Monday, June 30, 2008

Burd Haward Architects - Green Room

Burd Haward are an interesting and eclectic firm with various attractively intelligent garden office and shedworking atmospheres under their belt, many with a genuinely eco-friendly ethic. Above is their Green Room, a self-assembly pre-fab garden office for a writer. The plan is that plants will grow over the external mesh and camouflage the recessed ply walls and roof, leaving only the windows visible (this project was completed in 2005 so it would be interesting to see it now). Below is Casa-movil in the Spanish Pyrenees, a zero carbon prefab holiday cabin that they claim is entirely self sufficient and thus perfect for remote locations. The whole thing is clad in hinged timber panels that can be closed up for protection and when opened provide decking and shade.And while this is Shedworking and not Extensionworking, I think this Cube Extension in Stoke Newington is a triumph.

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Allotment shedworking

Simon, who writes the excellent The Plot Thickens site and has arguably the nicest pallet shed around (pictured above), brought up an intriguing possibility in a comment over the weekend which some people may have missed. He writes:
"I think it would be fantastic if enlightened councils adapted allotments for shedworking. Think about it: All the benefits of shedworking but you still have the journey to work to enforce that life/work separation, but now it's a five minute walk to the allotment and not an hour on the M25. There's actually nothing in the allotment legislation to prevent shedworking as long as it's a side use of the allotment, it would just take a bit of investment in power and telecoms, but even that would pay because shedworkers could afford to contribute to a nice site hut with loo, etc so everyone wins. Bit of a dream I know, but wouldn't it be great if every office worker were to become an allotmenteering shedworker; I'd have to leave my job working on the canals an go back to writing software."
What do readers think?

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Voting closes Friday for Shed of the Year

Go and vote. It's as simple as that.

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Our Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office
specialists.
Click here for more details.

Nortel report backs working from home

Nortel claim that around 80% of its employees are given the tools to telework and 10% work out of a home office full time. Recently, they listed the benefits as they see them:
* Employees who work from home one day a week save an estimated US $500 a year on fuel costs
* An estimated 15% increase in productivity among teleworkers, with 94% of them reporting 15% to 20% greater productivity
* An 11% increase in satisfaction among teleworkers compared to the overall employee population
* Annual real estate savings of about US $9,000 per full-time teleworker
* Savings of approximately US $22 million per year in real estate costs and associated energy usage
* 18% of employees chose "Flexibility" as the #1 reason they like Nortel
* Based on reduced electricity consumption, Nortel's 2,500 registered teleworkers decrease the company's carbon emissions, by 18,070 metric tonnes per year
Via Chief Home Officer
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shedworking in The Independent on Sunday

I spent a very pleasant morning a few days ago with the Independent on Sunday's wonderful Emma Townshend (pictured above with me outside Shedworking HQ) and the extremely positive photographer Teena Taylor. The results are in a very nice piece today in the IoS.

Alex Hartley - pavilion sculpture

Made of steel, glass and limestone, this was first placed outside the entrance to the Business Design Centre in London. Here's what the Cass Sculpture Foundation says about it:
"The scale of Pavilion gives the impression that this is architecture rather than sculpture - both ironical and apt, as an abiding interest in architecture lies at the roots of Hartley's sculpture and wall pieces. In fact this is a massive light box, in which carefully lit interior constructions and photographic panels give the illusion of rooms, steps, corridors and structures. The overhanging canopy and stone forecourt reinforce its presence as architecture, but nothing adds up and we are left mesmerised."
And here's what Hartley says about it:
"I'd like viewers to feel themselves pulled towards it, and find that the views inside Pavilion look more real than the urban space surrounding it."
Via Cass Sculpture Foundation

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vanishing America

Barn, from the Vanishing America exhibition by Michael Eastman at DNJ Gallery, Los Angeles.
Via the excellent eye candy

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Shedworker's Bookshelf - A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan

Subtitled 'The education of an amateur builder', this is a superb account of how Pollan made his own garden office. He engages an architect and builder, but his own input is immense and he gets involved in the nuts and bolts of the whole project from the start, including the actual building of the shed. You can see pictures of the finished project here.

