Back Yard Sheds and Shacks
Images Courtesy of Hoachlander Davis Photography
In 2002, architect Jeff Broadhurst of Broadhurst Architects in Rockville, had a vision come true in the wilds of West Virginia. “I always had dreams of owning mountain property and we finally got the chance,” he says. Broadhurst settled on 27 acres near a place called Upper Tract, which is 175 miles from his house. The plot contains a barn that Broadhurst wants to rehab at some point and a bona fide haunted farmhouse that his family refuses to sleep in. Tent camping with his wife and two daughters got old fast.
Design by Jeff Broadhurst Architects
Broadhurst used a chicken coop for inspiration and conceived a simple space with a wood stove, sink, card table, sleeping quarters, a rain barrel for showers, and varmint-proof closets. An overhead garage door fitted with glass panels separates the shack from the great outdoors and an awning controls the sun. The family makes a pilgrimage to the shack once a month, weather permitting. When Broadhurst shows pictures of the building to people they always say the same thing, “Hey, I’d like one of those myself.”
A few years ago Janet Bloomberg and her partner Richard Loosle-Ortega of Kube Architecture in the District, took a phone call from a TV producer doing a show about garages. “The goal was to take an existing garage and make them over,” says Bloomberg, “but when it was finished it couldn’t be a garage anymore.” The designers were told to turn a garage in Bethesda into a practice space for the homeowner’s band. They were given a limited budget and three days for construction. The garage that was on the site had to be demolished.
Image Courtesy of Kube Architecture
Kube pivoted the opening of the new building so it faced the backyard which created a performance space. They cut slots resembling piano keys in a side wall and covered them with clear Plexiglas to bring in light. Corrugated metal sheathed the front façade and maple plywood was used on the rest. A sliding barn-style door was installed and storage for amps and gear was added inside. Acoustical foam was laid between the rafters in concern for the neighbors. The end result was a number one hit with the homeowners. “They loved it says,” Bloomberg, “they really did, it was totally genuine.”
Sigi Koko, principal of Build Naturally based in DC, likes to design houses made from bales of straw. Yes, straw. The bales are stacked around a timber frame and are then covered in plaster. Koko teaches workshops on how to do this but a few summers ago she didn’t have a site for her new project. As luck would have it, a tree fell on her mother’s garden shed in Pennsylvania creating the perfect site for a straw bale shed – except her mom didn’t want it replaced. “The old shed was rickety, groundhogs lived in it and it was full of spiders,” says Koko.
Image and Design by Down To Earth Design
Koko eventually convinced her mom that the new shed would be much better and finally sealed the deal by including storage space for ladders. The architect began with a rubble trench foundation and used windows salvaged from a previous house restoration. Straw bale workshop students supplied the labor and since Koko’s mother works with native plants, a living roof was the only way to go. “They absolutely love the new shed,” says Koko, “I get frequent phone updates about what’s happening on the roof, my mom calls saying, ‘the roof has blue flowers on it.’” So as you can see, even a humble shed can be a thing of beauty.
Text and images originally appeared in the February/March 2009 issue of Chesapeake Home Magazine.
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