Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Shedworking Awards 2013

We've been running our annual prizegiving for literally four years now as an opportunity to give a  pat on the back to those who have made major contributions to the world of shedworking over the last 12 months. And so without further ado let's crack open the first gold envelope...

Best design – As always, it's been a year full of cracking designs. A very worthy runner up was the eco-friendly Exbury Egg in which artist Stephen Turner worked to document the life of the estuary of the River Beaulieu. Congratulations to the large production team who made it happen including Wendy Perring, Darren Bray, Philip Smith, David Bradley, Kristina Broughton, Simon Boxall, Paul Baker, Stephen Payne,  Ben Hart and Mark Drury. But our winner is Renzo Piano's Diogene Cabin, designed by The Shard architect who apparently is a microarchitecture buff. Piano describes it a "voluntary place of retreat" rather like Le Corbusier's Cabanon but acknowledges its shedworkingesque potential by also calling it a 'studiolo'. Nice work Renzo.

Best blog/web site – To be honest, 2013 was not a spectacular year for new blogs or web sites devoted to shedworking, although many familiar faces continued to provide great coverage. The winner in this category is The InsideOut Garden Buildings Guide which transformed itself into a useful and independent spot to find out information about garden buildings in general. Well done to Lynn Fotheringham who edits it and provides useful advice too on Twitter.

Best Tweeter  Frankly, there's an argument that Uncle Wilco is a potential winner in pretty much every category in these awards every year, but this year he excelled himself particularly on Twitter with his innovative Shed a Day updates and clever spots for shed stories which we often followed up here on Shedworking (always attributed of course...). His feed is also notable for the amount of beer-related tweets which is also very welcome.

Best popularisation of shedworking – A joint award this year to the UK Men's Sheds Association which has really grown tremendously and is setting up new sheds on a weekly basis around the nation. We've followed this movement from its origins in Australia and are very pleased indeed to see that it has taken on in the UK so well, thanks to a lot of hard work by all those involved. The second is slightly more frivolous, but we were delighted to see that a garden office feature heavily and regularly in The Politician's Husband mini-series. Where once sheds tended to be portrayed on television as a clich├ęd place for men to 'hide' on their allotments, this series showed how garden offices have very much made it to the mainstream.

Readers' Award – By some distance, George Clarke's Amazing Spaces series on Channel 4 dominated the Shedworking postbag this year. When it was shown, the Shedworking Twitter feed was absolutely deluged with positive remarks about the various builds, not only during the airing but also for some hours afterwards. The book of the show was also excellent and full marks to all concerned (not least for being the first television show to publicly acknowledge help from this blog in its production).

Lifetime achievement award – Kent Griswold has been writing his Tiny House Blog for what - in a good way - seems like centuries (actually, six and a half years). It has an emphasis on small homes in the USA but also patrols the globe for other examples as well as small home lifestyle features and has grown to the point where it now has an actual staff, with Kasey March as copy editor and a regular writer in Christina Nellemann, both of whom also do great jobs. Kent not only runs the site with integrity and intelligence, he's also a decent chap and the award is well deserved.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from Shedworking

“Yo ho, my boys,” said Fezziwig. “No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer. Let’s have the shutters up,” cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, “before a man can say Jack Robinson.”
Shutters open again on December 27. Annual Shedworking awards announced December 31.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Shepherds' Huts & Living Vans: book review

There aren't many books about shepherds' huts out there. In fact, this is the first I've come across that is entirely devoted to these lovely shedworkingesque atmospheres. And it's a corker.

Dave Morris - a hutter himeself - has done a cracking job with this book, Shepherds Huts & Living Vans (Amberley). The illustrations of both interiors and exteriors throughout are excellent, so those swooning over George Clarke's microarchitectural spaces on television these past few weeks will have something else to delight their senses.

But it's also a great read and is a comfortable size to hold in your hands. Dave looks at the history of shepherds' huts, featuring illuminated manuscripts from the 15th century in England, but also spreading his net wide to continental Europe, America, and the Middle East. Other chapters focus on how shepherds lived day-to-day in their huts, showmen's living vans, and how these huts have become popular again, including some practical restoration tips. Some of the suppliers mentioned in the text will be familiar to readers of Shedworking.

