During the short six-to-seven-week life of a factory-raised broiler chicken, the bird is crammed into close quarters with thousands of other chickens selectively bred to mature at an unhealthily fast rate.
Given the broilers' uncomfortable living conditions and the ever-growing demand for poultry, Royal College of Art architecture student André Ford has proposed that we instead turn to vertical chicken farms, where lobotomized birds are obliviously raised by the thousand. Explains Ford of these vast Matrix-like structures:
As long as their brain stem is intact, the homeostatic functions of the chicken will continue to operate. By removing the cerebral cortex of the chicken, its sensory perceptions are removed. It can be produced in a denser condition while remaining alive, and oblivious.
The feet will also be removed so the body of the chicken can be packed together in a dense volume.
Food, water and air are delivered via an arterial network and excreta is removed in the same manner. Around 1000 chickens will be packed into each 'leaf', which forms part of a moving, productive system.
Ford sees this project as "pragmatic, not cynical." Despite the environmental costs and cramped conditions of industrial livestock farming, consumer demand for chicken remains high, so farmers might as well make the doomed birds' existences as easy as possible:
I think it is time we stopped using the term 'animal' when referring to the precursor of the meat that ends up on our plates. Animals are things we keep in our homes and watch on David Attenborough programs. 'Animals' bred for consumption are crops and agricultural products like any other. We do not, and cannot, provide adequate welfare for these agricultural products and therefore welfare should be removed entirely.
Earlier in the project I was proposing the chickens would be rendered unconscious, or desensitized by complete removal of the head but this has since been revised. Desensitisation will be achieved by a surgical incision that separates the animal's neocortex, responsible for sensory perceptions, and its brain stem which controls its homeostatic functions. The head remains intact.
Ford has yet to build an actual zombie chicken honeycomb, which would drive his point home further at the expense of any onlookers' sanity.