Friday, August 31, 2007

Raffles Garden Buildings: thatching

Andrew and David Raffle specialise in the dying art of designing new and restoring historic summerhouses and garden structures with thatched roofs. This means working with moss and heather as well as more wellknown rustic materials. Their site is marvellous, particularly the picture gallery here and features articles on an interesting range of projects including:
* The Heather House at Florence Court, County Fermanagh, home to the Earls of Enniskillen, for the National Trust
* The reconstruction of the 18th century Witches Hut at Hestercombe Gardens (pictured above)
* A new hermitage in the Wilderness Garden at Elton Hall in Cambridgeshire
* The Moss House in the Spring Gardens, Belvoir Castle (pictured below)
* Gettting hold of 6,000 clean knuckle bones to repair Knuckle bone Arbour, Castle Ashby

According to an article in Country Life, both brothers served apprenticeships as thatchers in Derbyshire, but in 1983 they decided to specialise in building and restoring rustic huts. The article continues:
"After much historical research, they embarked on designing their own. 'We thatch with heather, straw or reed, and we use timber which still has the bark on it,' says David Raffle. 'Some people ask us to put in a hidden door, so we build in a bit of curved wood which can act as a door handle, opening into a secret storage space behind.'"

I also particularly like their chicken shed, pictured below.

Helena Bonham Carter to buy shepherd's hut

As reported in helena world via Camden New Journal, film stars Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter are to enrich their Belsize Park home in London by adding a shepherd's hut to the back garden. The couple's architect Mark Beedle says in the planning application submitted to Camden's planners that it will be a “coach-built cabinet” and sit on “cast iron wheels”. The application says it would be an extension to a “child’s suite” inside the house but I suspect it might also double as an office once Tim sees how wonderful it is. Shedworking can exclusivly reveal (well, it's more of a well-educated guess) that the hut – if permission is granted – will be made by Devon-based The Shepherd's Hut Company , featured elsewhere on this site. Mark Beedle says in the application that the project would provide “a ­ legible counterpoint between new and old. The architectural intention is to enhance and ­contribute to the amenity of the setting by maintaining the ­tradition of eclectic expression in response to personal need.” Indeed.

Pip Granger - shedworking novelist

Writers make up a sizeable proportion of shedworkers. Among their number is Pip Granger, award-winning author
of the 'Soho'series of novels set in the 1940s and 1950s (her early childhood was spent in the back seat of a light aircraft as her father smuggled brandy, tobacco and books across the English Channel to be sold in 1950s Soho where she lived above The Two Is Cafe in Old Compton Street). All Pip’s books but the first were written in a shed in the wildlife garden she has created. Thanks to Philip Johnson for the alert.

Friday Eye Candy - Chicken Point Cabin

Seattle-based Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects have a very nice portfolio of shedlike atmospheres. Above is the Chicken Point Cabin, a lakeside shelter in the woods which they describe as "a little box with a big window (30ftx20ft) that opens to the surrounding landscape". It's built with low maintenance concrete, steel and plywood and left unfinished to naturally age. Below are two more examples from OSKAA, the Olson Cabin (originally built in 1959 as a 14’ x 14’ bunk house but since renovated several times), and the Delta Shelter (a steel box on stilts)

National Association of Beach Hut Owners

If you're thinking about investing in a beach hut or are already a member of that happy band, you should seriously consider joining the National Association of Beach Hut Owners. The aim of NABHO is to co-ordinate the activities of local beach hut owners assocations on a national basis - there are around 20,000 in the UK - and act as an umbrella association for local councils with responsibility for beach huts in order to swap ideas on getting the most out of beach hut ownership. It's also a good first stop for guidance and advice on all aspects of beach hut ownership such as insurance, legal problems and maintenance. The web site is growing so it's worth regular checking, particularly their news page here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Looking for a shed on wheels

Shedworking reader Laura Geary writes that she is part of a not-for-profit team working to restore historic Sockburn Hall near Darlington (for more details click here). She has some money to spend on sorting out six months worth of accommodation and writes: "Rather than spend it on rent I'm looking for a small insulated shed (2.5 x 3m perhaps), ideally on a trailer base so that it can be moved, and with a sleeping loft so that I can base myself at Sockburn Hall. I'll use the washing facilities, etc already on site." A sketch of what she's after is pictured above. Anybody who can offer help, advice, or indeed a trailer shed can contact her via the Sockburn Hall website.

