Chic Sustainability Watch: Trends, Projects & People – Chickens and Urban Agriculture

February 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Are you sick of having to wait a whole year to learn about the latest and greatest greenroof trends?  Well, wait no longer!  We have decided to launch a column dedicated solely to showcasing the most chic, most hip, most creative greenroofs and living walls from around the world.

Twice a month, Linda and I will take turns profiling built projects, noteworthy ideas, competitions, and interesting people in the industry – plus some fun ones thrown in as well.

(Image via: AmuzingPlanet)

As always, no project is too small to catch our eyes or garner attention.  From chicken coops (see below) to football stadiums, we want to highlight it all and bring these projects the attention they deserve.

(Image via: Vincent Callebaut Architectures)

We all know by now that living architecture is good for us and the environment.  Our goal for this blog is to raise it up from its status as the cauliflower of the meal and transform it to the foie gras.  We’re calling it: Chic Sustainability Watch: Trends, Projects & People.

And we would love your help.  Do you know of any particularly cool green roof or living walls projects in the news that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are environmentally friendly?  Send them in to us!


For our inaugural column, I’ve decided to focus on two trends that score high marks on the chic sustainability front – chickens and urban agriculture.  Combine them with a hipper than hip green roof and suddenly you have the object of an eco-warrior’s dreams: a sustainable chicken coop that produces its own fertilizer for crops growing on its roof.

The number of green roof chicken coops that have been constructed is astounding. Do a quick Google image search and you’ll be amazed by how many of our feathered friends live under the naturally climate controlled confines of a green roof. Designs vary from rustic and simple to sleek and modern. Here are some that fall into the latter category.


The winner of a design competition by Sera Architects to build “the perfect chicken coop,” Hen Hedge combines an open rectangular structure with a vegetated roof and living wall.  The result is a stylish hen house that provides shade to its occupants and blends into the surrounding landscape.  The one of a kind coop by Gary Gola + Jeanie Lai was auctioned off at a gala benefitting the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art.

(Image via: Landscape and Urbanism)


Love the idea of a contemporary green roof chicken coop, but not quite ready to harness your inner DIY goddess?  Kippen House may be just the coop for you.  The goal of the coop, according to designer Traci Fontyn, is to “look good, be multi-functional and offer the ability to adapt to the small urban lot.”  And the best part of her design is that the green roof holds 10″ of growing medium, enough to grow small vegetables and herbs.

(Image via: kippenhouse)


When architects Mitchell Snyder and Shelley Martin set out to build a coop for their three chickens, they didn’t lower their design standards.  The “residence” is a stunning four foot cube that keeps the ladies warm in the winter and cool in the summer and provides them with enough space for their daily needs.  It also includes a 4-by-15-foot run.  Above it, the green roof is planted with native Oregon sedums.

(Images via: WebEcoist)


“We started out selling our plans to neighbors, they convinced us to start our website…”  So begins the copy at, a website that sells two types of chicken coops, a “green roof chicken coop” (4′ wide by 4.5′ deep with 16 sf of growing area) and an “herb garden chicken coop” (3.5′ wide by 8′ long with 28 sf of growing area).  The best part is that aspiring urban chicken farmers can choose how much of the work they want to do themselves; customers can purchase plans, kits, or fully assembled coops.

(Image via: GreenRoofChickenCoop)


A competition held by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development called for new and efficient chicken coops.  Winners Peleg/Burshstein Architects and landscape architect Nathan Gulman designed a prefab coop that processes its own waste and is self-powered by renewable energy.  The 200 foot long coop is outfitted with wind turbines, solar panels, and a green roof/living wall.  Water tanks, silos, egg storage, and a waste-treatment system are stored within the coop’s interior.

(Image via: Inhabitat)

So, have these five green roofed chicken coops inspired you to go out and design one of your own?  Remember, everyone deserves the opportunity to surround themselves with chic sustainability, including your chickens!!

Until next time,


EcoBuild London (March 2011)

March 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm

From March 1-3, the London ExCeL hosted the world’s largest sustainable construction fair. It was the biggest EcoBuild yet, with over 50,000 visitors, over 1,300 suppliers, and more than 130 free seminar sessions featuring over 600 speakers.

