News Home & Design The Light Shed Is A Young Architect's Self-Built Garden Office Constructed with lightweight, inexpensive and durable materials, this office shed is a multipurpose structure for a small London home. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated May 18, 2021 11:36AM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Christopher Snook News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive The unexpected turn for millions of people isolating mostly at home has meant an uptick of interest in things like home workouts, baking experiments, quarantine haircuts and even refining the art of raising chickens. For those fortunate enough to be able to isolate mostly at home, it is all about finding new ways to work more efficiently from home, while still dealing with the intertwined concerns of homeschooling, caring for noisy children, or juggling chores with a spouse or roommates. So it comes as no surprise that dedicated home office spaces—particularly those that can be installed separately in the back yard—have gained massive popularity during the last year. While prefabricated home offices are perfect for those looking for an option that's quick and easy to set up, some, like London-based architect Richard John Andrews, have chosen to go the do-it-yourself route as a more affordable alternative. Christopher Snook Constructed with low-cost but durable materials, Andrews' home office is clad with black-colored, lightweight corrugated fiberglass panels. The self-built structure is also topped with translucent polycarbonate panels, allowing diffused light to flood its interior, thus lending its descriptive moniker, the Light Shed. As Andrews explains, it's all about the need for a flexible workspace that can not only grow along with his emerging architectural practice, but also balance working from home, and the joys of home life: "My approach was to focus on creating a holistic studio, office and business without the pressure of commercial letting and the rigid location that comes with owning an office. Focusing on family, play and collaborative work as a trifecta of interconnected programs that are organic and flow with the changing circumstances of my digitally nomadic lifestyle and studio ethos." Christopher Snook To be sure, there is a lot packed into the structure's 170 square feet: not only is there enough space for two to three people to work and store things, but there's also enough area to fit in a guest sofa-bed if need be. Christopher Snook There's also a small separate enclosed alcove for a toilet and sink, which is accessed by a sliding door off to the side. Christopher Snook The interior is covered with neutral-toned plywood and durable and long-lasting vinyl flooring. In addition, on the office shed's exterior, there's another door that leads into a small closet for storing gardening tools, as well as large sliding doors that can be kept open to bring in natural ventilation. Christopher Snook Besides allowing for the convenience and cost savings of working from home, the Light Shed also serves to anchor one end of a multipurpose outdoor space that is both used for family time and for entertaining. The Light Shed is also designed to facilitate collaborative work partnerships with other professionals in the future, says Andrews: "The studio aims to create a sustainable approach to work and play, with the flexibility of flipping its function to become an entertaining space for summer gatherings and more intimate functions. The Light Shed offers... the ability for its inhabitants to fluctuate depending on the tasks at hand. The process of selecting materials and the modular construction method of the shed were informed by specific constraints, such as using lightweight materials that could be carried through the main house (which Andrews and his spouse also renovated themselves), and which could assembled on the ground and then lifted into place by two people, and attached to a wooden frame. With the efforts of Andrews himself and an assistant, this bespoke home office was built in 21 days over a period of six months. Christopher Snook The Light Shed not only provides a sheltered place to work, it also apparently provides a flourishing mini-habitat for insects and the birds that eat them, says Andrews: "By its design the polycarbonate heats up in the sun and offers an attractive resting surface for aphids which bloom on the over-bearing sycamore tree above. This coupled with the sycamore’s excessive sap helps retain the aphids which in turn provides a rich buffet for local small birds such as blue tits which move within the protected canopy of the tree. Since installation the roof has become a vibrant hub of ornithological activity, promoting a biodiversity success story within one little garden in east London." Christopher Snook In total, the Light Shed cost $15,000 to build, making it a more inexpensive and yet custom-tailored solution compared to similar prefab options. Despite the limited budget and footprint, the result shows what can be possible when such constraints are transformed into opportunities for creative problem-solving. To see more, visit Richard John Andrews and Instagram.