Vivid Green: canvas lodges and treehouses

Hertfordshire-based garden office supplier Vivid Green has expanded its garden office line to include canvas lodges and treehouses. Vivid Green's Neil Johnston comments that in the US there is a long tradition of 'wall, wood frame and platform' tents, many of which are still in use in the National Parks such as Yosemite. Now available in the UK will be similar canvas lodges designed by Sweetwater Bungalows: the wood frame provides stability, the fabric walls considerable lightness and cosiness. Vivid Green has also teamed up with treehouse specialists William Skinner.

Feng Shui shedworking

We've posted about how to feng shui your shedlike atmosphere before but for those of you who want some more details, Bootstrapper has come up with 50 simple tips on getting the most out of your home office surroundings. There are some problems for shedworkers - I'm not sure I can really leave 3ft between items of furniture in my shed - but there are some nice ideas there, including installing a miniature water fountain.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Choosing a shed - E-Qube/Unique Timber Frames

An interesting new garden office design called E-Qube has been successfully launched at the Shrewsbury Flower Show (the web site should be up very soon). The prototype timber and glass home office is being promoted in a joint venture between awardwinning caravan sales company Salop Leisure and the Shropshire Enterprise Partnership and made its debut appearance at the show as part of the Enterprise Garden (it is now on display at the Salop Leisure sales centre alongside Shrewsbury bypass at Emstrey Island where it is being used as an information booth). It ticks all the necessary boxes - fully insulated, full electrics, etc - and Unique Timber Frames who make the E-Qube also provide a bespoke fitting service as well as a green roof and waxed oak walls. The design of the Enterprise Garden show garden itself - which won a silver gilt and appeared on the BBC and GMTV - is interesting, cleverly integrating the shedworking atmosphere with a 'Thinking Patio', an area for quiet reflection or a morning coffee break from the desk. The garden was constructed to mark the launch of the Home HQ Shropshire Directory for home based entrepreneurs and innovators.

Music While You Work CDs

We've posted about the wartime BBC radio programme Music While You Work elsewhere and you can now buy CDs of some of the favourite pieces which were brought together to provide psychological uplift to British workers during WWII as they worked their way towards victory. Originally these came as around 400 78s from Decca including popular tunes, light classics and film music as well as musical lollipops. Guild records are republishing lots of light music and have two special CDs dedicated to Music While You Work. Click on the Guild link above to reach a page where you can also listen to some lovely free excerpts from volume 2 or here for volume 1 where there's lots more background material about the pieces.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Homeworking biscuits

Shedworkers must be pound for pound among the heaviest consumers of biscuits in the business community and a new poll suggests that custard creams are the top choice by a country mile: having polled 7,000 munchers, food manufacturers Trufree claim that 90% prefer custard creams, with bourbons, digestives, etc, coming a long way behind. However, as the site suggests, the results are not all that they may seem...
Image courtesy of the fabulous Pimp That Snack site.

Greened house shedworking plans

We've written about Mary's Greened House Building Adventure blog before in which an interesting garden office project is being tracked from beginning to end in a very entertaining way. Anyway, it's all starting to come together now and Mary has uploaded the plans to her site. Well worth a browse, particularly for those of you who have a technical interest in shedworking.

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - Jeremy Cosmo Davies

Northumberland-based designer Jeremy Cosmo Davies sent me details of his shepherd's hut restoration project (pictured above and below) which he describes as a classic labour of love. The dilapidated hut - all that could be salvaged were five beams, the wheel hubs, axles, springs, hoops and part of the front bogey - was completely rebuilt over two-and-a-half years with western red cedar weatherboarding and cedar of lebanon internal panelling. It is now fitted with Kingspan insulation, double-glazing, and a kitchen area with water, electricity, oil lamps and space for a gas cooker. You can read more about it here.


