Arriving on site pre-cut and easy to assemble, this home office is both robust and adaptable.

green garden office - take a tour of this uniquely designed garden office - home improvements -

Image: Ben Tynegate

This outdoor office was quick to construct, taking just 20 days from start to finish at a cost of £28,500. The Grand Designs magazine team spoke to architect Ben Allen all about the concept and build of this unique garden room.

Tell us how this project came about... 

My brother Jonnie and my sister-in-law, nutritionist Dr Rachel Allen, wanted to build an office in the garden of their home in south London. It was designed primarily for Rachel, who is a nutritionist, as a base for her work, but Jonnie, who is a partner at a global engineering firm, also used it during lockdown. My team is interested in making spaces that are suitable for multiple uses, so the office can also serve as a spare room, a play area for their two children and as a quiet retreat – which was particularly useful during lockdown.

How did you find having family members as clients?

Jonnie and Rachel know my work quite well and they were generous enough to allow me a lot of creative freedom. Any project, no matter what size, can be stressful for the client. Guiding them through the process in a way that minimises their worries as much as possible is important to maintain a good relationship. Being realistic but respectful of budgets and quick to resolve issues that may arise really helps too. 

garden home office interior -  take a tour of this uniquely designed garden office - home improvements -

Image: Ben Tynegate

How did you make the structure?

It was fabricated on a computer numerical control (CNC) machine, which uses computer-generated data to precisely measure and cut materials. The exterior cladding, internal wall and floor linings are made from wood-based panels such as plywood, triply and wood fibreboard, all of which were cut in this way. Working with CNC gives architects a direct connection with the fabrication process. 

Read more: What planning permission do I need for a garden room?

What benefits did this bring to the build?

We designed the connections between the structural plywood panels so that they would be able to slot together with no measuring and cutting needed on site, which ensures the office is very stable. The CNC process is very accurate, permitting just 1mm of tolerance, which isn’t possible when cutting on site. As a result, we were able to use inexpensive materials such as plywood – and much less of it. The office can be disassembled, if needed, to be reused elsewhere or elements can be taken apart and recycled. 

green geometric garden office -  take a tour of this uniquely designed garden office - home improvements -

Image: Ben Tynegate

The cladding really is spectacular...

The original idea was for it to have zinc cladding, but taking advantage of the opportunity to do the whole building using CNC proved irresistible. The cladding is made with a new 100 per cent waterproof MDF that’s suitable for exterior use. A spray-paint finish, applied in the factory, provided an extra layer of protection as well as a choice of colours to have some fun with. 


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