Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Romantic homeworking

A nice little piece by Andy Borowitz in The Huffington Post who points out that working at home (and indeed a garden office) greatly reduces the opportunities for office romance. As he points out: "When you're your own boss, you have no one to sexually harass but yourself."
"After using the bathroom one morning, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and, almost without thinking, I uttered these two fateful words: "Looking good." When I got back to my desk, I was rattled. Perhaps my comment to myself in the bathroom had merely been friendly, but a part of me felt that it was inappropriate. And that come-hither expression on my face was unmistakable: I had seen it many times before, most notably on my Match.com profile. No, there could be little doubt: I was my own boss, and I was hitting on myself."

Sorry Boris, flexible working on the up

Despite Boris Johnson's fine words below, Tomorrow’s Leaders, a new study commissioned by City & Guilds and the Institute of Leadership and Management, reveals that 73 per cent of managers have flexible working in their organisation. “The study also highlighted the main obstacle to the wider adoption of smarter working practices generally,” said Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK, the national campaign backed by the TUC, CBI and British Chambers of Commerce to promote smarter working. “The culture of ‘presenteeism’ where management require staff and employees to be at the place of work to be considered working, is an anachronism from the 19th century – it is completely the wrong approach in today’s modern working environment. To overcome this, managers need to have access to more up-to-date training.

“The introduction of smarter working practices is inevitable as the UK strives to meet the competitive challenges from the Far East. The study reported that three-quarters of respondents believed workers that worked flexibly were more productive. This reinforces findings issued by BT earlier this year that reported a 20 per cent increase in productivity when smarter working practices were introduced.”

Boris Johnson: homeworking a euphemism for sloth

Boris Johnson won't make any friends in the homeworking and shedworking communities with his latest foot/mouth pronouncement. Writing on his own web site, he asks why people insist on commuting to work despite the many obvious inconveniences. Among the choice quotes are:
"Working from home is simply a euphemism for sloth, apathy, staring out of the window and random surfing of the internet: and that is why it is so imperative that we get the transport system of this country moving. What with all those trips to the kettle and the television, and keeping the central heating on, I am not even sure that staying at home is the eco-friendly option."

He also claims that: "The office is the natural habitat of Homo sapiens. It is the place we like to go during the day, just as baboons choose to congregate on some special kop or crag." His argument is that the office is vital because we go there "to groom and to socialise. We find that we need the tension and the jokes, not to mention the acrimony and the rivalry and the tears, and frankly no amount of electronic interchange is a substitute for that ability to gossip and plot."
Here he is again on homeworking.
"Instead of crashing into the shower and getting on with the day, you find that you linger, unshaven, for too long over the newspapers; and you find yourself so sunk in consequent gloom that you decide to fortify yourself with another cup of coffee, and a quick squint at BBC News 24, and then you conclude that you really must hit the desk. And as you drift towards your workstation, your eye is caught by some title in your bookshelf and you settle down to read and - bang - by the time you look up, the morning has gone. Deprived of that vital stimulus of competition, your mental flywheel is hardly turning, and why should it? There is no one to impress, no one to intrigue against, no one to worry about; and that is the real problem with working from home."

It's worth reading the whole thing. He's completely wrong, but he writes entertainingly. Incidentally, his name is actually Alex Johnson.

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - Plankbridge

Dorset-based Plankbridge restore and recreate traditional shepherds' huts for 21st century uses such as a garden office or artist's studio. The huts are built by Richard Lee and Jane Dennison using locally sourced materials including Douglas Fir for the chassis and frame. Naturally there is traditional corrugated iron cladding (galvanised, etched, red oxide primed and metalastic painted in mid Brunswick green),tongue and groove internal lining with 100mm mineral wool insulation, solid French oak floor, and hand forged ironmongery with reproduction cast iron wheels to original patterns made in Dorset. The standard model measures (internally)1.84m width, by 3.5m length and is 2.3m high. Optional extras include bunk beds, solar panel light system and handmade woodburner. Plankbridge also build and convert other structures for use as a garden office including the conversion of an old Somerset and Dorset railway goods wagon. There are some great photos on the site, including an excellent case study, plus interesting information about the natural habitat of the area.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mushroom house vs shed