But it's much more than that, as he also looks at the aesthetics of small places, from Venturi's 'decorated sheds' to Frank Lloyd Wright's thoughts about vertical vs horizontal. My copy is full of pencil-marked passages such as this on the attraction of a writer's cabin:
"...it's like a wish for a slightly different angle on things... It might be a view of the same old life, but from out here it will look different, the outlines of the self a little more distinct... a space where I enjoyed a certain sovreignty, where I could shut my door and maintain my desk in a state easily mistaken for chaos..."
An absolutely essential volume.

It's Rainham Sheds, Hallelujah! it's Rainham Sheds

Now here's something to cheer up your Friday. It's Rainham Sheds... I recommend you turn up your volume.
Thanks to Scott Pack

Around the shedworld

Mary is actually working in her garden office now (above)... Folly Fancier highlight a Dutch folly to rent in Essex... Lifehacker looks at an extreme home office makeover... There's now a Facebook petition asking the BBC to turn Hut 33 into a television series... Judit Bellostes enjoys this inflatable teahouse in Frankfurt (below)...Shedworking and its satellite sites have now topped the 1,000 subscribers mark... Shedblog points out that there's only a week to go to cast your vote for Shed of the Year 2008... Chief Home Officer muses on the perfect pet for the home office worker... and he's off on holiday soon too... Home Office Warrior embodies the social networking scene... Emma has been Enterprise Nationing all over England... Help to support Shedworking by clicking on the button below and making a small pledge

Click here to lend your support to: Shedworking and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Alan Coren on working from home

If you're by a radio at 1.15pm today, listen in to Core Coren with the very funny, but sadly now late, Alan Coren on BBC 7. If you miss it, it should be on the BBC's Listen Again gadget for another seven days. Thanks to Philip Johnson for the alert.

Mystery cabin


Shedworking reader David Phillips from Vancouver has sent in these marvellous photos of an installation at Canada's National Gallery in Ottawa which quite naturally caught his imagination. Unfortunately he cannot remember the artist and I'm having no luck tracking down either the artist or the exhibition so if you have more details, please drop me a line.

Shedworking surveillance

One of the most popular clichés about homeworkers (probably only after the one about us always working in our pyjamas or naked) is that we bunk off all the time to go shopping or watch the television. Despite all evidence to the contrary, this appears to remain a stumbling block for many managers in allowing more flexible homeworking options. So while we might not like the idea of it in terms of the theoretical threat to our personal liberty – especiall as we appear to be headed towards an increasingly 1984 surveillance society - would the option of electronic tagging actually encourage a larger take-up of homeworking and shedworking?

To some extent we’re already some way down this path. Earlier this year, researchers at the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK reported that managers in around a fifth of workplaces admitted to monitoring their employees using computer-based systems. Indeed companies such as Brickhouse Securities in the US already offer a pretty wide range of both personal and business GPS tracking products.

The downside? The researchers also revealed that in workplaces where computer checks were operating, reports of work-related strain rose by around seven per cent, rising to 10 per cent in call centres.

Stenner Pallet Playhouse

The pallet renaissance continues. Jonathan Stenner writes to share the playhouse he built for his children:
"The structure is built out of wood that took from old pallets. The floor is pallets that they use to bolt down large equipment during transit. The interior walls, door, and window are As-Is, damaged, items from the local IKEA. I got the paint and carpet sample free from work. I did buy the roof boards and some extra 2x4s. The roof is covered with rubber desk mats that I found on the side of the road. It is about 95% found material or recycled from trash people put on the street. The coolest part of the whole fort is that the IKEA flooring on the interior wall are nail, splinter, and snag free."
I think this is one of my favourite shedlike atmospheres of 2008. Lots more pictures at his blog.If any other readers have photos or details of a pallet build, please send them in.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nine Tiny Feet


Nine Tiny Feet is a very promising new blog by Michael Janzen in which he writes about the construction of a nine square feet building which, while is just about fine for living in (he's 6ft so it would be a bit of a squeeze), he intends to use as a home office. Here's what he says:
"I’m beginning to develop a theory that nine square feet is all we really need and that every square foot after that is for added comfort, vanity, or people."
The design includes a large porch, sleeping loft, small composting toilet, a 12V DC fridge from Koolatron,a kitchen bay window which will contain a sink and stove, and a Dickinson Marine fireplace plus cabinets and solar panels for electricity generation. He's also building a slightly less tiny Tiny Free House.
Via the always marvellous Tiny House Blog

