Shed of the Year Competition Winner Is a Treehugger's Delight

It is actually built around a tree.

looking down from above

 Cuprinol/Shed of the Year

It's Shed of the Year time, a celebration of a grand British tradition, the construction or the adaptive reuse of sheds for modern uses. We have covered this quirky competition for years, but this year is particularly significant in light of the pandemic and the lockdown. Houses in the UK are generally smaller than those in North America and often do not have useable basements or spare bedrooms, so the shed can become a critically important safety valve.

Winner with plaque
 Cuprinol/Shed of the Year 

This year's winner, Daniel Holloway, was incredibly prescient with his Bedouin Tree-Shed, because it has indeed been a lifesaver. He tells Andrew Wilcox, founder of the competition:

“When lockdown arrived, the shed really took on a life of its own, bringing us closer together as a family. Spending time in it taught us some valuable lessons about appreciating what is precious and provided solace for us all during those really uncertain weeks and months. We whiled away many an hour in there listening to music, playing games and quietly reflecting.
Shed built around trees
  Cuprinol/Shed of the Year

Treehugger used to cover the eco-shed category of the competition, and was disappointed when the category was renamed "nature's haven" to be more inclusive. But it doesn't get more eco or Treehugger than this shed, which is actually built around two living trees. the 16.4' by 16.4' shed was built over eight years, expanded from a traditional shed. It treads lightly on the ground, which is necessary when you are working around trees.

“'Being in harmony with nature is incredibly important for us as a family' Daniel adds. 'We’ve been absolutely committed to avoid impacting the root system of the trees as we’ve been extending the shed. There’s also willow saplings and jasmine on the exterior which makes the shed almost seem part of the landscape when they bloom in the summer.'"
lots of stuff in the shed
  Cuprinol/Shed of the Year

It is filled with treasures from his travels, Victoriana and "furniture plundered from skips [dumpsters] and reclamation yards." It's the nicest shed I have seen since my all-time favorite, Alex Holland's Boat Roofed Shed back in 2013.

lots of stuff inside
  Cuprinol/Shed of the Year

I have always tended to favor the sheds that hew to what Bernard Rudofsky called "architecture without architects" and wrote, "I believe that sensory pleasure should take precedence over intellectual pleasure in art and architecture." This is particularly true in sheds. For example, architects might insist that a floor be flat, but not Daniel Holloway's; he describes it:

"The floor is oak plank scribed around the root structure of the majestic ash tree it encases, main roots giving direction of the way the floor is designed at differing levels, every now and again popping above the floor boards to remind you this is living tree (worthy of adoration)."
looking down
  Cuprinol/Shed of the Year

That is a true treehugger talking, reminding me of Rudofsky's writing:

"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."

I have been enjoying the Readershed site for some time, not quite since it started, but often have disagreed with the final choice of the shed of the year (which is perhaps why I was never invited back as a judge). But this year is really special and they nailed it. Have a look at the winners in other categories here; it is a good year to dream about a nice shed.