An interesting question raised by a reader of the Sunday Telegraph who has a 'mushroom house' in his back garden - it's stone, under a grass bank and rather damp. Should it stay or should it go? David Snell, contributing editor at the interesting Homebuilding & Renovating magazine and author of Building Your Own Home, gives a couple of suggestions but then asks: "Is it worth it? You could probably buy or build overground sheds or outhouses for a fraction of the cost." While normally I'd endorse any shedroute, it does seem a shame to lose a mushroom house.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chris Routledge - a shedworking story

Chris Routledge is a confirmed shedworker and his shed appears in the seminal early article on shedworking on the BBC web site by Giles Wilson, Shed Heaven. His shed is pictured above (and the Nevada inspiration for it is at the end of this post). Chris very kindly agreed to write a guest post for Shedworking which I'm delighted to publish below. You can read more about him at his web site here.
"I built my shed in 2003 after a visit to the Alternative Energy Centre in mid-Wales. Before then I was thinking about buying a basic 'off the peg' summer house and customising it with insulation and proper roof materials. But our visit to the AEC, which has buildings on display to show how they are made, inspired me to do it myself. I'd put up shelves before, so how hard could it be?

"Actually it was a challenge but it wasn't that hard. My wife and I were editing a book about the philosophy of language at the time, so my brain was locked into two very different kinds of project and they tended to leak over into one another. My wife, who is also a writer and who also works in the shed, summed up my attitude rather well. While I was preparing to construct the roof our neighbour came over to take a look. I was up there on top of the frame hammering away and he asked her if I had someone lined up to build the roof sections. She looked at him and asked 'Does he look like a man who is about to order something ready made?'

"I took some guidance from David Stiles' excellent book Sheds, but the design is basically my own. I took the 'post and beam' approach that is common with American wooden houses, though in my case the posts are bricks, and tried to make it look at least a little like the small wooden structures you see in towns in the American West. The one-room shacks where miners and farmers lived in the nineteenth century.

"The actual building was a lot of fun and a real challenge. As a place of work it needed to be warm and dry and connected to the outside world, but it also had to be a pleasant environment. In the winter our part of Lancashire can be very bleak and dark so I added big triangular windows in the gable ends to bring lots of light in. In the summer our garden is crammed with wild flowers, so although it's a small space it is a bit like working in the middle of a meadow. The commute is lovely.

"The great practical advantage of working in the shed over working in the back bedroom is of course that you are out of the house, away from distractions and callers. I love the incongruity of talking on the phone in the shed with people who are sitting in shiny high-rise offices in more glamourous parts of the world, but I am also finding that I now connect specific pieces of work with the place they were written. I've just finished writing my first book (Cains: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint) written entirely in the shed and in my head it is very definitely a 'shed book'. There is something very elemental about sitting and working under a roof you put up there yourself."

Garden buildings

An all-encompassing article about sheds - including garden offices - in the Telegraph which is fast becoming a must-read for shedworkers. The piece says:
"An outbuilding could be the answer to all your space issues. If you need somewhere to put your garden tools, take a sauna or park your mother-in-law, a log cabin could fit the bill. A summerhouse will provide a new perspective on your garden, while creating an office or studio away from the hubbub of the house suits home-workers. There is a huge range of ready-made outbuildings on the market and you can choose between traditional and more contemporary designs, colours and materials."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Eye Candy - British seaside holiday cabins

In a desperate bid to overcome the stinky weather this 'summer', there are some lovely pictures from the seaside by Jane McDevitt, a web site designer based in York, of British seaside holiday cabins on flickr here.

Shedworking/living video

A great video of Dee Williams who lives in a home on wheels measuring 84 square feet in Portland built from salvaged material to a Tumbleweed Tiny Home design.Click here to katu.com to reach the page.
Via Treehugger.