It's probably the last book about shedlike buildings to be published this year, and it's certainly my favourite. If you've time to nip out and get a copy before Christmas for a loved one, I can guarantee they'll love it. ----------------------------------------------------------
Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Festive sheds: shepherd's hut

Adding to our festive sheds is this charming shepherd's hut from Dave Morris (whose book we'll be reviewing here tomorrow), his own hut from last year. "If shepherds are about to start watching their flocks by night then what could be more appropriate?" he quite rightly asks.
Homestead Timber Buildings - Manufacturers of Quality Timber Buildings

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fireworks: crowdsourced film project with added sheds

Here's an intriguing film project worthy of your support on indiegogo
Fireworks is a charming indie comedy about a teenage girl, Kat, who runs away from home to find her uncle Gillies, who she has secretly discovered is her real dad. But Gillies, played by the fantastic Ewen Bremner, turns out to have bipolar disorder. Without fully understanding this, Kat hatches a plan for them to make a homemade firework, with Gillies' medication as the essential ingredient.
It also features a rather charming hut, designed by Euan Gray. Here's what the film's director Hannah Robibinson says:
"Not only is Euan creating a unique, cinematic, charming hideaway hut for our film, he has also created this stunning set of hut-inspired artworks to get hut-lovers in the mood for the finished design. The drawings were created by Euan to give a sense of the tone and style of the film, and of the hut itself, and he is generously offering them as perks for contributors to our crowd-funding campaign. For a contribution of £60 or more, you can have this set of 4 prints. The perfect addition to your own hideaway, or the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who longs for a hut of their own."
 But do hurry as there's only a couple of days left to help them out. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, December 16, 2013

Festive sheds: St Albans Christmas Market

Submissions for this year's festive sheds compendium are a little slow in arriving at Shedworking HQ, probably I suspect because of the lack of snow. But if you have put up decorations or a tree or some such, then please don't be shy. To encourage you, here are some photos of the St Albans Christmas Market and its sheds (it runs until the 21st right next to the cathedral - the bratwurst are particularly good). Photos by Loudbird's Sophie Banks.

Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Global surge for shepherds' huts

Blackdown Shepherd Huts have confirmed what we already suspected, that 2014 could be the year of the shepherd's hut. The Somerset-based Blackdown say they will head into 2014 with a 200% booking increase for its luxury, hand-crafted, pre-built huts and self-build, flat-pack, hut kits.

It's certainly been a good year for Blackdown as their Australian operation is now placing its huts in hotel chains, mining operations, healing retreats and vineyard wineries, while on this side of the globe its self-build hut kits have been shipped to Scandinavia, Portugal, Ireland and the Channel Islands.

George Bannister, Blackdown co-founder, said: "2013 has been a great year. We've seen a flood of orders come in from the UK, Australia and around the world. Demand has been so great, we've increased our range of self-build and pre-built hut options and thanks to our growing staff-base are creating a talented employment hub for traditional Somerset skills blended with cutting-edge Blackdown innovation. A 19th century shepherd would never have imagined the luxurious grandeur of a modern shepherd’s hut, with its bespoke electrical and plumbing systems."

Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, December 09, 2013

Starry starry shed

Kicking off our annual look at festive shedworking atmospheres, here's a Swedish mini Sportskabin in Hackney, complete with illuminated star. Garden2office installed the studio for the editor of BBC's The House that £100k built and it features underfloor heating, a built in 5:1 sound system, concealed wiring for a 75in TV, mini garden store and sliding folding doors. And a nice star. -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Shedworking wants your festive sheds

Every year we do a roundup or two of snowy sheds and decorated garden offices. If you're giving your shedlike atmosphere some Christmas sparkle, please do email us a photo.
Photo courtesy The Gingerbread House, based in the ancestral homelands of our staff and who specialise in mail order delicious, hand-baked gourmet gingerbread kits. ----------------------------------------------------------
Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Shepherds' Huts & Living Vans by David Morris

I've not seen a fully copy of this yet but the few pages I've seen look tremendous and I hope to bring you a review next week. David was in Bath last week launching the book and on Saturday he'll be at the Castle Garden Centre, Sherborne, Dorset, with a Plankbridge hut. In the meantime, he has been kind enough to write about his hut experiences for Shedworking's readers:
I guess my association with sheds goes back a long way. Growing up in Somerset on what was the remains of my great uncle's farm (then owned by my mother and father) we had sheds everywhere (bliss). Thanks to my parents' encouraging nature I was allowed to convert an old stable building into a very rudimentary sort of museum shed, collecting all kinds of rural bygones and stuff – effectively I had a shed and a rough museum at the age of 12 (how lucky we were).