Green shed

By Celine C
Green Books banner 3

Sharing your shedworking space

There's a short but sweet piece about sharing your garden office (or indeed general home office space) with loved ones at sparkplugging (the renamed version of eMoms at Home). Five general tips include:
"Establish boundaries: You have separate email addresses, you need your own work space. It doesn’t have to be separate rooms, but at least have different desks or work surfaces. Clear boundaries will alleviate the “what about my stuff” argument. Corporations have clear boundaries for desk space for very good reasons - like keeping the peace."
Well worth a browse.
Via Enterprise Nation

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A fine pallet

The pallet-building revolution continues. Here's a fine example profiled by materialicious who explains:
"Paul Stankey of HiveModular, along with family and friends, is building a storage barn using pallets from their pals at Loll Designs. The barn is to store materials for the Stankeys’ Rustic Reuse container cabin. What a great idea."
There's more details at the blog of the build (although at time of writing there were access problems so do try again later if it's still playing up).

National Siesta Day


Today is the third National Siesta Day (for more details go to the organisers, Siesta Awareness). Shedworking is a big fan of siestas and let's have no sniggers or sarcasm about slacking off. Siestas in fact boost productivity (so if you work from home and you have a siesta you're probably working fit to burst), improves your health and appearance, reduces stress, prevents accidents and is generally a nice thing to do.

Still not convinced? Well take a look at this great piece in the Financial Times by Rhymer Rigby who writes:
"At its Geneva offices, Procter & Gamble, the consumer products group, has three EnergyPods [pictured above], which resemble loungers with a space-age half-dome wrapped over the headrest, made by a company called Metronaps. "The pods are designed to provide users with a quick recharge that can help maximise the rejuvenating effects of a brief nap," Metronaps says. "This, in turn, helps users do more with their day from both a professional and personal point of view." The pods have proved very popular, especially with sleep-deprived employees such as those with young children and frequent business travellers."
. So take a short nap today and let us know how felt.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Elfostudio

Maybe a little larger than most garden offices and even Peter Gabriel's shed, but I think it still counts - this is Romolo Stanco's recording studio Elfostudio in Tavernago, Italy.
Via Dezeen

Garden office greenwashing?

We featured Glassbox yesterday and Shedworking regular Bill Kratz made a long and pertinent comment which I think deserves its own post:
"Let me preface this comment by saying that I really like the look of the Glassbox product. That being said, their website raises a couple of issues in my mind.

"1) The site states that pricing starts at 18,000 Pounds plus VAT. The smallest Glassbox plan seems to be 3.3m x 3.3m, or 10.89 sq m (117 sq ft). This puts the cost per square meter of this little Glassbox at something above 1,650 Pounds/sq m (~= $302/sq ft). At least by American standards, this puts the cost well into the area of custom (bespoke) projects. So the question is...what benefits does the customer accrue by purchasing a Glassbox rather than contracting for a customized design?

"2) Alex is correct that they "proudly trump their eco qualities." While some of their claims (especially the "usual" ones) are probably good ones, a few others seem to slip into the category of "greenwashing" (a great new term coined by the publishers of an interesting site on the subject at http://www.greenwashingindex.com/ ). For example, the Glassbox site says, "you will be investing in not only your home but in the future of our planet." Huh? Just how does purchasing a Glassbox bring returns for the future of our planet? Perhaps an argument could be made that a Glassbox is a better eco choice than some other structure, but either way resources are being used, not saved or "producing earnings on an investment." I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with purchasing a Glassbox (or any other shed, addition, extension...) or with consuming the resources necessary to produce that structure. I'm just pointing out that the hyperbole of their claims may not reflect the same honesty and minimalism that their design aesthetic reveals."
I'd be interested to know - as would Bill - what you think of the above. Please comment below.

Shedworking is green but...

A nice piece by Michael Graham Richard on Treehugger says that working from home is green and saves money but that most employers are still not keen. He writes:
"In these days of increasing environmental awareness and rising oil prices, telecommuting is gaining mindshare. Yet employers are still reluctant."
This follows CIO Insight Research's Mobility Survey which reveals that just over 50% of CIOs and other senior IT leaders claim their companies discourage fulltime telecommuting (although on the up side, almost one half said that their company's policy had become more pro-telecommuting over the last three years).

