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5.0 out of 5 stars
The shedworkers bible, 9 Jun 2010
The shed has a very special place in British life. Many of the great writers and inventors have had a shed where they practised their art. Today, the shed has become something different. With a move to more home-based working, and with space at a premium in most peoples' homes, the humble garden shed has become an office space that many micro businesses are now working out of.
Alex Johnson has tracked the development of the shed as a working environment for several years via his blog shedworking.co.uk. Now internationally renowned as the hub around which all shedworkers now orbit, Alex has put pen to paper with his first book that opens the door on the history of the shed as an office or studio, and showcases some of the best in contemporary shed design.
Shedworking begins with a brief history of the shed and the people that have adopted these small garden rooms as their working or leisure spaces. Famous shedworkers such as Henry Moore and Roald Dahl, plus shedworkers you may not be aware of are covered including Peter Gabriel and the fantasy writer Neil Gaiman and his gazebo are covered, as are a plethora of other businesses that use traditional and ultra modern sheds to house their workforces.
But it's the home-based businesses that shine through in this book. The garden shed has now evolved into a piece of architecture in its own right. Specialised companies now number in the dozens, all supplying custom designed garden escapes for those lucky enough to have abandoned the commute and settled into the more idyllic life of working from home.
And it's these micro businesses that have sprung up over the last few years that have fuelled this renaissance in shedworking. From graphic designers to accountants, every possible type of small business is now run from a garden shed. But to call many of these new structures simply sheds is clearly an injustice. Some of the world's most innovative architects have turned their considerable talents to designing small working buildings. They may not call them sheds, but for British eyes, they are just that.
It is astonishing after completing Alex's book to realise that anyone that has plans to run their own business from home, yet has little space in which to do so, can quickly and easily embrace shedworking as the perfect solution to their problem. The market for garden offices has grown to the point where you can buy just the space you need off-the-shelf from many companies.
The pages of Shedworking are littered with traditional sheds and über designs that wouldn't be out of place in the Tate Modern - and in fact, shed design has been praised in these cathedrals to modern design. Page-after-page in this book illustrates that domestic working spaces are now becoming commonplace. And if you have ambitions to build your own garden office, and entire chapter is devoted to this end.
But it's the chapter on the people that invite us into their sheds that really make the reader sit up and take notice of this quiet revolution. The shed in British life has often been ridiculed, but what is clear in this book is that these new environments are light years away from the damp drafty buildings that many people remember from their childhood.
Today's garden offices are built from sustainable hi-tech materials that can offer anyone that wants to work from home the opportunity to create their perfect working environment, without taking up precious space in their homes. And one of the central themes in this book is that you can create a building from materials that won't harm the environment, are cost effective and enable you to erect a building that seamlessly blends with your garden. However, some of the more designer `pods' do offer the chance to create a building that is in stark contrast to its surroundings.
And what of the future? With several million people already working from home, and with even more contemplating the move for various reasons, shedworking will continue to grow. The design of small spaces has always been popular with architects the world over. Today, the compact and efficient working space now has a ready market that many companies are eager to supply.
The blog that Alex maintains illustrates that the garden office is here to stay. Ultra modern designs rub shoulders with more traditional spaces that won't cost the earth to buy and install. If you're thinking of creating an office space or a creative haven, this book will not only provide you with all the tools you need to chose the right garden office for your needs, it will also inspire you to join the legions of shedworkers that are already reaping the rewards of working from home in their garden offices or studios.