Amazing Spaces: Shed of the Year

Benjie Goodhart / 25 June 2015

TV blogger Benjie Goodhart takes a look at some sheds that transcend the traditional structure to create beautiful, functional and fantastical spaces.

There are many ways in which I am deficient as a proper man’s man. I don’t drink beer. I haven’t got a tool kit. I like Richard Curtis films. I’ve read all of the Anne of Green Gables books. And I don’t have a shed.

And if I did have one, it wouldn’t be a manly shed. Real men’s sheds smell of diesel fuel and have tool racks and hacksaws. Mine would rapidly fill up with things my wife had told me to throw away, but which I secretly wanted to keep. Not an alpha male, then. So sheds and I don’t exactly mix.

The sheds on Shed of the Year, on the other hand, are right up my street. They are beautiful, ingenious, and almost never filled with tools and practical stuff. There the kind of sheds I can look at without feeling emasculated. 

If you’ve never seen Shed of the Year (which has been going for nine years, where HAVE you been?) it is pretty much what it says on the tin (of Ronseal that’s been sitting behind your mower just below your row of wrenches). 

The entries are split into categories (Eco, pub shed, summer houses, normal sheds etc) and affable architect George Clarke and his team visit the finalists in each category. One from each group will go into the final, from which the one true Shed of the Year will be chosen, propelling its owner to hitherto undreamt of heights of celebrity (half a page in the local newspaper and a phone interview on Chorley FM).

Tonight’s first category is normal sheds. Boooooriiiing! Who wants to look at normal sheds? Hold on. Maybe “normal” means something different in shed-land. Because first up is Roy’s shed, which sees a quite monumental train set (2.5 miles of track!) contained in a vast hangar-like structure. Maybe “shed” means something different in shed-land as well. 

Also in the normal category is a beautifully-crafted shed with sliding roof used for star-gazing, a shed-cum-cinema owned by a couple with a fondness for garden gnomes (immediate disqualification) and my favourite, a chap who has built a shed and decking, put it on some floating oil drums, and turned it into a boat.

Then it’s on to the eco-shed category. Boo again. We don’t want worthy sheds with low environmental impact. We want ridiculously beautiful and ambitious builds... oh. Hold on. Tracy’s owl house on the Merseyside coast is indeed ridiculously beautiful. As is Paul’s Geodome in Cumbria. And Cormac’s wooden lodge in a remote Highland forest is simply breath-taking.

Wow. I bet they’ve saved the best for last. It’s... it’s... oh. It’s a shed made of mud in Norfolk, that looks like a Soviet era nuclear bunker. Ah yes, but inside it’ll be amaz... oh, inside, it’s a workshop. Way to kill my buzz! Apparently the technical aspects of the build are extraordinary. It’s the kind of detail that will have real men across the nation itching with excitement. It just made me want to go and exfoliate my feet.

Amazing Spaces: Shed of the Year - Sunday, June 21, 8pm, Channel 4

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