Architects Michelle and Richard Black recently designed an ingenious, adaptable artist’s shed for a Melbourne-based potter that doesn’t really look like a shed at all. Functional design, sustainability and quality materials have now become crucial components.
Set with the task of building a work studio on a two-hectare bush block for the potter to use during her weekly escape from the city, the Blacks needed to understand exactly how their client was going to use it. The ‘gorgeous shed’ as the owner has dubbed it, needed power, water, a separate kiln area and a range of customised features including racks and throwing wheels necessary for her to create.
The result is a customised design and fit-out with an area dedicated to throwing pots, racks for lacing final works, areas for storing clay and numerous tables. Although not their normal role, the Blacks also project managed the entire process. “Our client didn’t want to be an owner-builder,” explained Richard Black. “We live near the site, so we looked after everything on her behalf.” They chose to work with a carpenter rather than a builder and selected products from James Hardie.
“80% of the project was built with Scyon™ Matrix™ cladding,” says Black. “We used this on the vertical panels, and also the interior of the kiln area. We chose it for its high thermal capacity, and very good fire rating. It was also lightweight, which meant it was manageable for one guy to lift. The Scyon™ material is really solid and the Matrix cladding is very well sealed,” says Black. “It can also cope with the tree branches that often fly around in the winds out here.”
The HardiTex® system was used in the kiln area, and as external wall cladding. “It’s very easy to cut and paint,” says Black, who finished with HardiFlex® sheets on the western walls. “It gave us the seamless texture we were after, and was resistant to rotting, water and termites.”
Although the project took 12 months from start to finish, much time was spent in planning. “After delivering plans in April 2007, we spent time ensuring the building would perform the way we wanted it to, and that it would be something the client could maintain herself in a cost-effective manner,” said Black.
With an ecstatic client and another great Australian shed, the Blacks have now discovered that this type of structure could be adapted for many settings. “While we love the shed, the concept is perfect for a weekender or may well be scaled up for a holiday home; it could be lifted and positioned almost anywhere which opens up a realm of possibilities for us.”