An interesting piece in the Seattle Post Intelligencer by Cecelia Goodnow about new treehouse designs and technology. Treehouseworker artist Lolly Shera says of her own treehouse which has full electrics, insulation and alder panelling: "This is a deeply creative place. I don't have any distractions. There are no 'voices' in here. There's no pull to do the laundry. When it's blowing hard this structure moves, and it feels like a boat that's moored. It groans and creaks. It's like being in a live animal. There's a soul in it that, if you're open to, you can feel."" Goodnow says that treehouses are now being used increasingly as 'escape pods' for babyboomers. She writes:
"Though treehouses have been around for thousands of years, the past decade especially has brought about a high-flying revival, thanks to innovative designs, new technology and a seemingly endless supply of clients with the money to feed their dreams."
Well worth a browse with some good links to treehouse sites at the end of the article. Thanks to Bill Kratz for alerting me to this one.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Portable architecture

An interesting article in The Guardian by Steve Rose looks at the rise of shedlike atmospheres or as he calls them "space-age cubes, rooftop pods, giant caravan cities and garden sheds you can practically live in". The piece features various shedworking favourites including the m-ch, Nils Moormann's Walden and the Loftcube, not to mention the Airstream. Rose comments that these buildings "suggest a shift in the relationship between architecture and nature, a renegotiation between the space we enclose for ourselves and the "outside"." He goes on to say:
"The trend towards mobile, lightweight, eco-friendly lifestyles is growing. Californian architect and academic Jennifer Siegal has even coined a term to sum it up: new nomadism. Architecture is currently one step behind, she says: "We're working and living in a very different way, and yet our buildings have remained static, heavy structures. Our cars are smart, our clothing is smart, our materials are smart and our buildings are still these heavy boxes."
Well worth a browse.

Normal shedworking service resumed

Shedworking has now reopened its doors - many thanks to all the readers who sent me their sheddish photos and news while I was away. To get things underway, here is a shed from Calgary Bay, Mull, sent in by classicist to the stars, Robin Peach.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Annual staff holidays

Shedworking is off to the beach for an icecream and a ride on a donkey. Normal shedservice will be resumed from August 27. A very happy holiday to you all.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Low impact

I wanted to leave you with something inspirational this summer before Shedworking takes its annual staff holidays and while Simon Dale's low impact woodland home is not technically a shed or a garden office, it feels like an archetypal shedworking atmosphere. Built in Wales, this is how Simon describes it:
"The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings."
It is dug into the hillside for low visual impact and shelter with stone and mud used for retaining walls and founations. It has an oak frame, straw bale insulation, and lime plaster on the walls. It's a truly fantastic site and you should definitely have a browse around it.

Simon is also involved in the fascinating eco-village Lammas project in Wales. You should also have a look at the Building a home of earth blog here and an article from the Mail on Sunday by Jane Fryer which poses the question, why are the authorities intent on tearing down the most eco-friendly home in Britain?

Confessions of a Chatroom Freak virtual book tour

Shedworking is proud to be a part of the virtual book tour for Confessions of a Chatroom Freak by Mr Biffo (not, you'll probably have guessed, his real name). If you're old enough to remember the Henry Root letters or more recently The Timewaster Letters, then Confessions is a similar premise but cleverly updated to the 21st century for the internet generation. And rather ruder. Essentially, the book contains transcripts of genuine conversations between 'beautiful' chatroom addict LoopyLisa21f and various would-be suitors. For our section of the book tour, we asked LoopyLisa a few questions about sheds, garden offices and shedlike atmospheres...

- What does your garden office/shed look like?
I’m not sure what you mean, dear. It looks like a shed. You know: like a little wooden house, upon which my dad has roughly scrawled the word “SHED” – in fox dirt! Also, what is a garden office? Is that when people go outside to do work, “al fresno” style? I think that would be lovely. You could sniff the lawn while you filed your office stationary acquisition forms. However, when it rained it would probably interfere with the photocopier. Although I suppose if everyone was working outside you’d always have a robust “tarp” to hand with which to cover any electrical items in the event of rain, hail, snow, or “sleet”. Thinking about it, it’s probably a better idea to work indoors. I’m not sure even a robust “tarp” could protect from very intense “sleet”!

