Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Minima Moralia: Rooftop garden office


Minima Moralia is a garden office workspace which has been designed for use on rooftops as well as back gardens. Designed by London-based architects Jonas Prišmontas and Tomaso Boano, it attempts to deal with the live-work conundrum using a steel frame and folding opening canopy. Here's what they say about it:
Mimima Moralia is a critical installation, a manifesto of social hope with no political intention. Minima Moralia offers tiny, cellular pop-up spaces to be inhabited by designers, sculptors, painters, musicians and other creatives. It is a naked minimalistic structure and comprises a structural skeleton, a roof, a floor and a translucent external skin that is able to communicate and establish a holistic relationship with its surroundings. Acting as a window into an artistic mind, the space allows a glimpse into the creative processes and the crafting abilities that take place inside. 
Exhibited earlier this year at the London Festival of Architecture on Dalston Roof Park,




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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The pros and cons of tiny houses


It has become an established way of living now in the USA, but there's increasing interest in the tiny house movement in the UK. Generally, people are pretty positive about the experience of living small, but as in all things, not everybody believes it's a great idea. Recently putting the case for it being a 'good thing' (though also in a very balanced way recognising it is not necessarily for everyone) is Nione Meakin in The Guardian ('We moved to a tiny house to get more room – and it worked'). Here's a snippet: 
Limited indoor space means more time outside and in the two allotments they have taken on across the road. “We’re far more aware of the seasons than we ever were in London and the fresh air, exercise and intimacy is making Tim and me the most content and fulfilled we’ve been in our adult lives,” says Laura. “We don’t need to earn as much as we used to, so we don’t have to spend as much time working as we used to. We have time together as a family.” 
Writer and filmmaker Chuck Wendig on his terribleminds blog is not so convinced and has written 'An open letter to tiny house hunters'. He itemises his concerns including this (my asterisks for poor language):
Fourth, your bed is going to be a claustrophobic morgue-drawer nightmare. The ceiling will be three feet above your head and that’s only if the mattress is of the same material they make diapers out of. If it is a proper mattress, your nose is probably going to be pressed against the top margins of your tiny house. Beds, actual human beds, are ******* huge. Perhaps extravagantly so, I dunno, but we have left the era where we could comfortably sleep on a pile of reeds on the hard rocky earth and now we sleep on giant mattress configurations that are basically as big as half of a tiny house. If you want to practice what it’s like sleeping in a tiny house, sleep in one of your drawers, or in the crawlspace under your existing normal-sized home.
Both pieces are well worth a read if you are thinking going down the tiny house route.
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Garden office with table football

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Container shedworking spaces plan for York


An interesting article on the always well-informed YorkMix site reveals that plans are afoot to add a shedlike 'third place' working space to Piccadilly in York. It forms part of a new 'box park' plan called Spark: York to use shipping containers for shops, cafés, performance spaces and community projects in the city centre.

The plans for 15 containers over two levels come from local entrepreneurs Tom McKenzie, Sam Leach, and Joe Gardham and would be the first of its kind in the region, with free wifi and desk space for members of the public on a drop-in basis, as well as operating as a shared workspace hub for start-ups.


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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Is your garden office earthquake-proof?


An interesting story from OPB looks at Michael Kuhn's efforts to brace his garden shed against the effects of a major earthquake. Here's a snippet:
Kuhn bought a garden shed and put it on a bed of gravel so it could roll around undamaged in an earthquake. He strengthened the walls, installed a small sleeping platform and bought mobile solar panels so he could charge a phone. He also is planning on installing plumbing for water and adding a composting toilet to his shelter
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to make a garden office wonderland


(This is a guest post by garden rooms specialists Oeco Garden Rooms)

Your garden doesn’t have to be a no go area in the winter months, in fact with a little planning and creativity you can create your own winter garden wonderland that the whole family can enjoy.

Garden Layout

Having the right garden layout from the get go is the most important thing, not only for the summer months when the flowers are in bloom but also the winter as the plants start to die off; this is where you will see the bare bones of the garden and if it is not laid out properly it can look gloomy and untidy. Wall gardens, hedges and raised flower beds are all great ways of adding structure to the garden, providing designated areas for different activities and can be repurposed for different times of the year.

Adding seasonal colours to your garden

During the summer months flowers explode in an array of bright and colourful blooms, but that doesn’t mean that your winter garden can’t be extraordinarily beautiful too!

Adding seasonal colours such as red and white will make the garden more inviting and flowers such as Hellebores are a great choice. These flowers, sometimes known as the Christmas rose are pastel pink and white in colour and produce big leaves that fill the space in the garden. They flower for a long time as well, generally lasting between late winter and early spring.

