The Anatomy of Sheds

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Jane Field-Lewis’s The Anatomy of Sheds: New Buildings from an Old Tradition (Gibbs-Smith $30) takes a humble subject in an imaginative new direction with over 50 examples from around the world, some simple and modest and some extravagant. While the owners themselves describe how they have created their own hideaways, Field-Lewis provides style notes and comments based on her conversations with owners, architects, and designers. For the interiors, recycled, vintage and precious items are mixed with new, functional and practical ones.

One example Field-Lewis writes about has a literary source, having been inspired by the cabin in Thoreau’s Walden. The idea was to design a structure that would bridge the gap between Thoreau’s “walled-in space” and the outdoors, creating interaction between the internal and external environments. The walls and pitched roof were constructed from sections of traditonal pine and contemporary transparent acrylic glass panels, mounted on polyethylene floats and connected with rope screws. Recyclable acrylic panels were chosen instead of glass because they are lighter, more transparent, and consume less energy. The effect brings “transparency” to the building. For the builder, it’s “like a model of the primitive habitat at the birth of architecture…the beginning point of any house.”