The Souk

Sylvia Petter is an Australian writer living in Austria (her web site is here and her blog is here). And she is a keen shedworker, although she calls her rather monumental garden office a 'souk'. "I don’t know if my souk counts as a shed," she writes, "but it used to be a stable back in the early 1900s. When we came to see the house we eventually bought three years ago in Vienna, I didn’t have high hopes for the “outhouse” that was mentioned in the ad. But when I saw the little pink house across a cemented courtyard, I just knew this was to be my souk. In fact, it was that little house in the back that clinched the deal, which came with huge garden gnomes that now stand at the door, one even has a book in his hands.

"We had the cement courtyard taken out and I started a garden that is now starting to come along. The previous owner had started renovating my souk – putting in electricity and water, and new windows. But the little house had no real foundation so we’ve had all the electrical work put up higher. I’m about to be tiling up to the windows so that it stays dry. We had a new roof put on since before there was only a way for a chook to clamber up. And so we had a stairway put in and upstairs I have a place to relax from my writing mess and can sit back and read. Downstairs, next to my office there is a loo and a washbasin now. I call it my souk, because it’s always in a mess, but there’s a certain organic disorder that I thrive on."

For sale - (another) antique summerhouse

To finish what has become an unofficial summerhouse week here at Shedworking, reader Peter Moorcroft is selling his lovely Henry and Julius Caesar summerhouse. You can see the listing on Salvo here or email him directly here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Design a shed competition - entries flooding in

The entries in the Line of Site's design a shed competition keep on coming. Here's Ragu Sittambalam's intriguing design and here's what he says about it:
"The shed aims to allow the user to perform tasks in a different environment to that of which they are accustomed, the difference being their proximity to the natural environment. By creating a self reliant unit, the ‘shed’ can become a place within its own right."

It measures 3.5 x 1.2m with a height of 2m which can be altered by raising the shed so that additional storage space underneath is available. Two photo voltaic panels on the roof power lighting and electrical appliances. The large wooden shutters can be closed to help blend into the surrounding natural environment.

For sale - antique summerhouse

In line with this week's summerhouse theme, here is an hexagonal summer house, described by the owner as "probably manufactured" by famous summerhousemakers Henry and Julius Caesar, with matching table and stained glass panels. More details here.

Roundup of homeworking surveys

Living IT has a good roundup of some recent homeworking surveys, commenting that:
"Many of the UK’s small businesses are still holding back from adopting remote working and more environmentally-friendly policies because they are stuck in their ways. As a result, they are not benefiting from the increased flexibility and responsiveness that mobile and home working can provide. Nor are they reaping the rewards of energy-saving and reduced costs that are delivered by the latest ‘green’ PCs and consolidated or virtualized servers and storage solutions."

Survey 1 - 30 per cent of workers say their business’s culture is preventing remote working practices being brought in and 25 per cent believe that it is slowing down the adoption of green initiatives. (Interwise)
Survey 2 - while 74 per cent of firms said flexible working had a positive impact, only 30 per cent actually put it into practice. (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)
Survey 3 - employees felt that 37 per cent of face-to-face meetings they are asked to attend were unnecessary and counter-productive. (WebEx)

Metroshed offer

Metroshed are offering four of their models at a special discount rate to potential garden office users in the US (to make room for a larger project). Normally each one would cost $10,318 but the offer brings that down to $6,995 (plus $440 shipping charge). To download a pdf order form click here, then cross out the information and write 'E.MAIL PROMO METROSHED' and fax back to: 310-564-2033.