Another white flower to consider is Clematis Jingle Bells; these flowers have a bold white colour and typically flower from December to January. Clematis Jingle Bells will need some pruning to keep the size down as they can grow up to five metres high.

Fir trees are the quintessential winter wonderland accessory especially when it snows; they are evergreen and require very little maintenance, but be sure to choose a small species of fir tree as some can grow up to 80 feet tall.

For a festive touch in your garden, why not opt for a holly tree. Make sure that you get a male bush are these are the ones that produce those signature red berries. For those who do not have the space for a Holly tree, Cotoneaster horizontalis or Pyracantha are a great choice for adding a pop of colour to the garden.

The winter scent

While the inside of the house smells of cinnamon, spices and oranges to evoke the festive spirit, the garden is largely forgotten, but there are various ways of creating the sweet smell of winter in the garden with scented flowers.

Planting Witch Hazel is a great choice to add a wintery scent to the garden; its large yellow flowers release a delicious scent of liquorice into the air. Winter honeysuckle is also a good choice, producing a lemony-fresh scent.

For those who want an evergreen shrub that has little maintenance then Sarcococca is the perfect fit. Commonly known as the Christmas Box or Sweet Box, Sarcococca produces small white flowers with a lush, leathery foliage and best of all it exudes a fragrant honey scent during the winter.

Decorate your wonderland

Your winter garden wonderland wouldn’t be complete without some decoration. Fairy lights and lanterns are a great way of creating light in an outdoor space and can be hung on trees, draped over bushes or hung from outdoor structures like sheds, garden rooms and decking.

For those on a budget, there are plenty of things to do that won’t cost a lot of money including tying festive ribbons to tree branches, hanging wreaths around the garden and decorating trees with baubles and tinsel.

Build a Fire Pit

Many people give the garden a miss during the winter months because of the cold, but adding a heat source is easy and cheap and provides an outdoor space that can be used all year round. Patio heaters and chimera’s are a great way of adding heat to the garden, and building your own fire pit is a cheap way for the whole family to gather around and enjoy.

Attract Robins to your garden

If there is one bird that evokes a winter wonderland, then it’s a robin redbreast. These majestic birds are strongly associated with Christmas, taking a starring role in many festive cards since the mid-19th century. Robins will often come when other birds are around, so make sure that you put plenty of food out for all the birds. Black sunflower seeds and seed balls are great for attracting various species of birds, but be sure to avoid dried lentils as only certain birds can eat them. Robins are also fond of crushed nuts so placing some on a bird table is sure to get them knocking. ----------------------------------------------------
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Harold Nicolson's book room at Sissinghurst

 


We've looked at the various shedlike properties of Sissinghurst before on Shedworking and now there is the chance to take a look at (the admittedly unusually large 'garden office') South Cottage which has previously been largely unavailable to the general public. Owned by the National Trust, it has only just been opened up and is the atmospheric retreat where Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West read and wrote. Most of the original décor is still intact.

Harold's book room and study, where he did most of his writing, are pictured above. Usually closed to visitors, it has still been used by the Nicolson family as a place to write. The NT is also working on restoring the garden which is now closed until March, while the South Cottage (limited and restricted access) and Vita's writing tower remain open daily. More details at NT.
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Monday, November 21, 2016

Garden offices and the future of new homes


(This is a guest post by Frances Holliss, director of the Workhome Project)

In 10 years’ research I’ve found the shed to be one of the most popular ways of creating home-based workspace. It has a noble history. Writers including Virginia Woolf, Roald Dahl, Philip Pulman and JK Rowling, composers such as Grieg and Benjamin Britten, and artists including Barbara Hepworth and Damien Hirst all work(ed) in sheds.

Cheap to build and close enough to home not to need its own kettle, wi-fi or WC, the shed provides a separate realm for work for home-based workers in a wide range of occupations today, from BT manager to private investigator, journalist to curtain-maker, and sculptor to chef. Walking a few minutes down the garden path to such a ‘live-nearby’ workspace can provide the physical and mental separation from home that many home-based workers need to be effective in their jobs - the switch between domestic and employment functions.

Being able to shut the door on work at the end of the day - and not necessarily having to clear up - is also important for many people. So much better than the ‘desk-in-the-bedroom’ model, where work beckons from the bed, and vice versa. Or the ‘working-on-the-kitchen-table’ model, where boredom or getting stuck can lead to people getting distracted by the fridge, and unwanted weight gain, as well as work being disrupted by a returning household.

But popular and practical as the shed is as home-based workspace, when was the last time we saw a new housing development designed to include shed workspaces as standard? Never.

