Asphof Hen Unit
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An eco-chicken coop; Photo by LSVProject Name: Asphof Hen Unit
Year: 2002
Owner: Matthias Eglin
Location: Rothenfluh, Switzerland
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Extensive
System: Custom
Size: 10764 sq.ft.
Slope: 6%
Access: Inaccessible, Private
Submitted by: and Hochschule W?denswil

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:
Architect: Mangold Wood Construction
Design Consultant: Hochschule W?denswil
Owner/Designer: Matthias Eglin
Photo Courtesy Hochschule W?denswil, by Pia ZanettiPhoto by Linda S. Velazquez, 9-05Grasses and other crops on the roof
Greenroofs appear on two levels of this organic chicken coop serving 2000 chickens. The owners desired the target dry grass meadow of the surrounding landscape to establish itself (2003) on the chicken coop to provide temperature and ventilation control for the "bio" hen unit and integrate it in a sensitive manner. So, a Norwegian-style greenroof was established on the Asphof (Chicken Coop or Hen Unit) for Canton Basle Rural's Nature and Countryside Protection Commission. The owner also has particular medicial needs, so certain specific plants are grown atop the hen unit, resulting in happier hens, according to the owner. The 1000 m? roofscaped area was created with material occurring naturally on site, in line with the design produced by the Environment and Natural Resources section at the University of W?denswil.
View on top of the roofA cool roof for chickens; Sept 05
Since the load-bearing capacity of the metal roof was limited (100 kg/m?), pieces of lightweight China reed had to be introduced as the lower substrate (15 cm layer, uncompressed) to achieve the desired water retention capacity. Above this was placed a 5 cm layer of loamy humus topsoil from the former orchard area. After one year the China reed volume compressed to 10cm.

Using this type of construction, the only additional cost to the farmers was 10,000 Swiss francs for the support structure; the rest of the landscaping materials were already owned by them (China reed grows on site). To combat possible erosion, Phacelia was selected as the first plant to be sown, a species which is fast growing and improves ( i.e. breaks up) the soil. In phase two, mown grass from a dry meadow will be spread on top of this to promote the establishment of the local dry meadow on the roof.

The greenroofs control temperature and ventilation inside the building: in summer the heat of the interior is reduced by up to seven degrees compared with the outside temperatures due to cooling through evaporation and insulating effects. In winter the improved heat insulation helps to ventilate the building. The quality of life of the hens has increased their productivity through greater egg-laying capacity. Linda and Aramis Velazquez visited the farm in September 2005 and enjoyed a lovely lunch here as well as the lively display of hens flying onto both levels of the roof.

Additional thumbnail photos:

A Norwegian-style green roof was established on the Asphof for Canton Basle Rural?s Nature and Countryside Protection; Photo Source:,China reed and top soil as substrates on the metal roof.  Photo Source:, by Pia Zanetti.Check out the medicinal crop grown for glaucoma relief!Green roof on two levels of the wood construction. Photo Source:, by Pia Zanetti.Asphof surrounding with the target dry meadow that should be established on the roof of chicken stall.  Photo Source:, by Stephan Brenneisen.
Also located on the Asphof property is the Hay Shed Greenroof. Read Linda Velazquez's Greenroof Project of the Week feature on of 4.17.10 "GPW: Asphof Hen Unit" here. For additional info, please contact Stephan Brenneisen, Dr. phil Geograph, ZHAW - Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Environment and Nature Resources, Centre of nature management-Urban Greening, Competence Centre Green Roofs, Gr?ntal, Postfach 335, CH - 8820 W?denswil; email:; or Nathalie Baumann, Dipl. BioGeografin, email:
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