- Why do you like your garden office/shed so much?
To be honest with you, it’s really my dad’s shed. I’m not sure why he likes it so much, but he does spend a lot of time in there. One time, me and Craig followed him down there, and peered in the window. He was just standing there in the middle of the shed, huffing and puffing, and occasionally stamping his feet, laughing and tossing his head from side to side, and chattering at thin air. He doesn’t even have any tools in there – just a load of scorched segs he’s been looking after for a friend. He keeps them under a “tarp”!

- Who would you most like to show around your shed? And why?
I’d like to take Yorkie Peters on a tour of the shed. Do you know Yorkie Peters? He’s my favourite singer: “A song, a smile, and an organ”, that’s his motto. One time I saw him performing on the back of a flatbed truck as it hurtled out of control through the town of Cerne Abbas. Although I should point out that incident only ever happened in a dream. And it wasn’t even a dream that I’d had – it was a dream that was vividly related to me by my friend Craig. And it wasn’t even a dream he’d had! If I ever had the chance to show Yorkie around my shed I’d lay on a special tea for him; I’d serve him Yorkie bars, Yorkshire puddings, and other things from Yorkshire, if I was able to think of any. What a shame Yorkshire isn’t called “Porkshire”, because then I’d be able to serve him pork pies, pork chops, and other thinks made out of pork, if I was able to think of any.

- The German philosopher Martin Heidegger was very fond of his hut and it played a central part in his philosophical outlook - how has your shed influenced your own philosophy of life?
I have never heard of Martin Heidegger, or of the country from which he comes, but I do know what a hut is. I think the way in which sheds have most influenced me is in the way they have influenced most people: my parents locked me in one when I was a child, while they hammered against the windows, and forced an excessive amount of dough through the crack beneath the door.

- Are sheds just for men or can women enjoy them too?
I think sheds should be for everyone – men, women… literally everyone. The best thing about them is that they don’t discriminate. I often think that public lavatories are quite sexist, because there are some that men can go in, and some that women can go in, and some that disabled people can go in, but none that everyone can go in. I have never seen a shed with a sign on the door that restricts entrance to one or other of the genders. Thank goodness for sheds!

- Er, do you actually have a shed?

Confessions of a Chatroom Freak by Mr Biffo is out now from Friday Books and you can buy it here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Icy shedworking

From Horden Cherry Lee architects who brought us the m-ch micro compact home, here is the m-igloo for icy shedworking. Designed by Ingrid Galitzdorfer and Christina Mueller, it's a two person antarctic bivouac and was inspired by snowmobiles and, maybe less guessable, penguins.

And from the same practise is the SkiHaus, above, a mobile alpine hut (or‘hard tent’) built from lightweight aluminium and weighing only 315 kg. The SkiHaus comes with self-sufficient energy systems powered by solar and wind generators and is designed to be lifted into position by helicopter. It has already been tested at nearly 4,000m up in the Swiss Alps and is being used as medical centres, for guide training and for skiers and climbers. This is how their site very poetically describes it:
"SkiHaus was conceived while skiing late and high in the Alps: evening sun, a beautiful, clear, starlit night, twinkling lights of the village in the valley, a reluctance to return: Would it be possible to stay here in the beautiful, cold silence?"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - Gabriel Oak

