In 2014, 5468796 was engaged by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation [CMLC] to design a garden shed as part of a larger community garden development in the upcoming high-profile neighbourhood of East Village, near downtown Calgary. The project’s intended function is to house garden tools and supplies for the future members of the surrounding community. The project is located at the very end of the RIFF, a new pedestrian promenade that bisects East Village.
The site, a leftover plot of land between two fenced-off community gardens, was established by the project’s landscape architects with the intent to erect a utilitarian shed structure in the future. CMLC saw an opportunity to realize something unique to enhance the pedestrian realm and challenged 5468796 to develop a design that would fit a budget of $100,000, inclusive of construction costs and professional fees. During the design process, as a part of the context analysis, it became evident that the SHED could become a true destination for the new community. With the ambition to include amenities beyond storage, 5468796 expanded the design brief to include a civic gathering place as part of the project objectives.
The starting point of the design is three 8’ x 10’ shipping containers. Being inherently stable and waterproof structures, the containers require minimal foundation and modifications and were selected for their utilitarian nature in direct response to the design brief and project budget. The three containers are placed on the site to create intimate spaces in-between, while the overall structure acts as a threshold between the street, the gardens, and the play area. One of the containers is used as a tool shed - the initial programme requirement – while the remaining two provide additional storage and programmable space for CMLC.
The shipping containers are made of Cor-ten steel, making it a natural choice for the whole structure. The corrugated geometry of the container walls is ‘multiplied’ and ‘stretched’ through the layering of corrugated Cor-ten plates and expanded metal mesh. Through the design process, 5468796 discovered that the expanded metal mesh cost 75% less than solid plate - allowing the design team to ‘stretch’ the impact of the project while ‘stretching’ the budget to deliver greater value for less.
Growing from the initial corrugation, connected back to back, the layering continues; evident in the overhead trellis that unites the three containers into a single object. The trellis provides an intimate enclosure, forming a gateway that allows pedestrians to move freely through the site in all directions. The layering of mesh creates a soft and somewhat ‘blurred’ edge for the entire ensemble.
The re-imagined SHED has become a civic attraction that lends itself to further programming as the community grows and, in addition to various storage spaces, includes areas for work, shelter and relaxation for the community.