Meet the Design Firm with a Hot Pink Chicken Coop Outside Its Office

Three hens named Heidi, Gretel, and Gertrude have been living happily at Sasaki Associates.

sasaki chicken coop

Photo courtesy of Sasaki

Sasaki Associates knows a thing or two about urban agriculture. The Watertown-based global design firm installed more than 100 vegetable garden crates in its parking lot last year. But this year, the company took it a step further by building a hot pink chicken coop outside its office.

“When we started our program of urban farming and urban gardens here at Sasaki, we thought ‘Bringing chickens in here is just what we need.'” says Isabel Zempel, a landscape architect and principal at the firm.

Zempel, who owns 16 chickens of her own, offered to bring three of them to Sasaki for the summer. The office full of architects, urban designers, landscape architects, graphic designers, and civil engineers immediately got to work on a design for their dwelling. Three and a half weeks later, the coop was born. The hot pink hen house easily stands out next to the brick mill building that Sasaki is housed in.

“We actually took the design concept from the industrial nature of the actual mill buildings,” explains landscape architect Phillip Dugdale. “It was a really great opportunity for a small team of architects to kind of test out how a design firm would design a chicken coop.”

After receiving the necessary permitting from the town of Watertown, the coop was constructed in the office’s Fab Lab, which allows designers to do quick-fire prototyping for design models. The coop is complete with three nesting boxes and several roosting poles.

“We wanted it to be simple, well-executed, and bold,” says Dugdale. This boldness is evident in the paint color choice.

Then, the Zempel brought in her three hens: Heidi, a Rhode Island Red, Gretel, a Bantam Chicken, and Gertrude, a Buff Orpington. Each week over the summer, Sasaki employees signed up for a week to take care of the chickens—feeding them, giving them water, and cleaning the coop. The helpers of the week were then rewarded with eggs—15 or so of them are produced each week.

The coop is centrally located in Sasaki’s courtyard, which is also home to a parking area, the company’s gardens, and an outdoor deck that proves to be a popular spot during lunch. From there, everyone can enjoy the company of the hens in their humble abode.

“It’s bright pink—everybody can see it from the windows,” says Dugdale. “(The coop is) something exciting, it’s something different, it gets people talking at lunchtime.”

The chickens have brought Sasaki and the surrounding community closer, says Zempel. She explains they’ve also drawn Sasaki’s employees closer to their food source, making for a rewarding experience. Eventually, the firm plans to explore beekeeping on its rooftop. For now, though, the designers at Sasaki will make the most of their time with Heidi, Gretel, and Gertrude until they’re ready to spend the winter back at home in the suburbs with Zempel.

“We promote urban agriculture. We care about our environment,” says Zempel. “It’s in our culture as a firm to basically preach what we are doing out there and do it in our own house.”

See the coop construction in action below.