The shepherds huts came about 10 years ago. My interest in rural history has never left me and my wife came across an abandoned hut on a Dorset track way. Not any old hut, this was the last hut used at Waterston Manor, and as a Dorset Tour Guide, she instantly recognised the appeal and importance of the hut. We rescued it back to our orchard and then carefully restored it.

Restoration. Now there is an interesting word. I am passionate about keeping as much original material as possible when something is being worked on or repaired. Quite often an object is stripped, polished, painted and re-adorned with countless new components and called a restoration? Rebuilt, refinished, repainted maybe, but not always what I would like to see in a restoration. The Hardy hut as we affectionately call it (Hardy probably never saw the hut, but you know how these things attract a name) has been very sympathetically restored keeping as much original material as possible.

My museum conservation skills have brought a lot of techniques and modern potions into play on the hut and enabled us to preserve original tin and timber that many people would probably have discarded thinking it was not saveable. You can’t save everything, but you can save more than you might think, for a lot longer than you would think, and I think that is important.

Hut two came a couple of years later, again found abandoned in a Dorset farm yard. I suppose this is where the book idea came from. I was beginning to write more in my museum curatorial position and was also reading more and more articles on shepherds’ huts that were not accurate. There was also a common trend beginning to form that everything with a curved tin roof and a wheel nailed to each corner was ‘a shepherds’ hut’. This was becoming frustrating and several people (notably my wife and several close friend rural life museum curators) encouraged me to get on and write the book, so I guess it all fell out of that.

I had been collecting hut related stuff for some years, had some background knowledge from my farming days, knew and had met people that had used shepherds huts, so I suppose I had a head start. I also know, and have access to, a lot or archives and collections that has undoubtedly helped find a lot of interesting early material. The book (I hope) gives and insight into shepherds’ huts and also clarifies the difference between these and other similar huts (road roller huts, steam threshing crew huts, etc) describing not only how they differ in design, but also how they were used by their occupants on a daily basis.

We all enjoy our huts today (mostly recreationally) but I think it is important not to forget that these were once people's real workplaces and often operating in very tough conditions on the knife edge of financial success or failure. I think some people may also be fascinated to see some of the very early references to shepherds huts that I have been able to research, particularly the illuminated manuscript images from the 1400s. 
Homestead Timber Buildings - Manufacturers of Quality Timber Buildings

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Cardboard shedworking

An interesting article on Wired looks at the Danbocchi Personal Soundproof Cardboard Studio which, as it is made out of cardboard (albeit reinforced), is probably best for interior shedworking. Not only handy, it also reduces noise levels by 30 decibels in case you start shouting at your laptop. Features include ventilation, a table and a cable hole. One drawback is its size - 3.6ft x 2.6ft x 5.4ft). Another for some would be that it's self-assembly with instructions in Japanese. Wired are reporting that it's sold out at the moment although Japan Trend Shop has some at a hefty markup, roughly double the origianl $580 price. -----------------------------------------------------
Wednesday posts are sponsored by The Stable Company®, the UK's premier supplier of garden offices and garden rooms. Click here

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Sixth annual Brighton beach hut advent calendar

The fine folk at Beyond Church in Brighton are once again putting on their excellent beach hut advent calendar during December. We've reported on this since the very start (and one year on a daily basis in conjunction with The Independent newspaper which was frankly a bit exhausting) so we're delighted to see them still going strong. 

This year, the theme is the 'Alphabet of Advent'  (except X and Z) up to Y for Yuletide on Christmas Eve, on the seafront in a different beach hut every night from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.  Pictured above is last night's hut - B for Brighton & Hove - put together by local artist Nick Sayers via imagery collected by his pinhole cameras around the area over the last six months. We'll be reporting back again for occasional visits later this month...
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, December 02, 2013

Underwater shedworking

OK, so the Underwater Room at The Manta Resort near Pemba Island, Tanzania, may not technically be a garden office, but we salute its shedlike atmosphere and especially its bedroom which is four metres below the surface, a fabulous alternative workplace.
Via and my school latin master Robin Peach -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.