The home-based workforce is growing rapidly - the number of people working mainly from home increased by nearly 50% in the UK between 1998 and 2014. And new research shows more than 95% of UK businesses are microbusinesses employing fewer than 10 people, most of which are, or have been, run from their owner’s home. But we still do not design for it at either the urban or the building scale. We continue to design dwellings primarily as commodities for investment and exchange - increasingly as stacked apartments - rather than as places in which real people live their lives.

This is a huge issue. If you’re interested you can read more on my website www.theworkhome.com or in my book ‘Beyond Live/Work: the architecture of home-based work’ reviewed here on Shedworking. And do get in touch with your experience - I really like to hear from shedworkers of all sorts: f.holliss@londonmet.ac.uk.    --------------------------------------------------------------------
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Long commutes up by a third


 Shedworkers who enjoy a 30 second commute will be interested to hear that the number of employees with daily commutes of two hours or more has shot up by nearly a third over the past five years, according to new analysis published today by the TUC to mark Work Wise UK’s Commute Smart Week.

The analysis shows that in 2015 3.7 million workers had daily commutes of two hours or longer – an increase of 900,000 since 2010 (2.8 million). In 2015 one in seven UK employees (14%) travelled two hours or more each day to and from work, compared to one in nine in 2010 (11%).

UK workers spent 10 hours extra, on average, commuting in 2015 than they did in 2010. This is the equivalent of an extra 2.7 minutes per day. Men still account for the majority (61%) of those who make work journeys of two hours or more. However, women (+35%) have experienced a sharper rise in long commuting since 2010 than men (+29%).
 
Workers in Northern Ireland (+57%) have experienced the biggest rise in long commuting, followed by the South East (+37%) and the West Midlands (+27%). London (930,000) has the highest number of employees who make long commutes, followed by the South East (623,000) and the East of England (409,000).
 The TUC believes the increase in travelling times may be explained by:
  • stagnant wages combined with soaring rents and high house prices leaving many workers unable to move to areas closer to their jobs;
  • the lack of investment in roads and railways increasing journey times. The UK is bottom of an OECD league table on transport infrastructure spending.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “None of us like spending ages getting to and from work. Long commutes eat into our family time and can be bad for our working lives too. Employers cannot turn a blind eye to this problem. More home and flexible-working would allow people to cut their commutes and save money.”

Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said: “Long commutes have become a part of the UK’s working culture. The excessive time spent commuting is one of the main factors contributing to work-life balance problems. Not only is the amount of time commuting an issue, the 9 to 5 culture with its peak travel times generates congestion on railways, underground and road networks and as a consequence, increases stress for commuters." --------------------------------------------------------
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chelsea Flower Show 2017 preview


It's that time of the year again when garden designers slowly uncover their plans for next year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. Early indications are that it could be a good year for shedlike structures. Above is the Cat's Co Ltd: Gosho No Niwa garden (Designed by Kazuyuki Ishihar, built by Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory Co Lt, sponsored by Cat's Co Ltd) which takes as its inspiration the Kyoto residence of Japanese emperors.

Below is the World Horse Welfare Garden (designed by Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith, built by Conway Landscapes, sponsored by World Horse Welfare) which features an abandoned, derelict stable.


There is a bit of a Japanese theme to this year's entry. This is the Hagakure – Hidden Leaves garden (designed by Shuko Nod, built by Hanamizuki Corporatio, sponsored by Nishikyushu University). Here's what the designers say about it:
The garden is a sacred and peaceful space away from the noise and stress of daily life, a place where friends and family can spend time together. People can sit on a tatami mattress bench under the shade created by the tree, which bears delicate white flowers.


And finally, The Seedlip Garden (designed by Dr Catherine MacDonald, built by Landform Consultants, sponsored by Seedlip) which looks at the history of distillation. It includes oak housing, laboratory-style benches, and copper pipework.


No images are yet available of The Morgan Stanley Garden but it looks like one to keep an eye on. Focusing on children's health and education, it will include what's describe as a "dramatic, geometric oak performance pavilion". Designer Chris Beardshaw is working with the National Youth Orchestra to help fashion its final feel. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Young people prefer shedworking to pension perks


Young adults would rather work flexibly, than prioritise a pension, according to new research from Fidelity International.

With the rise of shedworking and flexible, mobile and remote working, the under 35s generation say they would rather choose where and when they work than save into a company pension scheme. When asked to choose their top three perks, just over half (53%) of young adults want a job which allows flexible working, such as in a garden office, closely followed by a generous number of days off (46%), and a bonus (37%). All these benefits trump the pension with just one in three (29%) interested in what contributions their boss will make.

On the flip side, nearly two times as many workers aged over 55 say pension benefits are one of their top three job perks.