A song for shed week

As promised, Fin Raucous has recorded a special song for National Shed Week and it's previewed over at Shedblog. Have a listen and then go and vote for your favourite sheds.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shedworking at Wimbledon

While the worlds of tennis and garden offices seldom collide, you'll be delighed to know that Shedworking is actually taking part in Wimbledon this year. Granted, it's in the TFF Dream Team fantasy Wimbledon league Inter-mini-league, but the point is that we're there and we're playing tennis. Sort of. And in fact more than there - after the opening day's play, the five-strong team that Shedworking belongs to - Soreena's Slices - is in second place overall (and if David Nalbandian hadn't played a stinker of a match, maybe we'd have been on top). I'll keep you breathlessly up to date with our date with stardom.

Jan Stradtmann at Manor Garden allotments

As regular Shedworking readers will know, the Manor Garden Allotments in London have been taken from their allotmenteers and bulldozed to make way for Olympic preparations. Jan Stradtmann got there just before the sheds were removed and took a series of marvellously dark shots. Here's what he says:
"As I entered the allotments for the first time with knowledge of the tennants’ planned eviction, it felt like I was entering a crime scene. Photographing the huts shortly before their elimination transformed them into symbols of an injustice to come."
Via Lifeisland.org and The Photographers' Gallery

Portavilion

Portavilion is a portable public art project being held in various parks in London during the summer as part of the London Festival of Architecture (runs until July 20) and features the work of several wellknown contemporary artists who were asked to "explore the possibilities for temporary, large scale public art". Above is Dan Graham's 'Triangular Pavilion With Circular Cut-Out Variation H'. I'm showing my ignorance here, but apparently Graham is considered the “guru” of artists' pavilions and his aim is to "produce a sense of uneasiness and psychological alienation through a constant play between feelings of inclusion and exclusion." Which is what it's like most days in my garden office. This one is a mixture of transparent glass and two-way mirrors with a clear glass ceiling and is inspired by Chinese garden pavilions, rococo mirror pavilions,19th century gazebos and urban bus shelters.Below is Annika Eriksson's 'The Smallest Cinema in the World – For the Wealthy and the Good', a six seater cinema which will show her own short films.There are also pavilions by Monika Sosnowska and Toby Paterson.
Thanks to Emma Townshend for the tipoff

Choosing a shed - Glassbox

We mentioned Peterborough-based Glassbox in passing recently but it's worthy of more than six words. As you can see, there's lots of glass but other nice features include frameless rooflights, attractive louvres, sliding folding doors and a privacy screen which extends out onto the deck. Options include underfloor heating and remote controlled light dimmers. Glassbox proudly trump their eco qualities, especially their thermally wonderful glazing and passive solar gain, as well as the usual managed timber sources, recyclable materials, etc.

S.H.E.D your life

"It seems we need to S.H.E.D. That’s Julie’s acronym for Separate the treasures (What is truly worth hanging on to?), Heave the trash (What’s weighing you down?), Embrace your identity (Who are you without all your stuff?), and Drive yourself forward (Which direction connects to your genuine self?). Julie’s taken the whole “clean and declutter” out of organizing and placed it in the self-help arena (I see a speaking tour on deck). “When you’re eager to make a change in your life, but you are unsure of your new destination, you need to SHED,” she writes. It’s about purging “the physical and behavioral clutter holding you back so you can finally create real change in your life.” The words “defunct,” “obsolete” and “obligations” were bantied about, juxtoposed with “richer” and “more meaningful.”"
Chief Home Officer.

Building your own garden office is not all sweetness and light

Mary is giving an excellent, and honest, blow by blow account of building her own eco-friendly garden office. Her recent post - Slow going and chicken wire is a bitch - underlines that a good green shed is not built in a day.

Cocobello

Cocobello comes from Munich-based architects Peter Haimerl. It's a modular pavilion which you can fiddle around with to give it a second storey or extend the ground floor, ideal for flexible shedworking.
Via Judit Bellostes

Choosing a shed - Outbuilds

Swansea-based Outbuilds design and supply bespoke garden offices, fully plastered, insulated and with green roof and sheep's wool insulation possibilities. Interestingly, each shedlike atmosphere is built in their workshop, the proto-shedworker comes to give it the green light, then it is reassembled in your back garden. What's also interesting is that unlike most garden office suppliers, they charge per square-footage rather than per model.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Do women make better shedworkers than men?

