Sunday, September 30, 2007

Choosing a shed - Antique Buildings

If you're looking for an ancient oak-framed garden office, have a browse through the web site of Dunsford-based Antique Buildings which supply everything from a beam to a building. They have a massive stock of reclaimed ancient oak beams saved from buildings which sadly are no longer with us plus complete frames of a couple of dozen buildings, including several suitable for a shedworker. They can also supply handmade peg tiles, bricks, stone, floorboards, and ironwork. You're too late for the Bishops Waltham Granary above (c.1700, 14ft square, ideal for a garden room office or studio) which has just been sold, but pictured below is Frittleworth Barn from c. 1700 which once stood at Fittleworth, West Sussex, 28ft by 17.5ft and, say Antique Buildings, would be ideal for a studio.

Of toilets, privacy and working at home

A nice piece by Richard Donkin of the FT rounding up some of the latest surveys about homeworking but adding his own very personal spin. Here's an example:
"But it is the behaviour of individuals, not companies, that has led the changes in home working and teleworking. This is not a movement that has been management-led although managers have often proved willing accomplices. The next steps will continue to be lifestyle-led as people explore the possibilities offered by extended broadband access. The UK now has more than 99 per cent terrestrial broadband coverage, enabling people to balance the desire for remoter living with the needs for periodic business meetings and travel commitments."
Well worth reading.

Helvetica - the mug of the film

We posted about the film Helvetica some time back and have just come across this rather lovely mug from Veer (sadly, only available at the moment inside North America) to add to our occasional postings on nice mugs.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Walden Woods Project

Henry David Thoreau is the Father of shedworking and his classic Walden is a must-read for anybody who works in a shed or shedlike atmosphere. The Walden Woods Project preserves the land, literature and legacy of Thoreau and aims to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility through conservation, education and research. The site is well worth a browse.

Chinese House, Stowe

The landscaped gardens at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (managed by the National Trust) are full of wonderful garden buildings, if not specifically shedworking ones. My favourite is the compact timber-framed Chinese House pictured above which was sensitively restored in 2005. It's almost certainly the earliest Chinese pavilion in the UK - which in the 18th century saw a huge interest in neo-Chinese architecture - dating from at least 1738 and probably designed by the famous architect William Kent. For those interested in restoration, there's an excellent article about it at by Rory Cullen, Nikita Hooper and Christine Sitwell.

Friday Eye Candy - Modular Transitional Growth

Although designed as eco-friendly prefab housing, the Modular Transitional Growth Housing system from the Philippe Barriere Collective would also make a stylish shedworking atmosphere. According to inhabitat:
"Designed for mass production, affordability, and easy transport, these compact housing units also boast a self-recycling process that reuses existing parts for future applications and BioClimactic design for natural light and passive cooling."

Beach hut - not much change from £100,000

The silly season of beach hut prices continues with the pictured beach hut at Teignmouth beach in Devon going for £91,000 at an auction which attracted 70 bidders. According to this is south devon it was bought by greengrocer Robert Bray (and his millionaire hedge fund manager son). Their plan is to demolish it and rebuild.
Via shedblog.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Choosing a shed - Energy Space

Sydenham-based Energy Space have just opened their doors and those of you interested in green shedworking will be particularly interested to hear that its Z Energy Space model stands for zero energy and is built to generate electricity through solar panels in its roof. According to Energy Space, the building's low heating requirements with the added energy creation make this range carbon neutral (which they claim makes them unique among garden office suppliers). Here's an example of their greenness:
"The Z Energy-Space® range of buildings is equipped with an array of solar panels that can provide the energy required in the garden building whilst in use. When not in use the energy is diverted to the main house or, if there is nobody at home, back to the grid."
There's a clear section on sustainable building methods employed on the design and construction. All models come with cedar slat external wall cladding, timber laminate flooring, internal roller blinds, sliding glass doors and an alarm. Optional extras include perimeter sensors which I rather fancy.

Director Aaron Priestman, who has just finished an MSc in Environmental Architecture, told Shedworking: "I am applying everything I have learnt about low-carbon building through garden rooms. The idea that someone can experience a carbon neutral building now (without moving home) really appeals to me." There is also a landscape design and construction service available.