Overall, men value pensions more than women with the workplace benefit coming third for women (40%) and second for men (48%). However, flexible working scores highest for women (57%) while for men this benefit comes in third with annual leave topping the list of priorities.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Frederick Douglass: The Growlery


Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in the early 19th century, escaped, and became one of the leading abolitionist campaigners. At his home, he wrote in what he called his 'growlery', a term invented by Charles Dickens in Bleak House for a kind of shedlike spot in which men could retreat from the world when they were feeling down in the dumps. Douglass's was a small stone cabin (it had a fireplace, a desk, a stool and a daybed) in his garden at his house Cedar Hill, Southeast Washington DC, where he wrote and read - it was filled with books. Sadly, it is no longer with us, but happily the National Park Service has erected a reconstructed version which you can visit.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Solar dome school shedworking


Not only does Westgarth Primary School near Redcar have special reading huts, its pupils also have the chance to work inside a special 8m glass solar dome from Solardome. The school spent three years raising funds for the build and it is obviously well worth all that effort, used now for science, drama, music, school clubs and many other activities.

“It is a real focal point of the school," says headteacher Neil Burton. "Everyone who goes out there says ‘wow’, especially as the rest of the school building is 1960s style. What has been achieved is a wonderful and special place that the children and teachers love being in. It is a really valuable resource.”
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Friday, November 11, 2016

Camera Lucida




A lovely art studio in Austria by Christian Tonko which has outside screens to block direct sun if it's unwanted and a series of frames from which the owner can hang bronze sculptures. It's a split-level build, the top floor used for sketching and watercolour painting the ground floor for bigger canvases and sculpture. The outside panels are made from weathering steel and inside there is a lot of raw concrete, raw steel and untreated oak.

Here's what the architects say about it:
"On an underlying conceptual level the design is inspired by an ancient optical device - the camera lucida. On the one hand it is very literally a bright chamber - constructed to achieve good light conditions which can be modulated to desired levels. At the same time the studio itself acts as an optical framing device similar to the original function of the camera lucida as a drawing aid."
Photos by Eduard Hueber (lots more at the Christian Tenko site here). --------------------------------------------------------
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Spacehop: Third place shedworking


An interesting shedworking trend for 2016 is the growing interest in renting garden office and other types of homeworking spaces. Vrumi is up and running and now there is Spacehop which is offering freelancers, startups and frankly anybody else who needs it the chance to book affordable home office space - including for coworking - around the UK and especially in London.

For example, the garden office top is in Norwich and the one below is near Chichester.


Here's a typical spec, this one for a 'spacious converted outbuilding overlooking gardenSlip End, Luton' (not far from Shedworking HQ).
"A converted outbuilding providing a unique private, quiet and secluded working environment overlooking a sheltered garden. Wifi and wired RJ45 internet access, fridge with tea and coffee making facilities, plenty of desk space, 50" TV with access to full Sky package including Sky Sports. 122sq feet. the building is electrically heated for winter use (there's a wood burner stove if you prefer) and in the summer there is access to the patio for al fresco working. Ideal for study or for those who want to get away from the crowds to work but stay connected to the 21st century"
And it's only £12 a day which is fantastic value. Well worth investigating whether you're a sole trader or part of a bigger team as most of the 'hops' are big enough to accommodate more than one person.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

How to build a garden office in three days


A nice timelapse showing how Green Retreats put together a garden office for Rich Owen. It's about 10 minutes but well worth a watch if you wondering about investing in a shoffice and what it all entails. ----------------------------------------------------
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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Mellor Primary School treehouse extension


Probably the most popular winner in the recent Structural Timber Awards 2016 was in the Best Education Project category where Sarah Wigglesworth Architects won for their treehouse work at  Mellor Primary School, near Stockport (it also triumphed as the Judges Choice overall winning scheme). According to the judges it was: “An excellent scheme with an honest simple structure but importantly uses the structure as a learning resource.”

It's certainly a great educational shedworking space with new areas featuring pitched roofs on a deck which extends out into the surrounding area. The extension includes a new classroom, SEN room, a new library and an extension to the hall. Here's what the architects say about it:
"The design is constructed of natural materials such as timber shakes and straw bale insulation as well as reclaimed materials, for example tyres used within the landscape to form stepping stones. The design incorporates a 'habitat wall' on the east elevation. This is made up of a range of reclaimed materials and is designed to promote biodiversity by providing planting pockets, nesting boxes and bug habitats. The below deck area is screened by a trellis which is planted with native species. Rainwater is collected and used for irrigation. Water saving fittings and low energy light fittings are standard."




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Friday, November 04, 2016

New garden office

A photo posted by Sam (@stamanfar) on
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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Fire station shed

Engine House - Pub/Entertainment from Garden #shedoftheyear ----------------------------------------------------
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