Television looking for sheds/garden offices

Sonal Patel is currently working at ITV on a light entertainment show about people who like to spend time in their garden sheds, have modified them in some way, drive their partners mad because of all the time they spend in them, etc. The show is looking for people to chat to. If this sounds like fun to you, then email Sonalby clicking here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


A great article in The Guardian today by Nick Rosen extolling the virtues of off-grid living, first cousin to shedworking. He estimates that 75,000 people in the UK are living in 25,000 off-grid homes including 'benders', shelters made from saplings bent into a lattice frame which support a canvas roof and walls (for more on this, see our post on growing your garden office here). Rosen says there were 10,000 of these recorded in 1815 and are now making a comeback. "The rest of us can learn from these ecological footsoldiers about how to live low-energy, low-impact, low-carbon lives," he writes.
"Perhaps the nation's off-grid housing stock can be classed as an investment in a carbon-free future. Every off-gridder automatically reduces their energy and water consumption by up to 90% compared with a typical household. They live each day aware of the sun and the wind - dependent on the elements, and so closer to them."

He adds that off-grid living could help the government meet two of its main aims - more affordable homes and lower domestic carbon consumption - but that this would require a major change in planning laws. Well worth a read.

For more on the subject go to the excellent off-grid. Rosen has a book out, How to live off-grid, published by Doubleday.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thatched summerhouseworking

In a desperate bid to encourage a bit of summer, here is a lovely summer house from Architectural Heritage whose Thatched Edwardian Summer House is a faithful copy of an Edwardian original built by Henry & Julius Caesar (rustic house builders to the King), of Knutsford, Cheshire, as mentioned earlier in the week. The original design dates back to around 1910. It's hand built from English oak with reclaimed oak plank flooring, boasts an interior lined in herringbone pine with built-in banquet seating to the rear and side. The leaded glass windows contain hand blown bullion glass, while the windows to the front elevation are decorated with handpainted wild flowers, songbirds, frogs, ears of corn and harvest mice. The fire retardant wheat straw roof is constructed by a local Master Thatcher and the rustic oak plank exterior will weather down to a pleasing silver grey over time. It stands 12' 9" by 10' 6" wide.

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - The Shepherds Hut Company

Steve and Mary Blakemore run The Shepherds Hut Company in Masterton, Wairapa, New Zealand. Their timber frame huts are built on a rugged chassis with cast iron wheels and naturally a curved roof. Happily, the company uses eco-friendly products including Resene Environmental Choice paints and Insulwool insulation. Although sizes are similar (3.7m length, 2.8m width, 3m height), there are various models from the basic The Duck Hunters Hut up to the Artists Studio model (pictured below) which has side French doors, solid tongue and groove wooden flooring, and natural macrocarpa panelling and beams. It is fully insulated and ply and batten clad. And of course there is a bespoke option.

This is how the Blakemores describe the space inside:
"Surprisingly roomy, the huts can fit bunks, two singles, or a queen size bed leaving adequate room for a chair and dressing table. Custom built bunks, foldaway beds and furniture can be installed to maximise space."

All huts have lovely Giovanni stoves with a top plate large enough to boil a kettle and a glass door for extra added cosiness.There's also a nice history section and a great photo gallery on the attractively understated site. Well worth a browse.

Year of the Shed says the Telegraph

Elspeth Thompson writing in the Telegraph describes 2007 as the "Year of the Shed", ahead even of the sustainability theme at this year's RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower shows. She does a runthrough of the main shedlike structures on display at the shows' show gardens but since it's Shepherd's Hut Tuesday, let's concentrate on what she says about today's topic.
"And who could forget the charming corrugated iron shepherd's hut in the Daily Mail Darling Buds of May pavilion? I first saw a shepherd's hut used as a shed at Sticky Wicket, Pam Lewis's beautiful garden near Dorchester, Dorset, and have hankered after one ever since, so it was sobering to learn that restored huts can fetch upwards of £5,000 and reproduction ones even more (The Shepherd's Hut Company)."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Design a shed competition - more entries

Here's one of the latest entries in the Line of Site's design a shed competition which we've covered frantically here in recent weeks. I'm not sure I have truly come to grips with Wassif Adel Gairgis's concept but it definitely looks like fun.