Spruce up your shed's shelves

I'm the offspring of librarian archivist booksellers from whom I have inherited an obsession with making sure my books in the house are in proper alphabetical order (and then divided by subject matter, of course). However, in the shed all rules are off and I was particularly inspired by the pool of photos on Flickr called The Rainbow of Books (example pictured above).

Ikea's flatpack BoKlok homes this weekend

As reported in the Daily Telegraph by Paul Wilkinson, Ikea's new flatpack BoKlok homes will be unveiled to the public this weekend at branches on Tyneside. Initially, they will be offering just flats and houses, but how long before they offer a garden office model?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sustain MiniHome - future of shedworking

The Sustain MiniHome comes very much under the category of the future of shedworking (an architect friend told me he thought it was the "best shed in the world").
Essentially, it's a very eco-friendly prefab minihome which is available on wheels for extra mobility. It's quite compact which is not to everybody's taste (see the comments and discussion on this post at inhabitat) and there are several pieces about it on treehugger which lists the MiniHome's many, many green credentials. There are lots of excellent pictures on the Sustain site and a genuinely useful FAQ. Below is a video which shows off the MiniHome nicely.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shed on wheels - update

Earlier this month Shedworking reported on Laura Geary's plans to live in a shed on wheels during her restoration project at Sockburn Hall and we invited the garden office suppliers who regularly read this site to come forward with their suggestions. And they have done so. Laura says one of the most promising, though not within her £5,000 budget, has come with full drawings and pricing for various options including a trailer. Here's what she says:
"The trailer is W 2.2m x L 3.6m, and the internal height would be 3m, lowering to 1.8m (fine for little me at 5'4"!) under the sleeping platform which will be full width (accessed by a ladder) at the back 2m of the shed. It's fully electrified (!) with sheeps wool insulation and the wood/windows are reclaimed where possible. Thedesign sounds great with cedar shingle roof and a choice of horizontal or vertical claddings. There will be two windows, and probably a half-heck door.

"It's certainly giving me lots to think about. I've had it measured out on the floor to try to visualise it and size wise I think it'll be ideal - though the bigger it is the more I'll be tempted to try to fit in it! Another company is quoting for the work in something other than their traditional oak (that might be a little pricey!) but for many people it seems that as it's such a nonstandard request it falls off the'to do' list!" Some are happier with the adventurous, bespoke requests than others!"
If you'd like to contact Laura with your thoughts, you can email her at

Ad hoc homeworkers - yep, it's another survey

Lucy Ward at The Guardian has this story on another new survey on homeworking (with all too familiar, if nonetheless welcome results) by YouGov for Zurich insurance. She reports that "almost a third of full-time employees are now resisting the delights of the office to spend some time each month working at home" according to the figures. Zurich calls them "ad hoc home workers" and they clock up an average of 16 hours working at home each month. Ward goes on to say:
"The occasional homeworking trend is set to increase further, the poll of more than 1,000 adult full-time workers suggests, with a third of those already spending some working time at home predicting they will do so more often over the next 12 months. Even those who do not officially work at home are increasingly doing so in practice: one in five said they checked emails or read documents."
And why? The ususal suspects - beating the commute, peace and quiet away from colleagues, freedom to choose working hours. Some idiots also said they wanted a lie-in or to watch daytime television.

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - holiday hut

If you're looking for a shedlike atmosphere for your next holiday, try this fully restored traditional shepherd's hut which provides unusual accommodation for two people in conjunction with any of the cottages run by Ian and Diana Ventham at Shitterton Farmhouse Cottages in Dorset. It has electrics and a heater, small twin beds (which can be turned into a double), but no lavatory. Available from £20 per day (minimum 2 days).

Home office debate - what should it look like?

What's your idea of how a home office should look? Pictured above at Apartment Therapy Chicago is The Home Office by designer Douglas Levine. Apartment Therapy say the idea was all about "creating an office that takes advantage of new technology - no desk or file cabinets needed" and goes on to describe its favourite elements (gold replacing silver for pulls; bright artwork on dark, textured walls; traditional furniture pieces like the wing chairs in updated, slim, modern shapes). Not everybody agrees however that this is an genuine home office setup and the comments below the post are well worth reading...