Mate and verdant conversation with Roberto Ollett

I went with some colleagues for a day, and everyone agreed that the size of the show was nearly unmanageable, both in terms of time availability and mental/ physical endurance. Fortunately, my colleague Roberto Ollett of Eudaimon shared some of his newly acquired (yerba) mate with me, which is very high in caffeine.

Having won the Bristol City Council Public Art & Urban Regeneration commission, Eudaimon is radically reinterpreting the meaning of ‘public art’ by creating a site that will engage biodiversity, urban ecology and community involvement to a derelict part of Bristol. See website for more info. How perfect to share a social beverage (from South America) while discussing a collaboroative socio-ecological greening project!

Entering the massive ExCel to EcoBuild

Chelsea College's Speedo-Willow design

Once inside the trade show, some highlights for me included the launch of the 2011 Integrated Design Habitats competition, a Speedo-woven willow tunnel and herb wall from Chelsea College of Art & Design, and the presence of nature conservation organizations like the Wildlife Trust, Bug Life, Natural England.

On a personal note, the Swiss booth tickled my homesick taste-buds not only with Frey chocolates but also with Basler Läckerlis! Yummmm and happeeeeeeeee!

Some brand-new products were launched at EcoBuild 2011, like:
  • ICS Heat Pumps: the latest in DeLonghi’s inverter-driven heat pump technology
  • EMMVEE Photovoltaics: a new range of mono- and polycrystalline solar modules suitable for use in grid and off-grid applications
  • Wind Turbine: the Evance R9000 wind turbine was the fist and is currently the only 5kW wind turbine to receive full MCS accreditation, making it eligible for the UK Feed-In Tariff scheme
  • Photovoltaic energy roof system: IKO Solar launched two new systems: flexible strips (which are adhered to a roofing membrane), and a cylindrical system (which, when placed loosely on the roof, benefits from additional reflectance from the surface of the waterproofing).
  • Cyclepods: the new Streetpod secures bike frame and both wheels with a single lock.
  • Wood fibre insulation: new natural wood and hemp fibre insulation and construction solutions which provide both thermal and acoustic insulation
  • Energy efficient timber house: the new generation of such houses presented by Stommel Haus

Living architecture at EcoBuild

In terms of green roofs and living walls, such events provide tangible representation of how living architecture fits into the greater building sector. It’s humbling to realize what a small niche we fill. But hey, someone’s gotta do it!

At EcoBuild, all the component sectors of the living architecture industry (substrate, systems, ecology, etc.) held just a tiny sliver of the show. The companies and organizations in attendance were nicely represented, however. Blackdown Horticultural always put on a good show with their big and welcoming green spaces and impressive slopes. Alumasc and Optigreen had big booths and smart-looking business people ready to answer all questions. Shire Mineral had a little booth and many personable visitors. A number of living wall system providers were present, too, providing welcome towers and walls of greenery within the show.

Launch of the 2011 Integrated Design Habitats Competition (IDHC)

The IDHC “[puts] biodiversity at the heart of the built environment for the benefit of all” and celebrates design which accomplishes this. Organised by RESET and, the IHDC was devised to provide a forum for visionaries and innovators in order to design better, more sustainable habitats for everyone.

For this year, the IHDC 2011 was launched at Ecobuild’s Cityscape Stage. Last year’s winners presented their projects, along with 2011 Principal Sponsor (Victoria Business Improvement District) and co-organisers Dusty Gedge ( and Blanche Cameron (RESET). Gary Grant, Chair of Judges, spoke of the urgency to support biodiversity in the built environment.

The first competition ran in 2010, and awards were presented at the London World Green Roof Congress (September 2010). First prize went to Edge Hill Halls by Maria-Cristina Banceanu (1st year architecture student, University of Liverpool), above; second place went to MATRIPOLIS, by Paul Jones and David Dobereiner; and 3rd place went to the highly-commended Seed Catalogue by Susannah Hagan, Silvio Caputo, Mark Gaterell. To learn more about these projects, follow their respective links.

The Cityscape Stage was buzzing with interest

Registration for the 2011 IDHC is from 21 March to 31 July, with entry period from 1 May to 31 July. 1st prize is £2,000, 2nd prize is £1,000 and 3rd prize is £750.

Overall a great day, a massive show, several inspiring projects, numerous impressive technologies, and many great people! Many thanks to all who made EcoBuild a fabulous event and gathering!

~ Christine