Gabriel Oak's shepherd's hut in Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd is probably the most famous shed in fiction. Here's how we first meet it in Chapter 2:
"The hut stood on little wheels, which raised its floor about a foot from the ground. Such shepherds' huts are dragged into the fields when the lambing season comes on, to shelter the shepherd in his enforced nightly attendance."
He then brings a new-born lamb inside and has a nap while Hardy describes the interior:
"The inside of the hut, as it now presented itself, was cosy and alluring, and the scarlet handful of fire in addition to the candle, reflecting its own genial colour upon whatever it could reach, flung associations of enjoyment even over utensils and tools. In the corner stood the sheep-crook, and along a shelf at one side were ranged bottles and canisters of the simple preparations pertaining to ovine surgery and physic; spirits of wine, turpentine, tar, magnesia, ginger, and castor-oil being the chief. On a triangular shelf across the corner stood bread, bacon, cheese, and a cup for ale or cider, which was supplied from a flagon beneath. Beside the provisions lay the flute, whose notes had lately been called forth by the lonely watcher to beguile a tedious hour. The house was ventilated by two round holes, like the lights of a ship's cabin, with wood slides."
In the following chapter, he forgets to leave the sides open and nearly suffocates himself with the stove still burning inside. He is rescued by Bathsheba.
"It was not exactly the fault of the hut," she observed in a tone which showed her to be that novelty among women -- one who finished a thought before beginning the sentence which was to convey it. "You should, I think, have considered, and not have been so foolish as to leave the slides closed."

Choosing a shed (US) - Kithaus

Kithaus has an interesting range of lightweight aluminium prefab modules using SIPS including one which is perfect for use as a garden office. The K3 is 9‘ x 13’ (although there are larger models, one including a loft, another with a flat roof) and needs no foundation and because it's aluminium doesn't need painting and won't rot. Like every selfrespecting garden office it has insulated windows and doors and full electrics. Outside it can be clad in either Zinculume (corrugated metal panels) or Ipe wood. There are lots of pictures on the site including how a Kithaus is erected step by step. Via MoCo Loco and Prefabcosm

Fictional sheds - Yoda's hut

We start a new occasional series today looking at fictional sheds with Yoda's hut from Star Wars. According to the marvellously-titled Wookieepedia where you can find a huge amount of extra detail:
"Yoda's hut was a dwelling made by Yoda during his self-imposed exile on Dagobah. The hut was simple, constructed of mud, but utilized his escape pod energy source. Despite this, Yoda had to draw upon the Force at all times just to hold it together. Yoda salvaged most of the parts from his escape pod to build this hut. He utilized deck grating for a solid foundation, illumination panels for lighting, and thrust nozzles for shaping his windows and doorway. He then packed mud from around the area to form the outer "shell" of his home. Then, the only matter that remained to be built was the interior."
Apparently, the first blueprint of the hut was more like a mosque with stained glass windows. This hut was built inside a tree, and after Yoda died it almost disintegrated without his Force to hold it together (not unlike some other sheds I know).

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sheds and Shacks on television

Uncle Wilco from and the force behind National Shed Week has been helping ITV 1 West put together the Sheds and Shacks programme for their Great Little Escapes series It airs on Thursday, August 9 at 7.30pm. You won't want to miss it. Here's how he describes it:
"New series taking a look at the places people go to relax and escape everyday life, from beach huts to gypsy caravans, railway carriages to fishermen’s huts. In the first episode, presenter Julie Fisher meets a Gloucestershire man who has created a pub in his garden, and goes to Wiltshire to see a music studio in a shed."
You can read more at Wilco's shedblog here where you can also see a picture of him in action.

Fewer germs for homeworkers

Yet another survey backing up what we know already, that shedworking and homeworking is the way forward. This one from ntl: Telewest which ticks off most of the boxes (it improves job performance, enhances lifestyle and reduces environmental impact). More interesting were these other responses:
· 40 per cent said they made more of an effort to be green than their employer
· 39 per cent thought they would get ill less because they would be exposed to fewer germs
· 50 per cent that they would eat less pre-packed food if they work from home
Stephen Beynon, MD, ntl:Telewest Business, said:
"The home working revolution is continuing to gather pace in this country. The pressures of the rat race mean that many people want to work from home permanently or occasionally. As more employers make home working an option, so employees are recognising the impact that commuting and office environments have on our planet and on themselves. Equally, home working can be positive for employers. If your people work from home more, you’re likely to have a healthier and more productive workforce, as well as lower office overheads."