Mobile workforce report

As reported in Personnel Today, a new survey (from facilities management firm Johnson Controls - no relation) suggests that the traditional office's days are numbered and the workforce is becoming increasingly mobile: indeed, it claims that more than 70% of people consider themselves completely independent in where they can work. The article says:
"Rather than completely abandoning the traditional corporate office, the research shows that employees are using a mix of home, remote and office working as part of a combined package. More than 60% of the staff questioned said they used a combination of office, home and remote working, while 35% said it was not important to go into the office at all. The research shows that flexible working has become far more mainstream in the past five years, with staff spending more time hot-desking, working from home, or working remotely."
Other interesting points:
> the average amount of time spent working in a corporate office has fallen from 55% in 2002 to just 18%
> during the same period, the amount of time spent working remotely has grown by 21%, while homeworking has risen by 16%
>67% of workers claim it actually improves relationships with managers and colleagues

Monday, September 24, 2007

Michael Nyman - The Hut

The Hut comes from Nyman's one movement Piano Concerto which is based on music from The Piano and is split into several named sections. The Hut is the fast-paced third section with a syncopated piano theme.

Softsleeper - huts

Softsleeper is a design studio producing arts related books, catalogues and websites, self-published books, video and photographic projects, works for exhibition, and sound recordings run by Peter Maybury and Marie-Pierre Richard. Above is a picture of their intriguing book 'huts' which you can flick through online here.
the douglas hyde gallery, dublin, 2005
concept : john hutchinson / tal r
includes works by : tal r, chris ofili, peter doig
122 pg. + endpapers case bound cloth cover book
cover + spine blind embossed with tipped-in image
inside : 4 colour process throughout on varying paper stocks, except last 24pg. section 1 colour
printed by rosbeek bv, netherlands

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shedworking in The Guardian

The Guardian's weekend Guide magazine includes Shedworking on its blog roll of interesting work-related sites on the interweb. It says: "Everything about working in a shed. Now with added beach huts." We're just below Working At Food Place (A supermarket slave on the world seen from the cigarette kiosk counter, including the customers who return used bog roll) and just above Bus Driving (The driver of the No 12 from Newton Abbot to Brixham reveals all).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Working from home saves lots of electricity

A new report from the Consumer Electronics Association in the US suggests that using electronics to work from home saves the equivalent of 9 to 14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or as they put it, "the same amount of energy used by roughly 1 million U.S. households every year". Lots more figures and the full report here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Moveable shedworking

It's made of plywood, it measures 48 x 48 x 48 inches and it's by James Westwater. You can creep in here (just about) and imagine you're shedworking somewhere exotic on a flokati cushion on wheels.

Win A Guide To All Things Nice (including Shedworking)

It Is Just You, Everything's Not Shit: A Guide To All Things Nice by Steve Stack is a riposte to all those books which suggested that life is generally going downhill fast. Steve takes quite the opposite view and in this book (which has already got some great reviews) as well as his jolly blog here he chronicles some nice things such as Good Hair Days, the Landmark Trust, Smallfilms, honesty boxes and...shedworking. Yes, in the Working From Home section the book features four pages of an interview with me about the joys of shedworking and some background to the whole shedworking enterprise. I've got a couple of copies to give away, thanks to the wise and handsome folk at the book's publishers The Friday Project. For a chance to win, just add your comment below about something which you think is really nice and my favourite two will get a copy. Usual Shedworking competition rules apply. Or you can simply buy a copy by clicking here.

Walt Disney - shedworker

Here it is, Walt Disney's first Garage Studio, at his uncle Robert's house, 4406 Kingswell Street, Los Angeles. It was saved from demolition in 1984 and moved to the Stanley Ranch Museum. For more details on his early studios, try Dear Old Hollywood here.
Via you-are-here

Picturesque and the shed

Not really breaking news, but back in 2002 Karen Henderson came up with an interesting site specific work for the Picture This: Revisiting the Picturesque exhibition at Burford House, Ludlow. For the exhibition various artists produced contemporary responses to the 18th century Picturesque movement which centred on the relationship between humans and the landscape environment, something that all shedworkers will be familiar with. Here is Henderson's take on it, Garden Shed Folly, a prefab shed with coloured glass panels. "Inside the shed," she writes, "the coloured panes of glass filter and frame the landscape while the viewers find themselves on display."

