Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Grass Roof Company

Joining Garden History Girl on our list of top sites discovered in 2008 (maybe there should be some annual Shedworking awards?) is The Grass Roof Company run by brothers John and Robert Little. We all know why green roofs are so great - eco-friendly, great for insulation, nice to look at - and TimeOut even suggests they are one of the 2008 gardening trends. The site is full of the most marvellous pictures of living roofs/green roofs including numerous shedlike atmospheres and I can't recommend browsing through it enough - on your way around, look out in particular for the summer house at Orsett Heath, the posh shed in Shenfield, the One Tree Hill Shelter and the Turf Room Garden Room. John adds that, in collaboration with Dusty Gedge of he is in the process of producing a PDF sheet with practical info on building your own green roof from scratch. The company also run green roof building courses.

Caption competition

Here is a marvellous space installation by Stano Masar called Doors, erected in Norrebro Park, Copenhagen. I have a lovely shiny new copy of Emma Jones' equally marvellous new book Spare Room Start Up to give away to the person who provides the caption which makes me laugh most.

Online tour of a Tumbleweed House

Several readers have pointed out that Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Houses has now put together a tour of one of his shedlike homes. Click and enjoy!

For those of you unfamiliar with Jay's wonderful work, here's how he describes it:
"Since 1997 I have been living in a house smaller than some people's closets. I call the first of my little hand built houses Tumbleweed. My decision to inhabit just 100 square feet arose from some concerns I had about the impact a larger house would have on the environment, and because I do not want to maintain a lot of unused or unusable space. My houses have met all of my domestic needs without demanding much in return. The simple, slower lifestyle my homes have afforded is a luxury for which I am continually grateful."

The Small House Society newsletter

We've mentioned this marvellous society before, part of the larger Resources for Life organistion, dedicated to the promotion of smaller housing alternatives which can be more affordable and ecological, and now it's even easier to keep up with what they're up to as their newsletters are posted directly to the interweb. The latest one is here and includes details of this year's The Small House Society conference amongst plenty of other items of interest (including a nice plug for Shedworking). Well worth a browse.

Shedworking nominated for blog award

The first annual Fork'n Monkey Blog Awards organised by everybody's favourite guerilla gardening blogger The Garden Monkey are attracting considerable attention. Shedworking is honoured to be nominated in two categories - Is There Anybody Out There? (for blogs which celebrate an aspect of life that is usually unappreciated by the general population with a whiff of gardens about them) and You're My Favourite Waste Of Time (for the most entertaining gardening web site, not necessarily the most practical one). There's still time to vote - voting closes May 16 - and it's extremely easy and even anonymous should you chose. So if you want to see Shedworking's name up in lights (or of course somebody else's, we won't cry) then please nip along and vote.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can shedworking damage your health?

We all know that traditional offices are unhealthy in many ways, but new research funded by household cleaning specialists The Clorox Company suggests home office surfaces are literally cluttered with millions of potentially illness-inducing bacteria. Folk in white coats led by the University of Arizona’s Dr. Charles Gerba compared bacteria levels on common office surfaces in both home office and traditional office environments and apparently the homeworkers' surfaces came off second best - four times as many bacteria were found on home desktops compared to traditional desktops.

“Surprisingly high germ levels in home offices may be due to the fact that people think their homes are already clean, or that the germs in their home offices are just their own and therefore harmless,” Gerba said. “But, regardless of whose they are, there’s a chance the germs can make you sick.”Gerba recommends frequent handwashing and, no surprises here, using disinfecting wipes daily on hard, nonporous surfaces in your cubicle or office to kill germs. Make yourself feel less at risk by reading some of Clorox's other research on unhealthy traditional offices here where he suggests women have more bacteria-ridden desks than men (which I find very hard to believe).

