The Shed Project was a competition for young architects, providing an opportunity for recent architecture graduates to realise a design project from conception to completion. Hauser & Wirth Somerset invited participants to design an original out-building to be used by creative practitioners working with the gallery as part of its residency programme. The competition asked for innovative, contemporary proposals for a new concept to replace an existing out-building attached to The Maltings – the studio buildings used by the gallery’s artists-in-residence in Bruton town centre.
Hauser & Wirth Somerset welcomed applications from individuals or multi-disciplinary teams of up to four members. There had to be at least one architect on each team. All architects had to be under the age of 35 and currently studying, or recently completed RIBA Part 3 Architecture. Equivalent qualifications were accepted from non-UK based applicants. The gallery received 365 registrations and 95 eligible applications from as far afield as Ethiopia, Texas and New York to as local as Bruton and Bath.
The Shortlisted Finalists:
1. Alex Bank, Sam Casswell and Tom Graham – ‘The Garden Rooms’
2. Coleen O’Boyle, Nick Keen, Holly Barker and George Bister – ‘The Light Box’
3. Jonathan Chan – ‘The Shed’
4. SGHS – ‘Homo Faber’s Room’
5. Rhys Nicholas, Charlotte Madgwick, Timothy Tan and Mark McEvoy – ‘The Garden Room: An Artist Retreat’
6. ME & SAM – ‘The Shed Project’
7. William Sherlaw – ‘The Shed Project’
The winner was announced at an open event on 20 June 2015 in the Radić Pavilion. The seven short-listed finalists each presented their proposals to a panel of judges, which included writer and collector, Niall Hobhouse; journalist, critic and curator, Justin McGuirk; and artist, Richard Wentworth. The panel was chaired by Edward Workman, Director of Global Property, Hauser & Wirth. Questions were also taken from a public audience, which included luminaries from the world of architecture including Annabelle Selldorf and Adolfo Natalini. Following a morning of presentations, the judges announced that their chosen project was from Alex Bank, Sam Casswell and Tom Graham, who were appointed to develop their proposal ‘The Garden Rooms’ with a budget of £25,000 for materials and construction. They also received an honorarium of £1,000.
The Garden Rooms and the Winning Team
The winning proposal ‘The Garden Rooms’ focused on enhancing the synergy between the existing building, the garden and the proposed outbuilding.
Alex Bank was a former collaborator in the Architecture Research Unit, London lead by Professor Florian Beigel and Philip Christou and Sam Casswell spent over eight years at Caruso St John Architects. Alex and Sam are design tutors at the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University, and have led undergraduate design Studio 1 since 2013. In 2015, after winning the Shed Project, Alex and Sam began Casswell Bank Architects, based in Kings Cross, London.
Tom Graham is a carpenter and furniture maker based in Frome who founded the Tom Graham Workshop, in 2009. Tom has an architectural background having completed his Professional Diploma in Architecture at London Metropolitan University.
The original shed was demolished during October 2015. Construction of ‘The Garden Rooms’ continued to develop with the winning team alongside Hauser & Wirth staff and a local carpenter. The new timber structure will be unveiled at The Shed Party & Open Studios on 28 June 2016.
The Garden Rooms Design Vision and Construction
The building offers two new spaces integrated within one overall structure to compliment those currently on offer to the artist in residence. Each new room has its own spatial character and relationship to the garden space it addresses.
The larger room is a robust and flexible space that is semi-open to the outside. It could be inhabited in a number of ways as an external studio for making art works in the fresh air, a pavilion for garden events or as productive space for gardening. A number of figurative timber columns with folding shutters and a single pitched roof address the more formal
gardens and road connecting Bruton with the countryside.
The ‘cabinet’, a tiny room with the atmosphere of a pub snug or inglenook, provides an intimate space for writing or drawing. It is big enough for two people to sit together around a desk and window built into one corner. The river Brue is glimpsed through a secluded, bosky orchard garden of old fruit trees. The interior finishes and joinery are finer in the cabinet room than elsewhere.
The outhouse is deliberately separated from the studio building to embrace that special characteristic common to sheds – of removing one’s self from usual situations and intimately connecting to the outside. The shed does not aim to be a perfect object building but something more like the friendly structure of an allotment shed built in an ad hoc way over time.
The materials are familiar but brought together in unexpected ways; the facade is articulated as if the shed has been turned inside out with the larch timber structure expressed and shifting fields of woven timber slats lining the interior of the larger room; a corrugated cement sheet roof often used on agricultural buildings is cut at an angle to follow the irregular plan creating a frayed eave. It’s this combination of controlled awkward moments with a few special touches like turquoise coloured steel feet or the oversized roof light that bring a tension to the overall composition and make the shelter more convivial.
A shed painting event later this year will see the exterior surface of the rough sawn timber treated with a deep red oxide oil paint to protect it from the weather, but also give the building a more festive appearance. It is hoped the new shed might provide impetus for a number of light touch garden moves in the future that enhance the existing characteristics of the surrounding gardens to make a series of more distinctive garden rooms.