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ERA Architects


Repurposed junk: A chicken coop

by ERA Architects

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk”
–Thomas Edison.

One thing that attracted us to rural living was a sort of environmental frugality: You try to figure out how to accomplish what needs doing with what you’ve managed to save.  (This notion applies to the practice of heritage conservation as well.)  Hoarding is admittedly easier here than it was in the city: Now we have the garage, the barn, the shed, the back of the lot….  But the idea of turning waste into usefulness (central to the practice of farming as we see it) percolates into all manner of rural living, and provides a close and satisfying connection to our practice, whether working in the garden, tending to our beehive, or building a chicken coop.

The goal for the chicken coop was to use as many found materials as possible. We did have to buy hinges, insulation, and roofing, but most we were able to salvage: dimension lumber offcuts for the main frame, old flooring for coop siding, baseboards for the drawbridge stile doors (front and back), and an old set of shutters for inside the main door (giving the chicks something to walk on).

The entire coop rests on some discarded sections of telephone poles that were found behind the barn and the fence is made of a score of palettes, which the local hardware stores are happy to unload.

Edison’s joke about “junk” perfectly expresses this idea of being imaginative with the materials around you. But for us there’s also a bigger picture: the idea that wherever we go, we inherit a set of conditions and have to figure out how to best respect them and collaborate with them.

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