Montlake Studio

The Montlake Studio comes from Bosworth Hoedemaker, a former garage being turned into a studio with storage for books and lots of natural light. A small bathroom is also included. According to the architects:
"The back yard has been carefully redesigned to provide spaces for the dog, the garden, and outdoor living. Together these indoor and outdoor spaces create an extended living space that makes the most of a smaller house and lot."
I also rather like the look of their tower for Kittitas County House which has an underground wine cellar, space on the ground level for storage, and sleeping benches on the top floor.

Garden power station

According to Anne at My Urban Garden Deco Guide, Philippe Starck is showing his designs for a personal wind power station in Milan including this one which will be available in six sizes. Looks quite shedlike to me.

Blacksheep House up for design award

Blacksheep House, the converted shed we featured recently, is up for a Grand Designs Award. Owner Christine Hope writes:
"We were really pleased to see our house, Blacksheep House on your site, and thought you may be interested in voting for us in the Grand Designs Home of the Year Competition. Blacksheep House has been entered for the conversion category which will be broadcast at 8.05 next Sunday (May 4) - there is a short film about the house and then a public vote. If we get voted as the best conversion we will be through to the final on Friday 9th so we need every one to vote for us!"

Artist seeks hut

Artist seeks hut, shed, or similar to borrow/rent for a new piece for Whitstable Biennale. Must be close to beach and available from the 16-22 June. Equally interested in delapidated and pristine options. Please get in touch. Thanks! Beatty. Email me here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Choosing a shed - Garden Lodges

Bedfordshire-based Garden Lodges have a range of garden office models as well as rather larger marketing suites. But what really caught my eye was their Micro Pod and if you're after a garden office to fit into a rather small space, this could be for you. The smallest is theirMicro Pod i64 (pictured above and below) at a really rather titchy 1.83m x 1.22m and comes with a built-in desk. There is also a solar power option. Garden Lodges has also recently joined up with Jacuzzi UK to provide new hydrotherapy centres across the UK.

Eco Hab/Pod

We've mentioned Aidan Quinn's smashing Eco Hab pod before on Shedworking (though under its former name). But the excellent Kits and Mortar blog points out that there is now a virtual tour available on their site. Well worth a nose around.

Universally accessible treehouses

There's a great piece at Mental Floss about universally accessible treehouses, focusing particularly on the work of Forever Young Treehouses who build many such commendable shedlike structures. Pictured above is an example from the article, Everybody’s Treehouse built last year at Mt. Airy Forest in Cincinnnati, Ohio, and you can see lots more pictures and details at the special blog charting its progress.
Thanks to The Garden Monkey.


For some shedworking on the move, how about trying out the Shellhouse by Carolina Pino made of cardboard. However, it's really mobile housing for the homeless, or as Carolina puts it 'Collapsible Cardboard Shelters Using Radio Devices for Unsheltered Homeless Persons'. Here's what she says:
"Having an address is how we exist on society, how we become citizens, where we can be located, where we receive our mail, where our family and friends can contact us. A house is where we validate this existence in the physical space. A shelter that gives us protection, our intimate space. Inhabitable collapsible structure made of cardboard becomes a shelter able to provide an address to a defined group of unsheltered homeless persons, by means of radio devices, proposing a way to make them visible. By using existing social networks is possible to DIY for someone else."
There are lots of instructions on the site about exactly how to build one yourself.
Via designboom

Garden Shed - 21 Acres

We featured 21 Acres' marvellous outhouse in last week's regular Thursday Outhouses slot and here's their equally delightful Garden Shed. It's a great shedworking space with not only storage capacity for equipment and a gardener's reference library but also a useful informal meeting place. Best of all it was built with recycled materials and features geo-thermal radiant heat soon to be powered by solar panels. Naturally, it also has a green roof. Architectural drawings above, the shed itself below.Thanks to Bill Kratz.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Subscribe to Shedworking by email

Just a quick note to say that a few readers have mentioned that they've been having problems with the RSS feed. While this seems an uncommon problem, I've added a different way to subscribe: simply add your email in the box on the top of the right hand column, press subscribe and then every day you'll receive an email with that day's posts.