Lifepod - futuristic shedworking

The Lifepod project is an ongoing development by Kyu Che, an interdisciplinary environment designer involved with architecture, design, and the visual arts, who describes it as: "The best of 21st century automotive, aeronautic, nautical, and RV technologies are utilized to create a simply assembled fully functioning high tech mini capsule for living." It's highly portable and inspired by both the traditional Mongolian Ger and mammals as the structural system is a "quadrupedal fuselage" with adjustable footings for uneven land. All the modular bits and pieces fit into a 40ft container. It proudly states it is very much off-grid. I particularly like the look of the Balipod pictured below.

Here's an inside shot.

And here's what it would look like if you owned a forest.

Thanks to been-seen who have a nice section called Go Cabin featuring lots of other shedlike atmospheres.

Shedworking in The Times

The fine folk at The Times obviously have their eye on the surge towards shedworking: after the mention a fortnight ago, Shedworking gets another namecheck today in the Click section here. Here's what they say:
"Sheds are more than musty, dusty garden storage units. In the books of such authors as Roald Dahl they are hubs of creativity and cubicles of solace from the outside world. The blog Shedworking is the only daily updated guide to the lifestyles of those who choose to work in their garden offices, as well as other homeworkers."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Should we be building our garden offices with mud?

The Sydney Morning Herald has a nice piece by Steve Meacham on the resurgence of interest in building with mud. It includes an interview with environmental engineer Dominic Dowling who points out:
"If you can make something from the earth, it can be sourced very close to the location. And, at the end of the day, it can all just be returned to the earth. It's got to the way of the future. Mud homes aren't just something poor people in developing countries live in. It's a wonderfully appropriate construction material for Australia because of its environmental advantages, its thermal advantages, its aesthetics and its liveability. Internally, earth construction controls the climate so wonderfully you don't have to rely so much on energy consumption for heating and cooling."
Dowling has a mud building - which also has applications for areas of dangerous earthquake activity - on show at the Powerhouse Museum as part of the Sydney Design 07 exhibition from August 4 to 19.

State-run holiday sheds

The Guardian has this interesting roundup of the five best state-run lodges and cabins around the world. Their five are:
- Sossus Dune Lodge, Namibia (pictured above)
- Grövelsjön Mountain Lodge, Sweden
- Green Point Cottage, Sydney
- Didima Camp, South Africa
- Te Kopi, New Zealand

Lighthouse sheds

If you're a frustrated lighthousekeeper, how about a lighthouse garden office? The Lewisberg-based Lighthouse Man site has a vast range of lighthouse-related items, including sheds (and playhouses) such as the 25' Lighthouse Tower in Cape Hatteras Stripe pictured left or the 18' Lighthouse Tower with playhouse and front porch pictured below. It comes in a wide variety of sizes and with various lighting options (you can have a conventional 60 watt bulb, a large revolving beacon or a 12V solar powered revolving beacon). The business has been up and running since 1997.

Here's what they look like inside.

Also take a look at Lighthouse Sheds. These have a domed roof with a copper finial cap, around 19ft high. The exterior is primarily curved but includes a few dodecagon elements as contrasting accents. There is a marvellous section on the site about how an early model withstood a tornado. Also take a look at this article at The Herald about a homebuilt lighthouse shed produced by David Addicott designed to withstand a hurricane and is powered by a 100-watt bulb that makes four revolutions a minute. It comes on at 7pm and lights the back yard until 1am each night.

Blurring the boundaries

Not strictly an article on shedworking, nevertheless this piece by Elspeth Thompson has some interesting ideas for blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors when it comes to garden design and outdoor structures/living. Here's one suggestion:
"Colours for walls and the bases of built-in benches and other surfaces can also be linked with the interior. When using white, or shades of white, however, go for a slightly darker shade outside, as it will always appear brighter in natural light. The colours of key plants can also be chosen to tie in with the indoor décor. Though green as a backdrop goes with anything, it would be fun to have a rose such as 'Empereur du Maroc', whose ravishing deep red blooms could be echoed by a cushion or chair cover inside, or to pick out the colours of a favourite painting in your planting."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Shedliving exhibition

