Friday, November 02, 2007

Friggebod Friday - an introduction


Sheds are held in high esteem by the British public, writes Sy Willmer, Shedworking's Northern Europe correspondent. They take pride of place in most private gardens, enable one to live out Arthur Fowler fantasies on municipal allotments and help shelter sandwiches from sand in much loved beach huts. Yet they are not not alone in their specific shedness: in Britain’s neighbouring European countries one also finds the allotment, garden shed and surf shack. In Holland the Dutch Arthur Fowler may know his weekend retreat as a Volkstuinhuisje (people’s garden cottage) and in Swedish life “dad’s calendar” hangs in the Friggebod. So when is a shed not a shed? When it is a Friggebod.
Sheds are as important to the Nordic societies as they are to the British and the Friggebod is an interesting introduction to the world of Scandinavian sheds for its name reflects the differing attitudes of building law in the European Union. Sweden allows for single story construction of less than 4 metres high (pitched) with an area of up to 15 square metres without the need for permitted building development application. The name is wordplay for the housing minister who first introduced this rule, Brigit Friggebo, and the Swedish word for a shed is Bod.

Scandinavia like most countries has a long tradition of shed building. In fact the Swedish word Bod means more than a just a shed as it commonly refers to a facility that has more possibilities than a building centre purchased “put up” to cover the lawn mower. Then again as expectations differ from place to place, to the average Swede a Friggebod is a shed - consider the Volvo and the Rover.
So what can be highlighted as Friggebod features? The standard area of a Friggebod, 15m2, can adequately accommodate a range of activates from woodworking to home office usage. 15m2 also supplies room enough for a sauna, gym and even overnight accommodation in one’s garden or closer to a hobby or work location. Buildings of these dimensions merit the inclusion of insulation, substantial roofing, doors, windows and the installation of basic building services. A fully kitted out example makes an excellent one room cottage that Thoreau would have been pleased to frequent.
Tradition prevails in Scandinavia: exterior coverings of timber “lock panel” and “sidings” (see image above) are the norm from coast to coast. Colouring of red and yellow never go out of favour for the Swedes and not left too long to fade, although Norwegians seem to just go for dark stained brown wood. A Friggebod can of course be constructed by a building firm or purchased as a self assembly kit but what is really about is building one’s own. Deciding how it will be look, getting the building materials and dragging in friends and family can be a cultural rite of passage in a society far less suburban than others. But whether its Bod, hut or cabin, everyone loves a shed.

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