Shed and Shelter

Shed and Shelter is a great site providing links to plenty of shedlike atmospheres around the world, some reasonably conventional, others spectacularly unconventional. All are designed in some way to provide shelter for people (and not let the rain in, the two key elements to any shedlike atmosphere). You can easily get lost here for ages. Well worth a browse.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Get better with a revolving summerhouse

Summerhouses are marvellous places for a little light shedworking and The Times has a great piece by Katrina Burroughs on their history, from the estate-built buildings of the 19th century and into the 20th century when the likes of Henry & Julius Caesar and Boulton & Paul were the kings of the summerhouse industry (today one of their models could set you back up to £10,000). Burroughs writes:
"In the 1920s, Boulton & Paul, another Norwich firm, began making revolving summerhouses, designed to turn to catch the sun as it moved overhead. These soon became the must-have shelter for the smart garden. Based on Alpine chalets in Swiss tuberculosis sanitoriums, with large windows and paintwork in seaside hues, these “sunshine rooms” are still the model for many designs."

For more on this medicinal history of summerhouses, there's a splendid article, What Tuberculosis did for Modernism: The Influence of a Curative Environment on Modernist Design and Architecture by Margaret Campbell which you can read here.

Like the sturdier garden office, there is a huge range out there and indeed some garden office suppliers also offer summerhouse models. Among those namechecked are some familiar usual suspects (Crane, Lugarde, Garden Affairs, Scotts of Thrapston, Homebase) but also some other specialists including:
* Tina Pasco
* Underwoodsman
* Source
* Winchcombe Reclamation
* The Designer Box

In fact it's a lovely summerhouse available from Designer Box which illustrates this post, the octagonal Garden Pavilion with Quilt by Win Green. It's made entirely from cotton over a light aluminium frame with detachable cotton voile curtains embroidered with dragonflies. It comes with matching appliquéd floor quilt with pastel green gingham strips and appliquéd centre flower detail. Naturally, it packs away nicely in its own storage bag. And it's machine washable. £290 with a diameter of 160cm and height of 157cm. Go on, treat yourself. It can't rain forever.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Choosing a shed - The Orb

The Orb is one of the most spectacular and innovative garden offices I've ever seen, a lightweight oval structure with a lovely retro twist produced using boatbuilding techniques ("The totality of the body, chassis and legs gives the orb a structural strength more akin to a yacht than a garden office," they say). With four adjustable legs - great for uneven ground - and a minimal foundation requirement, The Orb can be moved around your garden easily on a whim and taken with you if you move house. According to the makers the oval shell allows the heating and air handling to be very energy efficient with very little heating input. It's available in one size, 4m x 3m.

Orbs comes with all the usual musts such as full electrics and double-glazed doors with optional extras including solar panels and underfloor heating. Walls are 40mm thick and built from a sandwich of GRP materials - making it as strong as a boat! All locks conform to BS 3621.

The Orb - which is also being marketed as a holiday home and for corporate events - is the brainchild of designer Philip Simpson who says he was looking for something unlike a box or classic caravan but that would enhance the shedworker's appreciation of the outdoors. His initial inspirations were in fact gypsy caravans and yachts. Simpson knows what he is talking about - he is responsible for the Earth Gallery at the Natural History Museum in London and the Peace Museum at Ypres in Belgium. It was put together with architect David Miller who designed the Media Centre at Lords' Cricket Ground. They say that:
"Our target consumer segment is the design and brand conscious, 20- to 40-something market, most likely urban professionals with a need for more space - whether in their own back gardens or on a rural hilltop."

Well spotted Lloyd Alter at Treehugger.

Portable tentworking

If you want to do a little light shedworking, how about this hexagonal gazebo from Woolworths? It has four covered sides, two more with zips, and is rainproof, sturdy and easy to assemble. Each panel measures 2m x 2m x 2m with a diameter of 4m. Best of all they've slashed the price from £39.99 to £29.99.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Design a shed competition - latest entries

The marvellous Line of Site competition which closes for entries on August 3 The Shed Brief continues to attract some very tempting shedworking designs as we posted about earlier this week. I'm much taken with the simplicity of Dave Harland's Garden Retreat and Store which is essentially two plywood cubes - in one you keep all your traditional shed goodies while the other can be turned into a garden office thanks to sliding planes.