Oor Wullie - Shed of the Year winner?

Some shedlike nostalgia, courtesy James Alexander-Sinclair, featuring Oor Wullie. I wonder if The Broons had a shed? Click on the picture to see it at readable size.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chez Jean Oddes

As the old saying says, two sheds are better than one, and here's a very nice 27 m² one indeed to end the week from Jean Oddes with deck between them for outdoor fun, featured in Marie Claire Maison. Above is Le coin lecture of the 'mini résidence' which MCM describes like this:
"A l'arrière de la cabane-chambre, on a percé une porte et installé sur de larges équerres fixées à la façade, un auvent qui sert de salon de lecture. Comme une tente, la toile est maintenue par des ficelles et des sardines. Les toits de shingle et de toile se succèdent, dans un esprit mi-tente mi-maison."
As they say, petit budget, grande ingéniosité.Via materialicious and remodelista

Around the shedworld

Chief Home Officeroffers 10 signs which show you're shedworking too much... Home Office Warrior has got the shedworking bug... The Independent explains why we love trees/wood... Dwell blog points out that prefab is a must at all design gatherings... The Guardian shows how you can mix homeworking with caring... Shedblog points to more beach hut madness and goes all Spice Girls on us... Does the glassbox count as a garden office?... materialicious is all spruced up (and likes boathouses)... HomeWorker is making rainbows...this might not be the best way to apply for planning permission for your shed, however frustrating the process is... bytestart has a nice little introduction to working from a garden office... National Shed Week is coming soon including the photo competition (entry pictured above)...

Eye Pod

More of a shedrelaxing then strictly shedworking space, the Eye Pod at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska (now at the city's Science Museum as an outdoor exhibit), is nevertheless a rather lovely build. An entry in the Arboretum's Secret Gardens competition (inspired by the book), it's a walk-in camera obscura designed by the excellent Cermak Rhoades Architects and built with the collaboration of Frerichs Construction Company, Mattson Macdonald Yound Structural Engineers and Scherer Bros. Lumber.A Bill Kratz spot.

Keep your garden office safe

For some reason, police forces around the country seem to get together about this time of year to launch their annual campaigns against shed theft (West Yorkshire Police's Shedache poster is pictured above - shedache, get it?). But more power to their elbow, nonetheless. Although they usually concentrate on the more traditional type of shed rather than the garden office, their warnings that you need to be careful still stand. So check your locks (doors and windows), postcode your property (where applicable), consider an alarm/automatic lighting system and generally take a good hard look at how easy/difficult it would be for a baddie to force their way into your pride and joy. It is also worth having a word with your local police and asking them if they could come round and give you some advice. If anybody has a good tip regarding security, please leave a comment.

Fictional sheds - Notes from an exhibition

There's no doubt that shed-lit is on the up. There's Pauline Rowson of course, Mark Haddon's recent offering, and now there's also the Richard & Judy pick Notes from an exhibition by Patrick Gale. It's a story of Rachel, a painter, and her Quaker family in Cornwall (that doesn't really do it justice, it's an excellent read) and naturally Rachel has a studio, latterly in an attic, but early on in a converted outbuilding which had once been a laundry and a greenhouse but also a general dumping ground. Here's how it's transformed:
"Jack helped her clear it out and sweep away decades of cobwebs. They spent two days sloshing its walls with whitewash, cleaned the window with vinegar, moved back in the decrepit chaise longue they had been forced to put out for the dustmen and suddenly she had a studio almost better than his purpose-built one on the edge of Newlyn."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Choosing a shed - More Space UK

While England is pretty well covered with garden office suppliers, the same cannot be said for Scotland. A notable exception is More Space UK who use use only Canadian Red Cedar Imported from British Columbia for their builds (one reason they give is that it smells nice when wet) which they describe as "designed & tested in Scotland to withstand all weather conditions possible". As well as the normal must-haves, More Space also offer to install an alarm system and CCTV to protect your shed. Above is their smallest model, The Mayfair, with a working floor area of 3sq metres, French doors, deck, and underfloor heating. Below is the largest model, The Sheridan, which includes a kitchen and shower.

