The Crossroads Garden Shed demonstrates the value and capacity of architecture to transform communities with even the smallest of briefs. Intended to supply a growing neighbourhood with a simple storage structure for gardening tools and outdoor furniture, the original vision shifted drastically when re-approached as a unique opportunity to enhance the pedestrian realm. This discovery led to a rigorous design process, developing the project into much more than initially imagined, and activating the area for residents and visitors.
Inherently stable and waterproof structures, three 8’ x 10’ shipping containers establish the base structure. Selected for their utilitarian nature and in response to the brief and budget, these were placed to create intimate spaces in-between, while the overall structure acts as a threshold between the street, gardens, and play area. One container is a tool shed – the initial programme requirement – while the remaining two provide additional storage and programmable space, critical to evolving the structure into a civic amenity.
The containers are Cor-ten steel, making it a natural choice for the whole structure. Their corrugated geometry is ‘multiplied’ and ‘stretched’ through layering Cor-ten plates and expanded metal mesh, consequently softening the structure’s appearance. An oblong grid of hexagonal Cor-ten shapes create a domed surface to gather within; steel honeycombs open skyward in vertical flues and, connected by an overhead trellis, dapple the ground below with light.
The final design is the product of a formulaic analysis which optimizes both budget and design for the largest civic impact possible. The project focus is not only its merits as an object but the ability of the spaces between to foster community. The re-imagined SHED is a civic attraction that lends itself to further programming as the area grows and includes areas for work, shelter and relaxation.