Where Sheep and Goats Live

Where Sheep and Goats Live

Petting Farm

In the Dutch city of Almere, on the coast of the Ijsselmeer, almost every part of the city has its own petting farm.

There also used to be one in the Den Uyl Park, but it was destroyed in a fire in the early 1980s. After almost 25 years without a petting farm, the municipality of Almere finally took heart in 2005 and hired 70F to build a new petting farm on the foundations of the old one. In 2008, the building was ready at last for small animals to move in. The new building had been financed by sponsoring for the most part.

Without Doors or Windows

In its outer appearance, the petting farm is a wooden cuboid that rests on a concrete foundation. Horizontally applied wooden battens create a quite homogeneous façade. There seem to be no doors or windows. So the question is: how do the goats and sheep get inside or, if they already are inside, will they ever see the light of day? But it would not be a petting farm, if the animals were entirely cut off from the world. So, instead of windows or doors, the building has six shutters – two on each long side, and one on each short side. These shutters may either be opened and closed manually or react on the sunlight. In the latter case, they open in the morning and close at night. The two single shutters on the short sides are for the public, the four on the long sides are for the animals alone.

Sleeping in the Daytime, Awake at Night

The automatic shutters are not the only thing that changes with the alternation between day and night. The wooden battens do not lie smoothly next to each other, but are placed with some distance from one another. On the lower half of the building, they have been mounted on closed wooden panels that serve as a privacy and wind shield. On the upper half of the building, they have been directly applied to the wooden supporting structure. The result is a transparent façade that is not so effective in the daytime, whereas the interior lighting shines through and the silhouettes of the inner life are visible from the outside in the dark. Hence, a building that sleeps in the daytime and is awake at night. Another reason for this open façade was an uncomplicated and continuous ventilation of the building.

One half of the building consists of a stable. The other half comprises toilets and storage on the ground floor, as well as an office and more storage space on the upper floor. The stable part is single-storied.

Sheep in Space?

As regards houses for animals, one does not expect modern buildings of glass and steel, but rather something rustic which means, or at least feels like it should be, something made of wood. With their Petting Farm, the architects of 70F have created a building with a rustic charm whose design is nevertheless so modern that it reminds me a little of the Borg Spaceship from Star Trek.

Project details




Completion: 2008


Area: 126 m²


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