Meditation Huts

Following the excitement caused in some quarters by the Meditator featured yesterday, some fine examples of the meditating hut species by Jeffery Poss of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois, Meditation Huts I and II. Above, wood framework during construction. Below, exteriors (from the meadow and after spring rain) and tatami room interior.A Bill Kratz eyecatcher.

Knowing when to turn off

An interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Lucinda Schmidt looks at the importance of knowing when you've done enough shedworking and you should go and do something else instead. Most of the piece is an interview with life-work balance expert Linda Duxbury who says she works 55 to 60 hours a week but has strict rules to separate her work and family life, never working at weekends or holidays, taking regular long weekends with her family, never using a BlackBerry or mobile phone and never answering calls during dinner. Although she doesn't say anything about lunch. Well worth a browse.

Thursday Outhouses - 21 Acres

The 21 Acres Center is "an innovative, community-driven project that serves as an agricultural and environmental learning center for people of all ages". And as you'd expect, the 21 Acres Outhouse - architectural sketch above - is not only a lovely design it fits the organisation's mission statement on sustainability since it has a composting toilet (naturally), is powered by solar panels and collects rainwater in barrels. As they say: "The Outhouse will provide a natural waste treatment system that will save water, money, and return beneficial soil additives to the land beneath it."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Seattle shed

One part of Diana and Tim Hammer’s larger cottage remodel involved turning an old 10-by-12-foot shed (120 square feet is the maximum structure size that can be built without a permit in Seattle) in their Ballard backyard into an attractive free-standing guest room/office, using mostly reclaimed and donated materials, including French doors, oak floors and oversized windows.
Seattle Magazine
A Bill Kratz spot.

Off-shedworking: blog-tagged

I've been tagged by Steve Stack (in fact, I've been tagged twice within 24 hours so I'll do the second one tomorrow) and asked to write down six random things about myself which are, in no particular order,:

1 - My favourite sandwich filling is cheese and apple
2 - The most expensive book I've ever bought cost £100
3 - My party piece is a trick with my tongue which makes it look like I'm twisting it round more than 360 degrees (it's better than it sounds and is not at all vulgar)
4 - I am a half-decent snooker player
5 - I only discovered that I have naturally curly hair at the age of 18
6 - Opera singer Lesley Garrett sang an aria down the phone to me while I was interviewing her

And now I have to tag six other bloggers so I shall nominate:

The Garden Monkey

Uncle Wilco


Mary's Greened House Building Adventure

Emma Jones@Enterprise Nation

Mother at Large

And I am supposed to include the rules:
Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of your post linking to their blog.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.


"This project was conceived to make it easier for all of us to satisfy our need for occasional moments of private contemplation. Enter the Meditator and surround yourself with the graphics which cover its walls, and something begins to happen to you almost at once.

"It’s difficult to predict, but you may find the sensation akin to that mystical communion with nature that you experience when alone in a forest—or the sense of peace you feel in an empty cathedral. Or you may develop sudden insights as you study the picture-fragments of your world—and be swept by the conviction that you’re “getting it all together” at last.

"Far back into history. For the design of the Meditator, I’ve gone to the ancient Greeks and borrowed one of the polyhedrons they first visualized— the 12-sided dodecahedron, each face of which is a perfect pentagon. The Pythagoreans called it the “atomic building block of the Universe.”
Ken Isaacs

From the pages of Popular Science as seen on the excellent Modern Mechanix via boing boing

Rolling Summer House/Timber Talent South West: Architecture for the 21st Century

The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World is a marvellous organisation which aims to:
* develop new understandings through the work of contemporary artists which explores the social, environmental and scientific issues involved in our changing relationship to nature.
* create new art and art practice by supporting artists to respond to the wider historical and cultural constructions of 'nature'.
* increase access to the contemporary arts by breaking down barriers to public engagement.