Clarence Hamilton Creasey - gardener, writer, friend of HG Wells and shedliver for several years - is to be celebrated in an exhibition at the Sir Henry Jones Museum in Llangernyw, Conwy, which runs from August 4 until the end of September. More details at the BBC site here and here. According to the BBC:
"As his retirement approached he seems to have had some sort of mid-life crisis and decided to turn his family's life upside-down. In 1929 he moved to Llangernyw to create the garden of his dreams on the side of an abandoned slate quarry. Its major asset was a magnificent waterfall reminiscent of one he must have seen in Bodnant. The river and waterfall were the focal point of what was to become a wonderful garden planted with rare and newly introduced plants. But this move came at some cost to his family as the land was rented and had no house. He solved this problem by building a shed (known as "the hut") in which he lived for a number of years while his wife Nell and youngest son Ron moved to St Asaph."
The wooden house still stands today, though is in need of renovation.

Lady Verulam's shed

My local newspaper, The St Albans Review, reports on Lady Verulam whose estate is five minutes walk from Shedworking HQ. She is the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire but has fallen foul of the planners over a former potting shed on her land, known as the Gorhambury Estate (where Francis Bacon once lived). Here's how the Review reports the problem:
"The 52-year-old countess, appointed by the Queen in June as her official representative in the county, wants to convert the building to residential use. St Albans District Council has refused the scheme, which would involve an extension, planning permission as "an unacceptable intensification of the use of the Green Belt. The countess' appeal states: "The proposed use will not cause any greater harm to the countryside than the former use." Her lawyers argue that people living in the building would deter vandals who have damaged property on the estate including the remains of the original Gorhambury House. The dispute will be resolved by a government inspector after written representations."

Lord Lieutenant or not, St Albans District Council's planners have a national reputation for being tough.


A lovely shedlike atmosphere by Keith Dewey, the man behind the rather bigger Zigloo featured on inhabitat's regular Prefab Friday. Built for an artist on a hill in Oak Bay, it is a one floor art studio with a great view (hence view-dio), 110 square feet, and placed between two large rock outcrops. Green and blue bottles are incorporated into the walls and the viewdio also makes use of reclaimed windows. More pictures of the lovely thing here.

Friday Eye Candy - last day of design a shed competition

It's the last day of Line of Site's marvellous summer competition to design a shed which we've been following over the last month (here and here). Here's a final (and quite long) roundup - which has a strong green theme - of some of our favourite recent entries but there are lots, lots more in their gallery here including some imaginative reinventions of the shed. Pictured above is Phil O'Shaughnessy's The Garden Shed and below is Thidaa Roberts' The Vanishing Shed. Thidaa describes it as:
"An ideal shed studio would be a place where the space itself is an inspiring as well as private area. In order to hide the secret space, I designed the space to appeal to growing vines by having extrusions of ribbons for the foliage to grab onto. Over time this space will change and eventually vanish into its surroundings."

I was also intrigued by John Bridge's Seed Shed, below.

And by Carly Greenway's Re-tyre built from some of the 15 million waste rubber tyres that Britain produces every year, glazing some as windows, boarding others up and using others to grow plants.

I also liked the simplicity of Martin Ablett's Rethinking the Shed, below.

A shed of one's own

Chris Routledge, whose shedworking lifestyle we posted about earlier this week has an excellent article on The Reader online concerning where writers write and naturally it includes plenty on sheds and shedlike atmospheres. Here he is on the early days after having built his shed:
"That first week, listening to the Lancashire rain pounding on the roof I made, and not coming in, I felt connected with something very old and very human. That feeling is also there in the process of writing itself. There is the construction, collecting materials and shaping them into something new, but there is also something more elemental: the need for shelter and to communicate are part of what we are. Perhaps for that reason writers have always been escape artists, constantly seeking a place where they can connect at a deep level with the world outside. For many that has meant running away to cabins in the woods, distant islands, and garden sheds."