But below is my favourite so far. It's Alex Jones' Shed The Stereotype, inspired by luxury motorhomes but designed very much as a garden office shedworking pod with some considerable niceness thrown in (integrated entertainment system, laptop docking pad with trickle charge from optional solar panels, low power LED lighting).

The pod has enough space for two to work in fairly comfortably but - and here's the twist - you can extend the shed sideways to add extra room which is divided from the original section by a sliding entrance door. There's a retractable louvered roof and the whole thing is built from lightweight GRP fibreglass. As Alex says, not a single piece of timber in sight.

I can't think of a better way than this picture of converting the commuting masses to a shedworking lifestyle.

Shedworking in The Times today

Lucia Adams, Property Editor at The Times, gives Shedworking a nice mention in her roundup of Home on the web - Best sites and shed sites calling us "the thinking sheddie’s blog" and also highlighting our growing Garden Office group for shedworkers on Facebook. Her five great sites also include, naturally, readersheds.co.uk and the marvellous motorised shed. She also asks readers if they have a shed worth showing off. If so, you can email your pictures to gardens@timesonline.co.uk

Harry Potter shedworking atmosphere

Shedworking is not above a bit of bandwaggoning and so here is the best we can come up with in terms of a link to Harry Potter - it's Hagrid's Cabin, a single room live/work timber building with open larder and period furnishings including cooking cauldron.Elsewhere, the Weasley family have a shed full of Muggle bits and pieces, sometimes used as a garage for their Ford Anglia, and a genuine shedworking atmosphere in their old stone outhouse where they keep their brooms.

Via the spectacularly detailed The Harry Potter Lexicon and Shedblog

Friday Eye Candy - Hut Architecture

Up and coming practice Hut Architecture (not to be confused with the equally attractive Hut Garden Offices) set up by Andy Whiting and Scott Batty five years ago are already big hitters in the world of design, with interesting furniture, interactive installations, travelling exhibitions, and events as well as buildings under their belt. And this is why - their compact 'Hut-on-a-roof' is a marvellous timber shedworking atmosphere on a Clerkenwell rooftop where you can live/work and pretend you're in Mary Poppins at the same time. Nice touches include a sliding glass roof, solar panels, wood-burning stove and sheep’s wool insulation. This is how they describe their inspiration:
"The building takes ideas from both hide-away tree houses and the suburban garden shed, providing nothing more or less than is required for an urban sanctuary."

As a follow-up to the roof shed, Hut Architecture are now looking at producing similar shedlike buildings for shedworkers. More details here and here. There's also an interesting article and interview with Hut at BD Online.

Thanks to shed champion Justin at materialicious for this one.

Shedworking myths

If you're a shedworker or indeed any kind of homeworker, you'll be pretty tired of hearing the same old clichés coming out all the time. Web Worker Daily has a nice concise rebuttal of the usual suspects (working naked, not really working, spending more time with kids, being lonely) here. It's well worth taking a look. My favourite is this:
"5. You must be involved in some kind of bleeding edge technology work to be able to work from home. In reality, home-based workers are doing all kinds of old fashioned jobs (writing, radiology) as well as the more groovy Web 2.0-type stuff. There’s no telling what kind of job you might could do remotely, if you put your mind to figuring out how it can be done."

MIcrosoft Home Office Makeover semifinalists

The semi-finalists have now been announced in this competition. You can vote online and it's also worth going to the site to have a nose around other people's home office set-ups which include video footage.

Garden office suppliers in the US

A great post at prefabcosm for anybody in the US looking for specialists in modular building, whether that be for building your own home or a garden office/shed. Click here to go to the National Association of Home Builders' site which has organised the directory. This is how they describe it:
"Use this directory to locate modular manufacturers across the country that can deliver your new home! Most modular manufacturers have local or regional representation or a network of builders to put the finishing touches on your dream home."

Shedworking requires a tidy mind

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Thanks to Sarah Salway for alerting me to this wonderful site. Well worth a browse.

