2016


Dave Callahan

Dedicated to Gary Larson.
I am lucky to work with atypical tasks and unusual users.  In the last ten years, I’ve learned to squeeze a writer’s studio into a three-foot wide gap between buildings, to fit a family of six into a house on a forested lot where no trees could be cut, and to sensorially reproduce Poland’s 1979 “winter of the century.”  But this time I was astonished.  The request was: „Will you design a chicken coop?”  This is the very first time that users of my design will NOT be humans. To add to the abstraction, the creatures who will inhabit the structure are distant cousins of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex.  Still, they need safety, comfort, and decent ventilation.  They fight and have social lives; they require warmth and care.  They lay eggs.

After lengthy research, my studio took an experience-based approach. Using Stanislavski’s method to identify better with our clients, we thought like chickens as we pecked and chicken-walked around the office.  Not only did this approach help us find forgotten popcorn and coins, it also allowed us to design a novel chicken dwelling.  Will the chickens appreciate it?  Will they be happy there?  Garrett, a 12 years old boy who runs his own chicken / eggs business on his parent’s farm and has offered some of his chickens to SLSC claims the hens should be just fine: the coop is easy to clean, it ventilates well and gives a lot of shadow below. „What about snakes?” I’ve asked him referring to chicken safety issue. „See the ones with brown feathers and falcon-alike heads?”, he replied as if nothing, ” They chew snakes like spaghetti, no problem!”. Long live the Carnivorous Chickens!