The 2022 'Shed of the Year' Is a House of Doors

The annual competition winner is the first in the budget category.

Potting Shed in Allotment Garden

Kelly Haworth / Readershed

Every year we cover the wonderfully quirky British Cuprinol Shed of the Year competition. Most years, I disagree with the judges about their choice of the top prize, thinking them too fancy or too big. I tend to like the ones that remind me of Bernard Rudofsky's "Architecture without Architects," where he wrote: "There is much to learn from architecture before it became an expert's art. The untutored builders in space and time demonstrate an admirable talent for fitting their buildings into the natural surroundings. Instead of trying to 'conquer' nature, as we do, they welcome the vagaries of climate and the vagaries of topography."

There is no disagreement this year, where the winner is pure Rudofsky and pure Treehugger.

Kelly Haworth with Cuprinol Prize
Kelly Haworth with the Cuprinol Prize.

Kelly Haworth / Readersheds

Kelly Haworth built "The Potting Shed" entirely out of second-hand materials. It's the first time in the 16 years of the competition that a "budget" category entry has won the top prize.

Competition founder and head judge Andrew Wilcox noted that the shed is made from old doors, pallet wood, and other recycled materials found on Facebook Marketplace and around Haworth's home. The 2-by-3 meter (about 6.5-by-10 foot) budget-friendly shed took only five weeks to complete and cost around 200 pounds sterling ($231, at 0.87 pounds sterling to the dollar) to create.

Interior with Toilet

Kelly Haworth / Readersheds

It is also in an allotment: "In the UK, allotments are small parcels of land rented to individuals usually for the purpose of growing food crops. There is no set standard size, but the most common plot is 10 rods, an ancient measurement equivalent to 302 square yards."

Being separate from Haworth's home, the shed has all the comforts: a kitchenette, a potting area, tool storage, and a composting toilet.

view to doors at side

Kelly Haworth / Readersheds

These are tough times in the United Kingdom, with terrible inflation and some food shortages. So it is particularly nice to see that the winner is not some fancy upscale work-from-home shed but one in an allotment—they played a big role in the "Dig for Victory" years of the World Wars—where people grow their own food.

Wilcox noted: "Kelly’s Potting Shed really impressed us with the use of second-hand materials. It just feels right with the current cost of living crisis to crown someone so cost-savvy as the winner."

View straight through to potting area

Kelly Haworth

Personally, I was captivated by the clever reuse of doors, which are basically architectural elements designed around people and are mostly similar in size and shape. There is a reason the device used to test buildings' air tightness, the blower door, evolved from the original invention, the blower window: Doors are universal rectangles and it was easier to fit them into any building.

House of Doors

Lloyd Alter

Years ago, when "shedworking" was all the rage, I designed one that I called "the house of doors." My idea was that there are so many kinds of doors available so designing a frame that could accommodate doors as walls would give people freedom and flexibility to do whatever they wanted. Haworth uses her doors for the same reason; they are ubiquitous and often inexpensive.

Doors in cottage
These doors make a wall.

Lloyd Alter

I am even writing this post from a cabin designed around a wall of old interior doors, originally installed in the '80s and recovered from an office renovation. Doors are wonderfully flexible and adaptable. Needless to say, Haworth's potting shed is my favorite entry since Alex Holland's upside-down boat from 2013.

I also rather liked "Ellie's Rest" in the "nature's haven" category, which used to be the "eco-shed" category. Wilcox tells Treehugger it was changed "to be more inclusive."

This one is actually called an eco-shed.

This one messes up my story about the universality of doors. I suppose they don't do blower door tests in the Shire. See them all at Readersheds, and more on sheds at Alex Johnson's wonderful site Shedworking.