Hybrid Seattle - cargotecture

HyBrid Seattle describe themselves as "a multi-disciplinary team of creative thinkers in the fields of architecture, art, landscape architecture, history and urban ecology." Their particular interests are ecological designs, prefab and cargotecture (building using shipping containers - they say cargotecture has the ability to "transcend values related to beauty and aesthetics and to affect people on a visceral and emotional level".). Here are two examples of their interesting work. Above, the detached studio, a garden office model specifically aimed at shedworkers which can also feature a roof deck and solar panels. Below is the similar Studio 320 in situ. The web site is well worth a browse with plenty of lovely images and a forum.

Friday Eye Candy - Live Life Outdoors

Live Life Outdoors are not technically garden office suppliers but their handmade 3.7m diameter thatched hardwood gazebos would be pleasant spots for some minor shedworking. The thatch should last 15 years in the UK and naturally is fully waterproof. Optional extras include benches, hexagonal tables and curtains/screens.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shedworking is no picnic

A very funny piece about the joys (and some not joys) of homeworking by Robert Kirby in the Salt Lake Tribune here called Working From Home Is No Picnic. Here are some of my favourite bits about the downside of being a home-anchored worker:
"You have to clean up after yourself in a home office. If your work space starts smelling like a truck stop restroom, there's no one else to blame it on...A major drawback of a home job is the complete lack of opportunity to steal office supplies. You have to watch this one. The first year working at home, I stole myself into the red out of force of habit...The interruptions at home are harder to duck than in a real office. You can blow off a meeting with your supervisor there. But it's utterly impossible to tell a 4-year-old redhead that you can't take an hour and help him hit ants with a hammer."

Arthur Miller's shed

In 1948, Arthur Miller built a white clapboard cabin in Roxbury, Connecticut, specifically as a base in which to write Death of a Salesman, even though he had never built anything similar in his life (he said the hardest part was putting up the roof rafters by himself). As he built, he put together the play in his mind, although he did also make use of his desk, an old recycled door. More details about the shed and the play in a great, but quite long, article by The New Yorker's John Lahr here.

The Cheese Shed

The Cheese Shed (which has been very supportive of National Shed Week and often appears on Uncle Wilco's various sites - click here to see it on is a mail order cheese shop where you can buy the widest range of Westcountry cheese online. There's a huge variety and best of all, the nerve centre of the operation is the shed pictured above (with cheese). Here's what they say about themselves:
"What we're about is celebrating Westcountry cheese, based on our enthusiasm for the great range of cheeses produced around us, many of which are up there with the best in the world. We're particularly keen to include artisan cheeses and new cheeses from small makers - alongside the more well-known and well-established varieties."
The shed doesn't actually contain any cheese, but it is the general office where plenty of shedworking is done. More background information here.

Poustinia - hermit's cabin

A poustinia is rather like an eastern European religious hermit's cabin. These examples, by architects Bates Maher, at the Glencomeragh House Retreat Center in the Comeragh Mountains of Ireland. The idea is that you simply sit and contemplate/meditate and the surroundings certainly encourage that, set in woodland with wild flower meadows with various walks and ponds. Built using locally sourced wood (larch and douglas fir) with a minimalist interior.

Now playing: Susan Drake - Le Cygne (The Swan)
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bathing Beauties - winners and weekend

We've been covering the marvellous Bathing Beauties for several months here at Shedworking. You'll find pictures of the winners below but you should also make a beeline for Mablethorpe and Sutton on Sea this weekend (September 22-23) where the longest linear arts festival in the world - the Bathing Beauties Festival (poster pictured above) - will be held in beach huts along the seashore - poetry, fireworks, storytelling, music, drama, guided tours, and much more. Click here for more information. You'll also be able to see the winning huts in the flesh and even book them for daily summer hire in 2008.

