The Potting Shed was designed for a ceramicist and keen gardener living in Walthamstow, who wanted to create a warm and inviting space that could double up as a workshop as well as a snug.
‘Appointing architects on a low-cost project may seem extravagant but their clever use of materials and advice has resulted in a bespoke design unachievable without their support,’ said the homeowner. ‘I now work three days a week in the studio, often with local makers.’
While the common belief is that architects charge exorbitant rates, this project cost under £20,000 in total, including the professional fees. The architects made the most of salvaged materials where they could, stretching the possibilities of the client’s modest budget.
‘The windows were an old model from a manufacturer’s display that were being replaced, and the plywood was offcuts from a much larger project,’ explained Tom Grey, partner at Grey Griffiths Architects. ‘I think we were quite lucky, as the only cost for those materials was for the client arranging to transport them. Our client was extremely good at speaking to suppliers to find out what they had going spare and persuading them to part with it! It made the project all the more interesting as we had effectively a kit of parts around which we had to adapt the design.’
By using ex-display windows and doors, which are usually one of the most costly items of a project like this, the architects managed to save a large amount of money. Even a little cosmetic damage means that high-quality products such as these from Senior Architectural Systems can’t be resold, so it was a great opportunity to use something that was classed as waste.
It’s also often the case that offcuts of plywood from large construction projects are left after the sheets have been cut to size – these are difficult to resell and a lot would be wasted, so using these offcuts for the exterior cladding and internal walls made the most a material that would have otherwise been destined for the skip.
This area of Walthamstow is a well-known hub for creatives and also has a rich industrial heritage, which inspired the shed‘s design. The low-rise pitched roof, matt-black finish and clean lines mimic the architectural style of the nearby factories, while the patchwork of exposed ply inside adds warmth to the interior, creating a relaxing atmosphere for working and making.
It was important that the 18 square-metre Potting Shed didn’t take over the client’s much-loved garden, so the project has been scaled to a modest size to nestle into its existing habitat, enveloped by a mature apple tree. Tucked away to the rear of the studio is a generous storage space for garden items and logs for the wood-burning stove inside.
‘The Potting Shed uses waste materials throughout to form a new, meaningful space. It shows how inventive architecture and resourcefulness can make design attainable to those on a tight budget,’ said Grey.
Since the build, the client has named the ceramic studio after the project – check out Black Shed Ceramics’ Instagram here. To see other projects by Grey Griffiths Architects, visit the firm’s website here.