How did you find Shedworking?

The stats counter reveals how people found this site and it always makes interesting reading. This morning for example people reached here searching for the following:
thinking outside smart gardener's workshop
gutter shed nightmare
shed insulation
national siesta day
petit cabanon corbusier study
tiny houses
le corbusier cabin
shedworking the times
hermits who want to live at sea on ships for seclusion
prefabricated transportable igloo

My favourites are, of course, the final two.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shed or dwelling house?

The BBC reports on Stephen Grendon who has been living in a woodland shelter on Brimpsfield Common in the Cotswolds for more than 11 years. A High Court judge has now ruled that his home - a stone-built home named Hermit's Corner measuring 4.25m by 5.8m - was not a "dwelling house" according to law and that he must leave. The to-ing and fro-ing with planners has been going on since 2004 and now Mr Grendon must submit a planning application. Earlier this week, the court was told how Mr Grendon valued "the simplicity of his unconventional lifestyle" and liked "the peace and quiet" of his home. However, Mr Justice McCombe ruled that it "simply did not have the physical attributes of a dwelling house, even with the claimant's modest requirements". The building has main electricity but no running water, bathroom or lavatory. However, Mr Grendon's solicitor Sharon Baxter said the judgement: "seems to give too much emphasis to the physical attributes of the building and too little, we say, to its actual use."

The Shedblog mentioned a similar case earlier this week in which the owners of a "Hobbit-style wood and earth home" are battling to save their ecologically friendly, solar-powered Round House at Brithdir Mawr near Newport, Pembrokeshire, from demolition.

m-house: it's a caravan...

Reopening the discussion on what constitutes a caravan (see here for more), here is the m-house (pronounced 'mouse') which can be used either as a home or for shedworking. Architecturally it's got the thumbs up from the likes of Jonathan Glancey and Hugh Pearman who has written an excellent article about m-House on his web site here. It's an impressive spec with an aluminium roof, full insulation, solar panels, underfloor heating and, my personal favourite, a big double-ended steel bath with a view out of the window: you can see how it looks on site in your garden or even on your roof by clicking here. But the beauty of m-house, which is designed by Tim Pyne, is that it's legally a caravan/trailer which eases the planning permission problem and the site has a good section on planning law.

For sale - Edgecliff, New South Wales

If you fancy a move to New South Wales, why not consider 56 Thorne Street in Edgecliff? It has a two storey facade with verandah entry, living room, fireplace; dine-in kitchen; additional upstairs sitting room, attic store; two bedrooms, main with balcony; bathroom, sep wc; high ceilings. But best of all it has a "charming but neglected northerly garden, a blank canvas to create your own parkside oasis." Which boils down to a rare wraparound garden with Garden studio, 6. 8m frontage, pictured (you can just about make it out). More details here. POA.

University shedworking course

The University of Nottingham is to launch an MSc in Workplace Health which will look at new ways of working including homeworking, flexible working and, we assume, shedworking. Click here for more information from the University site.

Grupo Repol garden office

According to Chris Smith writing at PRW.com (Daily polymer industry news brought to you by European Plastics News and Plastics & Rubber Weekly magazines), Spanish compounding group Grupo Repol are wisely going down the shedworking route. Smith writes that they will soon have a lovely new HQ in Castellon’s Cami Fondo industrial zone, chosen via a national architectural design competition run with the Castellon Institute of Architects (CTAC). The winning design by Alberto Sanchez Lopez and Aina Salva Tejedor, pictured, moves the offices from the front to the roof to give a feeling of a garden office in open green space. Nearby buildings will be hidden from view so those working in the shedlike atmosphere, will have views only of the sky (and, er, the production area below.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A nice cup of...

You'll have to click here to find out.

Shed design competition - early entries

We posted about the Line of Site's excellent competition to design a shed last month and entries are now coming in. Among them is Konstantin Kutyavin's submission, pictured above.

