Open Thinkering


Tag: Mark Starford

A #shoffice update (October 2012)

Back in August I posted about how working from home with my new job for the Mozilla Foundation means I needed a dedicated office. It’s just too distracting working in the main house when we’ve got two young children! I’m calling it a ‘shoffice’ as it’s a shed as far as planning regulations go (no-one’s sleeping in there) but an office as far as I’m concerned. šŸ™‚

Since August local architect Mark Starford has been drawing up draft plans from the detailed measurements he took on that sunny day. I’m delighted Mark’s agreed to allow me to share the drawings here (and on Flickr) under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. I’ve also introduced him to the delights of Pinterest via my Architecture & Design board. It’s useful to have a ‘mood board’ as it allows others to see the kinds of things you like by referencing extant things!

Below are the options Hannah, my wife, and I like so far. Mark gave us three options for the path and way down to the office. I’ve included the ‘dogleg’ version. We’re not so keen on the protruding skylight but are definitely in favour of getting as much north-facing light in as possible. Mark informed us that artists tend to favour this kind of light as it’s more constant and avoids the ‘hard light’ that distracts me when I work.

We definitely like the freestanding canopy-style protruding roof to shelter the stairs and we’re also thinking about potentially including an additional way to get down to the decking area. Hannah doesn’t want the decking to be my ‘outside office space’ and I can see her point. We’re also still thinking about the placement and shape of the windows to the west side (we don’t want any on the south side).

You can click on any of the images to enlarge them or the set is here:
Birds-eye view

West and North elevations

West and South elevations

Cutaway view of shoffice

If you’re struggling to understand how this works, it might help to know that our garden would be pretty much on a 45-degree slope if it wasn’t for a concrete ‘bunker’ under the patio. Also, the fence to the rear of our property drops down dramatically to a much lower garden level for our neighbours.

The images below may help:

Garden showing concrete bunker entry

Concrete bunker entry

Concrete bunker

And, finally, we’re absolutely going to invite our neighbours (to the side and the back) to look at the final drawings. We’re trying to make it so they hardly notice it’s there!

Doug’s new #shoffice

I was going to create a new blog for this but I thought if there’s one thing I don’t need in my life it’s another blog. So it’s stopping here. For the time being, anyway. šŸ˜‰

Mark measuring for shoffice (notice awesome cardboard fort)

The secret underground bunker (3)

The concrete bunker (3)

The concrete bunker (2)

The concrete bunker

Access to the secret underground bunker (2)

Access to the secret underground bunker

Ben (our five year-old) photographing Doug helping Mark measure the garden

Measuring the garden

Doug helping Mark measure the garden

I’ve created a Flickr set to chart progress.

Yesterday local architect Mark Starford stopped by Chez Belshaw for initial discussions and measurements for my shed office (shoffice). As you can see from the photos above the previous owners of our house had built a bizarre (but awesome) underground concrete bunker, complete with power.

We’re going to use that existing structure as a basis to build upon. Mark’s very much into sustainable structures and I’m very into getting as much light in there given that we’re located in the North East of England!

The backstory

Last month I started work as Badges & Skills Lead for the Mozilla Foundation. It’s a great job that allows me to work from home. Whilst that means I’ve had to sell my awesome Ford Puma, it also means that I’m completely in control of my working environment.

After some discussions with my wife, Hannah, we decided that my existing study (which is a garage conversion) doesn’t quite do the trick. The conversion was done well – to such an extent it’s very much part of the main house. And therein lies the problem when you’ve got a five year-old and an eighteen month-old.

So we decided to look outside for a solution. Initially we were looking at shed-like structures. Hence the ‘shoffice’ moniker (which has stuck). However, we thought it would be a waste not to use the existing foundations under the patio to build something more permanent, comfortable and which would ultimately add value to our house.

You’ll not be surprised to hear that I made contact with Mark Starford, the architect we’ve asked to work with us, through Twitter. I think it was this map that alerted us to his proximity. I checked out his website and then made contact on Twitter. That moved to email, he came around for a cup of tea and chat, and we got the ball rolling.

In turn, Mark’s recommended a structural engineer who in turn is going to recommend a builder. Yes, we could have got tenders and vetted people and all that sort of thing. But in reality, I want to work with people who want to work with me and each other. So it’s all good.

Mark spent a couple of hours at our house yesterday chatting and measuring and asking questions. He’s going to go away and make some drawings. I can’t wait to see them.

And, of course, I’ll share them here when he does (IĀ think I’ve persuaded him to release his work under a Creative Commons license!)

Blogging this adventure comes naturally to me but I was definitely spurred on by Christian Payne blogging the process of creating his home office!