From April 26 until July 13, they'll be running their annual Timber Talent South West: Architecture for the 21st Century exhibition (free admission) as part of their year-long Wood Culture festival which celebrates all things woodish.Timber Talent features 16 inspiring recent examples of the use of timber in contemporary architecture. As an example of what you can expect, here's the Rolling Summer House by Charlie Whinney from the wonderful but sadly no longer with us sixixis which created "unique and exciting pieces using local unseasoned timber". It appeared in the exhibition two years ago. Their web site is still up however and well worth a browse.
Thanks to Annie Leymarie for the alert.

Children Need Sheds Too - Wrights Sheds

Essex-based Wrights Sheds make a range of shedlike structures (summerhouses, sheds, cabins, gazebos) as well as some nice traditional playhouses. As well as private clients, they have also supplied a number of schools including Pilgrims Hatch Infants, Grove Primary School, Rayleigh Primary School and Thundersley Infant School. I particularly like the Sheriff's Office model pictured above but also their Tudor gazebo, a six sided summerhouse, below.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A James Alexander-Sinclair shed

We mentioned some of James Alexander-Sinclair's sheds earlier in the week and here's one of his lovely designs, sadly not yet off the drawing board, but which can still be enjoyed at Matt Byron Petch's excellent site here in 3D animated form. What Shedworking most likes about this is, of course, that it rotates. George Bernard Shaw would have approved.

Beach huts, St James, South Africa

the beach huts at st. james

Kolonilott diary – all hands on deck

Warm weekends make for shedworking and that’s what the Swedish furniture designer and craftsman Lasse Claesson thought as he awoke on Saturday morning, writes Shedworking's northern Europe correspondent Sy Willmer. For the second instalment of a Scandinavian allotment shed diary we bring you the deck and patio door installation.

Having removed the jerry-built 1970s extension from his 1920s vintage shed, Lasse set about installing the slab foundations and sun deck. No deck is complete without a set of opening doors on to it. True to his environmental commitment, Lasse is endeavouring to use reclaimed and secondhand materials wherever possible with this project. The retro fit doors seen here were purchased as secondhand and have an interesting history of their own, being formally stage props from the local SVT Swedish television studios.

The deck is in fact new timber, to ensure longevity, but the traditional “lock panel” sidings you see that have been removed shall be turned and refitted. Further to this Lasse has removed a non original window and with the waste material from the new doors, that had to be cut down considerably, he has fabricated a more traditional smaller single glass unit more in keeping with the shed’s classic look. Next stage is to continue work on the structural timber and the fitting of doors and windows. Fingers crossed it’s a long hot summer and the shed does not need to be weatherproofed for a few months yet...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Home observatory

Here's a follow-up to our recent look at shedlike observatories, a home observatory from Wendy Evans Joseph Architecture in Ghent, New York, set rather splendidly in hayfields. Open cedar slats on the outside, maple plywood sheeting on the inside, all on top of a concrete pier.A Bill Kratz spot.

Der Spiegel features Bookshelf blog

Der Spiegel's online site is sending lots of German bookshelf fans to the Bookshelf blog today thanks to a nice little feature in their web roundup section. If your German is not ganz schlecht, then you can watch the selection here.

Choosing a shed - Compton Buildings

Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder but to be honest, I can't say that Compton's concrete garden buildings do much for me. However, you may quite rightly beg to differ. As they say, Compton's buildings are built to last, are virtually maintenance-free, are not going to burn down (a major consideration for shedworkers like myself whose garden office is stuffed to the gills with paper) and are very secure. If this is the kind of thing you like, then do have a look around. Personally, I prefer their timber smoke shelters.