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Rakov Potok, Croatia
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Chickenville is a unique chicken coop project located in Rakov Potok, a small village near Samobor, Croatia. Being not only an eco friendly poultry farm, but a tourist-educational site as well, the settlement is meant to introduce visitors to chicken raising. The very thing that started the project was a realization that local preschoolers had no idea "where the eggs come from", which was quite surprising, this being a rural area.

Therefore, the idea was to create a multifunctional space/project that would serve both as a regular poultry farm and a place to bring visitors in. So that's where the initial thinking came from: this was to be a small "village", a settlement of sorts with all the basic functions such as housing, services, plazas, streets and public buildings. In order to enable visitors' access, a "public" street was formed in the very middle. This is a shared central area visually connecting the coops, but not interrupting the basic poultry farming function. The Chickenville's central zone, enabling visitors' and farmers' access (feeding, maintenance, cleaning), is then surrounded by the chicken's housing/living units.

The project's very first challenge was to bring together the functional demands of an eco friendly farm and those of a family farm. The second challenge was to make contemporary design - using traditional materials - still adhere to the look and charm of a rural chicken coop. All the built units follow their respective functions, as well as the very strict parameters and regulations on eco friendly poultry farming, providing chickens with proper housing and making farmers' work and maintenance easier and simpler. The materials used are typical for the area's farm buildings (unfinished fir, chicken wire). Because of a limited budget, all the work has been done by amateur metal workers, the investor's neighbors and friends.

Considering all the different functions and purposes, Chickenville has a total of 3 different types of units. The first group houses 400 egg laying hens, the second some 100 broilers, and the third 30 chicks with their hens. The hens and chicks' area is located in the very center, fenced in and provided with its own outdoor area. The egg-laying hens are housed in 4 "blocks", one for each of the 4 respective breeds.

All the units are raised off the ground, their sides almost fully openable. Lifting the units off the ground creates a protected, shaded area underneath, and the sides' ability to be opened allows for the removable bottom "drawers" to be easily accessed and cleaned. The most common unit type was developed for the the egg-laying hens. Designed to house 25 hens and one rooster, each unit makes a clear separation between the sleeping area and the nesting area. This is easily visible both in the unit's plan and its volume. The sleeping area design had to follow the roosting bar locations (for the hens' sleeping and resting). These bars need to be positioned at a very specific angle/slope, at a very precise distance from each other, both vertically and horizontally. These requirements in turn formed the angle of the bottom and top surface. The second part of the unit houses the nesting area, which needs to be easily accessible both for farmers and the coop's visitors: hence the openable front side. The second unit type is meant for the hens with chicks, just in case some egg laying hens need to be replaced in the future, due to natural causes. This zone and this unit's plan is formed by soft, round forms, in order not to interfere with the visitors' movement and their circling around.

Since the third unit type was meant to house broilers, there were not too many parameters to follow, aside from the required size. Therefore, this unit ended up being a simple rectangular shaped box with a single sloped roof and a flat floor surface. This design covered main requirements - it is now a sleeping area plus a covered outdoor area. Since this is a tourist project as well, an additional work was to be done for the visitors' easier orientation. Chickenville got its visual identity developed: it now has its own coat of arms, its own flag, named plazas and even the street numbers.

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bostjan, November 2nd, 2022
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