Shrines for the Goats

With Shrine of the Goat only a week away (get your tickets now!) and preparations under way to transform The Old Chapel, we take a look at how architects have embraced these bizarre and intriguing animals, and not only designed with them on their land, but specifically for them.
Chapel Exterior With Goat

Frank Lloyd Wright

A connection with land, nature, and soil – and living within, and not on – was at the centre of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural practice.

Using inspiration from his childhood, Wright designed buildings in harmony with their surroundings, including sustainable agriculture and self-sufficient supplies of home-grown food.

At Taliesin, Wright featured some of the most progressive and sustainable land use ideas of the time, including contour farming; free-range chickens; outside hay storage; a raised-floor barn to recapture cattle body heat; and gas-fired, forced-hot-air hay drying. Wright also had an apple orchard, a plum orchard, raspberries, a vineyard, a rhubarb triangle, a Midway vegetable garden, chive circles, a steer pen, a heifer pasture, a chicken coop, goats (our favourite!), a creamery, horse pasture, forage crops, flower beds and gardens, and ducks.

Image: Frank Lloyd Wright (left) with his wife, Olgivanna, and friend, writer Alexander Woollcott outside the architect’s home, Taliesin, 1935-43. Woollcott holds a baby goat.

Image courtesy of Keiren Murphy

“Taliesin should be more of a garden and a farm behind a workshop and a home. I saw it all, and planted it all, laid the foundation of the herd, flocks, stable, and fowls as I laid the foundation of the house … Taliesin was to be a complete living unit, genuine in point of comfort and beauty, from pig to proprietor.”

Since 2018, Taliesin Preservation has welcomed individuals to live and work each summer to learn about farming, cooking, and healthy food systems, drawing inspiration from Wright’s vision for Taliesin and beliefs that an integral and healthy food system is rooted in great cooperation between people, their community, and their environment.

This connection with nature (and love of goats) clearly aligned with some of his clients.

The Lovness Studio

In 1955, Don and Virginia Lovness visited Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin, where he agreed to design a home and art studio for the young couple.  The following spring they began a two-year marathon of chiseling, laying stone and pouring cement to create their Usonian home on a small lake in Minnesota.

In the meantime, they lived in a tiny camping trailer on site with their two daughters, a cat and a goat.


© Lonnie Lovness

Waterloo City Farm

As London’s most central urban farm, Waterloo City Farm is a community farm located on a previously unused strip of land to the south of Waterloo Station.

Established in 2014 on a formerly overgrown and neglected plot of land south of Westminster Bridge owned by Guys and St Thomas’ hospital, the site has been transformed into a collaborative home for a trio of organisations: architects Feilden Fowles, and the charities Jamie’s Farm and Oasis Waterloo.

The farm aims to provide a learning resource for local schools and the wider communities, offering children in danger of exclusion from their schools a refuge, featuring half an acre of land, barn space, poly tunnels, raised beds, a workshop, walled garden, and animals (including 2 adult goats and 1 baby goat).

As an exploration of the symbiotic relationship of two spaces, Waterloo City Farm is an extroadinary example of meanwhile spaces having tremendous value in a city.

Watch an Open City film about it here.

Oasis City Farm Waterloo For Open House. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2021

© Jim Stephenson

Goat Barn Michael Kuhnlein

© Eric Spahn

Goat Barn by Michael Kuhnlein

Inspired by the design of traditional wooden houses of Bavarian, Kühnlein Architektur have created a simple yet aesthetically pleasing timber goat barn integrated into the landscape.

The small, flat-roofed wooden goat barn is built on a rural site in Eastern Bavaria, Germany and is surrounded by a grove of trees.  The structure sits comfortably within the landscape, opening onto the miniature goat’s grazing pastures.

The simple construction of interlocking stacked planks, together with its captivating design won this project the ‘Holzbaupreis Bayern 2014′, an award for energy-efficient and cost-effective timber architecture.

Find out more here.

Goat towers

A goat tower is a multi-story decorative goat house, modelled on a European garden folly, an early example of which was built in Portugal in the 19th century.

The first goat tower was built at Aveleda, a winery in Portugal’s Vinho Verde region. Since 1981, several other goat towers have been built in South Africa, Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Argentina. The towers typically are multi-story with climbing ramps spiralling the exterior and often become tourist attractions.

GoatTower 2

Who knew that goats had such a presence within architecture?!

Don’t miss your chance to visit Shrine of the Goat on 10 – 12 June for London Festival of Architecture 2022.