So, the winners of the main competition were:
> Atelier NU, Montreal (Quebec), for 'Halcyon Beach Hut' built with plexiglass and western red cedar

> Feix&Merlin, London, for 'Eyes Wide sHut', a'picture frame' hut with two ornate hand crafted timber frames and floor to ceiling dark tinted mirrored panels

> 'i-am' associates, London, for 'Jabba', the world's first contemporary cave, made from cedar wood, glass and colour anodised aluminium as sedimentary layers.

> we made that, London, for 'A Hut for Gazing and Canoodling' an inconspicuous black hideaway with a lush interior (to be installed in 2008).

I also liked the winner of the Best Scale ModelT by hurgood Hobson Design, London, for their model 'Lazy Susan' inspired by the Airstream caravan and which is designed to rotate to follow the sun.

The beach huts will be the property of East Lindsey District Council, will be officially opened for public view on 22 & 23 Sept 2007, when advance bookings will be taken for daily public hire for 2008. More details including a full list of winners and pictures at the Bathing Beauties site here.

Are you a home-anchored worker?

Shedworker? Homeworker? Teleworker? In the latest issue of the journal New Technology, Work and Employment, Linda Wilks and Jon Billsberry ask the question 'Should we do away with teleworking? An examination of whether teleworking can be defined in the new world of work'. And this is their answer (well, an abstract of it):
"This empirical paper analyses data gathered from self-employed teleworkers, matching this against teleworking's defining characteristics, which appear in the literature. Our evaluation leads us to question whether the term ‘teleworking’ has lost much of its value in today's working world. We therefore suggest the new term ‘home-anchored worker’ as a less complex and more useful replacement."
Personally, it doesn't seem that catchy nor that useful.

Now playing: Emma Jones, Editor, - Episode 16: Making a good first impression
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shepherd's Hut Tuesday - Artisan

Artisan Shepherd’s Huts is run by expert joiner Paulus Smith from his West Sussex medieval threshing barn base. Although all huts are bespoke (up to around 12ft by 8ft), there are two main designs, a traditional one with steps and stable door (with bed inside), or a more shedlike model with double doors and optional decking. Wheels are cast to orginal patterns from molten iron and the pine used for the construction comes from managed sustained plantations and is pressure treated. The walls and roof are fully insulated and each hut is fitted with a solid oak floor. 

Wood burning stove, electrics and plumbing are extra.Artisan also run one day art and craft courses from their workshop.

Western Red Cedar

If you're working in a garden office, the chances that some of it is built with Western Red Cedar is pretty high. For more information on this useful wood, take a look at the Western Red Cedar Export Association site here. There are picture galleries, a section on sustainability and plenty of technical details.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pimp your garden office

I've never come across anybody who is so positive about the workplace as Alexander Kjerulf whose site Positive Sharing describes him as Chief Happiness Officer. Mr Kjerulf speaks and consults on happiness at work and to this end has written a book called, marvellously, Happy Hour is 9 to 5 - Learn how to Love your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work. It's certainly a refreshing site in many ways with some interesting posts, two of particular interest to shedworkers being 12 ways to pimp your office and 10 seeeeeeeeeeeriously cool workplaces (pictured above is Kathy Sierra's shedworking trailer from this list, pictured below is her actual workspace).
As Alexander says:
"Physical space matters. It’s easier to be productive, creative and happy at work in a colourful, organic, playful environment than in a grey, linear, boring one. And I’m not talking about the outside of the building. Many companies have buildings that are sleek, modern, architectural glass-steel-and-cement sculptures on the outside - and cubicle wastelands on the inside. These companies need to remember that most employees tend to work inside the building."

Well worth a browse

Illuminated manuscript

The key to shedworking is to make the most of the space you have. Here, then, is Artecnica's lamp shade Book of Lights which they describe quite rightly as "the ultimate illuminated manuscript'. One moment it's a hardback coffee table book. But hang on, open it up and it's a lamp powered by a low voltage adapter. Designed by Takeshi Ishiguro).
Via CubeMe

Edvard Grieg's hut

Many composers as well as artists and writers work in sheds. Among the most famous was Edvard Grieg whose lakeside hut at Troldhaugen, Norway, (built 1891) is pictured above. Grieg decided he needed a decent shedworking space following a spate of visitors and noise from the kitchen in his house (although he then found that the lake provided other, albeit more delightful, distractions such as boats going past. Below is a postcard showing the inside of the hut.

