A House of Dovecotes - Mariel Kaiser Crompton


May 2015

„Pliny the Elder goes on to speak of the 'mania' for pigeons, which, in his day, existed to such an extent in Rome that veritable 'towns' were sometimes built upon the roofs of houses for their use...“                                      

– A Book of Dovecotes, A.O. Cooke

In her grand english townhouse, Jane Darwell found a pigeon timer and “A Book of Dovecotes” by A.O.Cooke. These heirlooms of her grandmother created a fantastic dreamworld in her mind,  a forgotten world, in which pigeon breeding has been existing for thousands of years and is still remaining active in pigeon racing events today. She decides to invite these lost and unappreciated utopias into her house and to refill her home with new untold stories.

The front house – her home and that of many generations before her – has to be emptied to gain as much space as possible for the pigeons of the streets of London, which are all lost carrier pigeons from a time beyond her reach. A different scale is created for the newly gained spaces that are created with the help of literature about the architecture for pigeons.

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A central room in the attic provides food for the feeding grounds on top of Janes shrunken rooms through a complex system of pipes. A sprinkler system scatters silver sand, which absorbs the dust and dirt and drains into the sewerage system through a giant funnel at the bottom of the house. A gigantic machine is the result of Janes fantasies in the midst of which she continues a happy and moderate life.

The diverse types of walls of her rooms enable her to get in contact with the pigeons in different ways. Some walls are solid with scattered pigeon holes, some are nesting shelves, allowing the sounds of the scratching, cooing and fluttering birds to percolate via the wood into her rooms. The exterior walls and the roof of the house have become nothing more than a membrane, allowing the birds, the wind and rain to flood into the interior.

„...This was an arrangement by which the birds could be fed from the exterior of the house through an elaborate system of pipes and troughs...The most perfect nicety of adjustment must have been required...“                    

    – A Book of Dovecotes, A.O. Cooke


Mark Proosten