I also like the look of David Falconer's Criss Cross Shed, below, inspired by a magazine holder using recycled materials including egg boxes for insulation. Timbers would be treated with 3 coats of sadolin external clear varnish and the roof is finished with a torched sarking felt to waterproof.

And this, below, is also an intriguing shedworking atmosphere, from Leigh Brooks of Brooks & Ware Architects LLP. It has a fixed curved rear wall, revolving glazed door, and a revolving outer shell which can be rotated depending on whether you want to be alone or enjoy the views. The mosaic tiled outer shell can be shut totally and when shut, the whole thing nestles nicely into its surroundings. I think this would be a very popular garden office were it to be produced commercially.

Shedworking makes for happy families

The RAC Foundation blog asks the pertinent question, are long commutes eroding our social networks? To which of course the answer is yes. Fiona Coyne points out that The Corporation for National and Community Service in the US is particularly worried about "the decline in community cohesiveness in US cities" and says:
"This emerging trend is part and parcel of commuter neighbourhoods where residents travel long distances to their workplace spending relatively short amounts of time at home and - even more so- out and about interacting with their local community."

She also mentions the recent results from The Children’s Society inquiry which shows how long working days away from the home are putting family life "under threat" with children becoming lonely. The solution, of course, is that more people should be shedworking.

Helvetica - the film of the typeface

This site is written largely in Trebuchet, but most of the world is written largely in Helvetica. If you are a big fan of the typeface, there is a new film just out - Helvetica - which looks at how Helvetica conquered the world, 50 years after it was born. This is how the filmmakers describe the documentary:
"The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type. 'Helvetica' encompasses the worlds of design, advertising, psychology, and communication, and invites us to take a second look at the thousands of words we see every day."

Helvetica the typeface was developed by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

In Praise of Sheds - The Garden Station

A lovely packet arrived in the post this morning from Margot and Brian Waters containing prints of some of the works in the In Praise of Sheds exhibition at The Garden Station this summer which we posted about here and here. Invidious though it is to pick favourites, I particularly like Margot's fabric collage/machine embroidery works depicting allotment sheds which I shall be hanging in my own garden office/shed, and this Still Life in Shed, pictured, by Paddy Killer, Indian Ink drawing on silk. If you're in the area, please do go along and enjoy the exhibition. Many thanks Margot and Brian and whichever one of you wrote the card, you have lovely handwriting.

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - Historical Survivors

'Shepherd's Huts - Historical survivors' is the labour of love of Ian McDonald and an absolute must. There are two main sites. The first is dedicated to shepherds' huts around Norfolk, and a second site is now enlarging the search area by taking in Suffolk - Ian is now collecting sightings from around the UK. You can help build the site. As Ian says:
"We know there are lots more out there, either restored, sitting in the corner of a field or a wood, or in restoration. The position of any hut remains absolutely confidential unless it is situated on land open to public access, such as a museum, so please tell us about them so we can add a photo and short description to our site."

Ian uses his own hut as an Art and Craft studio where his wife Carol works and you can visit it here. Ian also offers advice for those looking for restoration specialists or looking to buy a hut.

The various sits are well worth a browse, not least for the marvellous photo galleries. A few of my favourite examples below.

Facebook - Garden Offices group

To be honest I'm not entirely sure what the point of Facebook is, but Shedworking is always game so I've set up a new group dedicated to Garden Offices. If you're already a member, pop along and join the fun. If you haven't joined Facebook yet, then please do sign up (it's free) and then pop along and join the fun. Click here for more details.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quonset huts

Quonset huts were the brainchild of the US military and used for vital warwork in the second world war. They were prefab, light, easily transported, easily put up, and built of corrugated metal. During and after the war, hundreds of thousands were built and then adapted for housing. Over the decades, many have gone the way of all flesh, but happily there are plenty in rude health and have become something of an architectural icon, living on as housing, shop space or just good old shedworking atmospheres. There's a fantastic web site devoted to Quonset Huts, Quonset: Metal Living for a Modern Age where you'll find details of a book about them and a recent exhibition, plus plenty of photos and other delights. Well worth a browse.