Grieg also had a clever trick - whenever he left the hut, he left a message for intruders: “If anyone should break in here, please leave the musical scores, since they have no value to anyone except Edvard Grieg”. I think I'll try that. Pictured below is another of his writing huts in the garden of Hotel Ullensvang in the middle of the garden of Fjord Norway. It is also open to the public.

Via Been/Seen and the Edvard Grieg Museum

Spanish garden shed

Not technically a place in which to shedwork but still lovely is this garden hut by Eightyseven at Sant Miquel de Cruilles in Spain. It was a winner in the 2004 ar awards for emerging architecture. This is how the judges described it:
"The client considers his garden as an open-air room of the house, so, from the first, the little place was thought of as a large piece of furniture, and created with much attention to detail. In winter, it acts as a compact storage shed, in summer it folds open to become a gazebo."
Essentially, it's a square box with rusty steel walls and two triangular skylights. The walls slide back when it's hot.

Now playing: Coldplay - Speed Of Sound
via FoxyTunes

Shedwork in a metal container

Using shipping containers as homes is a new-ish trend in the USA (but also here in the UK, see here), but they could of course also be used as excellent shedworking atmospheres - indeed the All Terrain Cabin is pretty much there already. One of the major names in the living container world is Lot-Ek who have also designed living spaces using recycled airplane fuselages. Above is an example of their work. It's sturdy, it's easily transportable and, while it might be a bit of a squeeze in many back gardens, eye-catching. There's a nice video at inhabitat of the Lot-Ek folk explaining their methods.
Now playing: Madeleine Peyroux - I'm All Right
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rotating Sphere Lounger

If you're not so keen on a fullyfledged shed, how about this lovely shedlike atmosphere, the Rotating Sphere Lounger from Birmingham-based Farmers Cottage Lamps. The sphere is made from pressure treated pine laminates with a diameter of 2.4 m. Each timber circle is approximately 90mm wide and 120mm deep and between each section is a polycarbonate window to protect the neo-shedworker from the elements while allowing you to watch the rain fall. There are polished stainless louvers above and below the window which Farmers Cottage Lamps say help reflect the environment around it. Shedworking is, as regular readers will know, a sucker for a rotating shedlike atmosphere - here, the platform is mounted onto an angle iron ring which has a series of roller bearings attached to it. This upper angle iron frame sits into a lower angle iron ring, which then makes a track for the sphere to rotate on. Also available is a canopy set to clip over the front of the sphere to enclose it and make a full tent area of the entrance. All in all, very nice.
Via Anne from My Urban Garden Deco Guide which explores the fast changing world of urban gardens and where you can also read a short piece by me on shedworking.
Now playing: Takuo Yuasa; Ulster Orchestra - Glass: Company - Mvt. 1
via FoxyTunes

Shedworking in the USA

In this weekend's USA Weekend magazine there's a great piece on shedlike atmospheres by Jeffrey Ressner who writes that: "Homeowners squeezed for space are turning to cozy "cabins" they can build in their backyards. These affordable, DIY units are extending our living space like never before." He goes on to say that:
"Prefab cabanas, or "cabins," as people also call them, experienced a resurgence in the 1970s, and in the last few years several companies have popped up selling hip backyard lodgings perfect for art studios, meditation rooms or guest quarters. Keep in mind, however, that traditional "bonus room" additions generally are more sturdy than cool prefab modules and may deliver a better return on investment when reselling your home."
Via Mary's Greened House Building Adventure
Now playing: The Benedictine Monks Of Santo Domingo De Silos - Puer Natus Est Nobis
via FoxyTunes

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Eye Candy - Baumraum

Treehouses are great places to shedwork. Here are some marvellous examples from Bremen-based Baumraum

Now playing: Susan Drake - Arabesque No. 1
via FoxyTunes