FKDA, a small architectural practice based in Manchester, have recently completed the design of a micro-home that they affectionately call a "shed". This is a shed for living. It's in response to today's current economic climate where housing needs to be affordable and easily deliverable.

The idea of creating such a small living environment came from the growing reports of people being forced from their homes unable to make their current mortgage payments, and turning to living with family, in garden sheds and even in cars.

The design also caters for a market that aren't feeling such hardship, for example those looking to get onto the property ladder. The shed could provide individual low cost student or key worker accommodation, be an ideal house for a first-time buyer, or even a holiday home. Developers are interested in the design to fulfil the quota of affordable housing they need to provide in a typical housing scheme. The basic shell version makes an ideal home office, extended living space for an existing house or a children's playroom.

The architects were keen not to compromise on space standards and quality of design to achieve a low-cost micro-home. The layout of the shed is extremely efficient and compact, yet provides a spacious feeling with a double height space over the main living area. Directly over the kitchen and shower room is a double bed deck with ample storage and hanging space for clothes. To maximise storage, one of the most important attributes people look for in a home, an inner "sleeve" has been designed that incorporates cut outs for furnishings and fittings, and elsewhere provides plenty of storage space.

This inner lining also contributes to the buildings excellent thermal performance. The (FSC Certified) timber framed walls, floor and roof are insulated using cellulose fibre (extracted from 100% recycled newspapers). The windows are all double glazed, and the shed is heated by electric underfloor heating with the option of a real wood burning fireplace.

By incorporating renewable energy systems to the building (identified as optional extras), it's possible for the shed to achieve Zero Carbon status. The architects have included the same criteria they have set out for their Zero Carbon house (home:works). They have also been careful to design and specify internal fittings and finishes that contribute to their own "healthy home" requisite, to improve air quality, cleanliness and health and safety.

The architects considered trying to classify the building as a caravan to eliminate the need for Building Regulations Approval, however, they were keen to not only provide a structure that performed no differently to a traditional house, but also met accessibility requirements for the disabled. With simple modifications to the interior and and ramped access, the shed can cater for wheelchair users. Having the same attributes of a dwelling, the shed is also VAT zero-rated.

The shed could be entirely prefabricated in a factory and delivered to site (sitting on a simple concrete foundation). Alternatively, the components can be delivered and the shed assembled on site, with each being small and light enough for one or two people to manhandle, eliminating the need for a crane. Ideally the structure would also be delivered by Bio-Diesel haulage vehicles to maximise the sheds eco-credentials.

All-in-all, the shed provides a very unique alternative living, working or playing environment, eco-friendly, healthy, low cost and easily deliverable. It may be designed in response to this current economic climate, but it could also challenge the housing market to steer away from the bland brick boxes that are commonly on offer throughout the country.

Although based in Manchester city centre, we are able to offer our services throughout the North West and the whole UK. We strive on the diversity of the projects we have undertaken and continue to be involved with; from school and education projects, SureStart, social housing and rsl projects, community buildings, libraries, housing, private residential houses to commercial office developments. We've worked on projects in Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Sale, Altrincham, Lymm, Stockport, Bolton, Bury, Burnley, Chester, Wrexham, Sheffield, the Wirral, Scunthorpe and Oxford.

We have also developed a Zero Carbon Home called home:works. Please visit our main practice website for full details of all our projects... "shed".

Shed. has two websites that provide some further details on how our designs can cater as a living environment and also as a leisure space... "sheds for living" and "sheds for playing".