The Big Shed

By Eleanor Dodman Architects

Connection to Harringay Warehouse District

As a response to the Harringay Warehouse District’s ethos of anti-gentrification, the Big Shed is deliberately sparse. It is a sheltered but unheated and unserviced space. It doesn’t have a programme of its own, instead, it is a vessel for the activities of the Harringay Warehouse District to spill into and make their own. The big shed is not so much a self-sufficient project as it is a public living room. The Big Shed strives through this deliberate crudeness to provide a generosity of space which in our opinion lies at the heart of the Harringay Warehouse District.

Proposal Outline

The Big Shed strives for great generosity through simple means. A low plinth runs the length of the site along Eade Road. The profile of the plinth creates a bench and a planter to the street, a public gesture on behalf of the Warehouse House District. Made of blockwork the plinth gives the Big Shed a certain material permanence whilst the low height provides material efficiency and makes it feasible to be built by volunteers who may not have the skills to build a full masonry structure. Beyond the plinth rises the main structure made from painted softwood and corrugated steel and polycarbonate sheeting. The main space is set out following a regular grid on a module based on standard timber lengths. The shape of the space takes on the familiar elongated proportions and the shallow roof pitch of the warehouses that form part of the District. This establishes a kinship between the big shed and the warehouse district at large but more importantly, it affords the big shed a generosity of space through minimal means. The space inside is sheltered but unheated and unserviced. Towards Eade Road, above the plinth, the faced is made of timber shutters allowing the space to be alternately closed off or opened up to the exterior. The roof is made of corrugated steel sheet with areas of polycarbonate allowing light to diffuse into the main space. Where the regularity of the column grid meets the irregularity of the site boundary the space is cut back to create pockets gardens brought into the interior. The existing concrete slab of the site is left in place. The timber columns are sat on steel feet anchored into the existing slab. The simple repeating module of the Big Shed does mean that the size of the space can be varied relatively easily to suit the available funding and it could also be constructed in phases growing the space over time.