That's the suggestion by Lynsey Thomas in The Guardian who argues that "the female of the species is better equipped to work from the comfort of home". Here's what she says:
"The homeworking male seems on the face of it to either thrive or be very quickly killed off. Those that make it through the first difficult weeks tend to be a success, benefiting from the relaxed environment and the ability to achieve a good work-life balance. Those that struggle are the more outgoing types. A lack of company or attention, call it what you will, leads them to become stir crazy. Trips to the local pub in search of lunchtime company can be the undoing of the male homeworker. Women are quite good at self-regulating their feelings and how they affect those around them; men tend to become self-absorbed and may not notice changes in their behaviour or work pattern."
And her overall conclusion is that a female boss best suits a male homeworker. I'd be very interested to hear what Shedworking's readers think...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Where do the most imaginative shedworkers live?

According to a new YouGov poll, shed owners in the South East of England are the most innovative when it comes to using their shedlike atmospheres.Around 9% of people from the South East said they would convert their sheds into mini gyms, one in twelve would use theirs as a creative area for hobbies, while 4% would use it as a space for practicing music. One in twenty would use it as a private space to escape for a while and 30% would use it as storage of non garden items.

The same poll revealed that shedowners aren't good at maintaining their garden sheds despite using them to store expensive equipment. The poll, commissioned by waterproofing manufacturer Marley Waterproofing, found that despite a high proportion of people keeping expensive garden tools in their sheds, as few as one in five people consider repairs a priority.
Via Shedblog

Friday, June 20, 2008

The business of shedworking - part 5

Alan Young of 1st Addition Accountancy ends his week-long series of postings with a look at Other Things To Consider:
"So, if we are running our business from a garden office or home, what else do we need to consider? For a start, most mortgage companies ask us to stipulate whether or not there is a business element to our occupation. We may need to be able to prove to them that we have separate business insurance to cover us for this.

Also, running a business from home may attract the attention of the Valuation Office Agency who will determine whether or not a property will attract business rates. Guidelines for this can be found at www.voa.gov.uk/council_tax/working_from_home.htm, however, as our house remains, substantially, a domestic residence, this is unlikely to be a major issue for us.

When running any business from home, it is important to ensure that we have adequate insurance, to cover us for all eventualities. If we use our garden office or shed simply as a base to perform our administration, then it is likely we can extend our household insurance policy to cover the additional value of equipment kept there. If, on the other hand, we meet clients there, or are considering taking on employees, then we will need to look at taking out a specific, separate business insurance. Small business ‘packages’ are currently available, which cover us for all aspects of business insurance, including public liability, employee liability, business interruption insurance etc. These packages are available from around £250 a year.

"Legislation is constantly being updated, and the only piece of advice that never changes is; always check with your accountant, when looking to claim or calculate these expenses."
Alan also runs a useful blog which is well worth a browse. Many thanks to Alan for putting these posts together - if you are in need of his expertise, you can contact him via his site and blog.

The Shedworker's Bookshelf - using natural finishes by Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce

One of the best ways of personalising your shed is to build it yourself and there's also a current trend towards constructing your own garden office building out of environmentally-friendly materials. This week's choice - using natural finishes by the friendly and knowledgeable Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce (whose company Cob in Cornwall we've featured here before) - is published by the highly regarded Green Books. It includes step-by-step instructions for applying lime-based and clay-based plasters, renders and paints, as well as exploring the benefits of natural finishes for the buildings, their owners and local suppliers.

There are plenty of case studies and of course lots of shedworking structures plus it's marvellously illustrated throughout - including photos of Katy and Adam actually doing the things they're writing about - and a sumptuous section on finishes from around the world in such spots as Japan, Morocco and Italy. In short, if you're contemplating any kind of eco-friendly build, this is an absolutely essential book to have on your bookcase (and even if you're not, it's a fascinating piece of art to meander through in your shed).

There is also an online resources and suppliers database accompanying the book at www.naturalbuildingresources.com and you can download sample pages here. Go here to buy a copy and click on the button below to go to the Green Books site where you can snap up other green building delights.
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