Other writers namechecked include Cheever (not a shed man), Orwell, Chandler, Faulkner, Twain and of course Thoreau, the last two very much shedworkers. Well worth a browse.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Keeping your shed special

There were many great entries in this year's Shed of the Year competition, but one of my favourites was the one which came third pictured above in North Wales owned by John Hutchinson who very sportingly commented that the winner and runner-up sheds were "certainly splendid creations". He writes:
" Perhaps I should issue a challenge for the judges to have another look at the contenders in 100 years' time. My cedar shingle roof will probably have been replaced by then, but the rest of it should be mellowing in nicely. One of the factors in deciding to go for oak (apart from my chum Ron being an oakwright) was that it should last a few centuries, which makes it a good 'green' option. Softwood sheds that rot away in 20 years even if they are doused with preservatives aren't a good choice, in my view."

Despite owning this lovely shed, John (a journalist) does not work in it and indeed banned items include televisions, mobile phones, laptops and all work related paraphernalia. "Although I work from home and The Shed would make a superb office," he says, "I am sticking with my decision to keep it a work free sanctuary (no phones or PCs allowed over the bridge). The moral is that home workers need sheds because they keep us sane!"
You can find out more about it on John's own site here.

Hemingway's Outdoor Home Office (HOHO)

Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway, designers (they were the founders of Red or Dead) and judges of Enterprise Nation's new Home Business Award, have a wonderful shedworking atmosphere, a teepee in their back garden known as Hemingway's Outdoor Home Office (or HOHO). It has two levels with a suspended communal desk on the ground floor deck. The wood comes from sustainable sources including 10 BT telegraph poles. More details at their website here and an article about it in Whatlaptop here which concentrates more on the technology they use to work from the teepee and where Hemingway says:
"I love the outdoors, and to be in touch with the environment. So I have set up an outdoor workspace at home on the south coast, which has electricity fitted, as well as being a wireless networked space. I can take my laptop there to work, and can use scanners and printers if I need to, but still be in touch with the environment outside my home. There is a similar space at the London office – a garden with wireless networking, so we can work outside on nice days."

Modular building

Modular construction techniques are at the heart of most shedworker's daily architectural atmosphere. Of course these same techniques are equally applicable to housebuilding and in the US in particular, modular buildings are becoming increasingly popular (in the UK it's still a bit of a news story although IKEA's flatplack BoKlok homes may help dispel some of the stereotypes). One area where modular is of special interest is in rebuilding homes in disaster zones. Architects such as Sean Godsell have already come up with various ideas which resemble shedlike atmospheres and there is an interesting story on the Everything Alabama web site looking at how modular building has helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to prefabcosm for this, a very interesting blog which has the ambitious aim of creating the web's number one resource for prefab and modular homes. Certainly well worth a regular browse.

Workplace flexibility revives employees

There's a nice piece on the CNN site detailing various companies in the US which are successfully using various methods of flexible working/homeworking. One example:
"At the insurance brokerage company NRG::SEATTLE, employees are encouraged to work at home one day every week so they can concentrate better and recharge their spirits. The result is little turnover and a higher attraction for recruiting employees who are full of energy at work."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Home Business Award launched

Those champions of shedworking and homeworking Enterprise Nation have today launched their first Home Business Award (in fact it's the UK's first ever award dedicated to home business). There are full details on how to enter on their always browseable web site here but what they're looking for is the home business that shows most progress and promise across three areas: business, lifestyle and technology. "Having spent 18 months uploading news stories on various Award schemes for you to enter, we realised that there was no single Award that celebrated home businesses. So we decided to create one!" says Emma Jones, founder and editor of Enterprise Nation. The winner will get lots of goodies (including a year's supply of Douwe Egberts coffee) as well as the kudos and ensuing publicity. The impressive lineup of judges are Emma herself, Rachel Bridge (Enterprise Editor, The Sunday Times), Wayne Hemingway (Founder, Red or Dead & CEO, Hemingway Design) and Ann Carter-Gray (Head of Enterprising People, Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform). Shedworking and The Shed magazine will naturally be entering so you'll have to get past us first.

Heidegger's Hut

A nice piece in the latest issue of Cabinet magazine by Leland de la Durantaye on Heidegger's Hut. For more details, see the post here which covers Adam Sharr's book on the same subject.