Category Archives: Small Buildings

Now for something different – a bespoke garden studio

By | Garden Rooms, Small Buildings | No Comments

Commissioned by a photographer friend, who was struggling to operate out of a cramped studio in her house. The brief was to create a garden studio building, that would be large enough to undertake a variety of studio set-ups, as well as being able to be used for recreational uses such as a cinema room.

The building is simple in form and construction, although the ‘diagonally double pitched’ roof form posed some interesting angular junctions. Constructed using SIPS panels, the beauty of this system is that all of the geometric junctions can be pre-manufactured, allowing on-site assembly to be relatively straight forward.

The end result is a functional and beautiful space, and a contemporary take on the typical garden studio. Best of all, during the worst of our winter weather, the building hardly needed any heating.

Slideshow video showing the design and construction of this bespoke garden studio >

Contain Yourself

By | Architecture, Residential Developments, Small Buildings, Sustainable Design | No Comments


In every town and city, whether large or small, you’ll always find small, awkward shaped plots of land that sit between larger development sites. These ‘infill’ plots have generally been considered unusable. The aim of Contain Yourself was to tackle this unavoidable issue with a cost effective, design led approach, whilst also trying to create an ideal home for people just stepping onto the property ladder.


The size and structure of the house is based on that of a single shipping container, which is literally turned on its head to create a compact five storey property, needing just 2.6m squared of land to be placed.  Designed by the Heterarchy Studio, this innovative house design will be exhibited at the NRW in Dusseldorf, Germany from June until September this year.  The house is one of 24 designs chosen to be exhibited out of over 200 entrants to this open International design competition set by the NRW late last year. Entrants were called to submit a maximum of two 30x30cm boards and a ‘Tweet’ (140 characters) explaining the design. Each of the 24 submissions will be showcased with a 1:5 scale model.


The 2.6m x 12.2m container is sunk into an insulated concrete pit in the ground, creating two floors below ground, leaving 8m above ground level for a further 3 levels.  To create usable interior spaces, the skin of the container is punctured to allow for angled, cubic projections to cantilever from the structure. Within the interior the house is a central staircase that leads to a room on each floor, with a bedroom and bathroom below ground level and entrance space, kitchen and living room on the floors above.

An external cladding of solar responsive glass panels over a super insulated multi foil layer is used, making the building thermally efficient and therefore cost effective.

In a time when getting onto the property ladder is harder than ever, these compact homes provide a solution for first time buyers.  They tackle the issue of wasted land and the growing demand for affordable housing whilst staying design conscious, cost effective and energy efficient.

Heterarchy to develop Community Media Hub concept

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Following the successful Wood Architecture Workshop 2010, which Heterarchy ran alongside DeMontfort University with Travis Perkins as comerical sponsors, the development of a new design concept for a mobile Community Media Hub has been commissioned.

The project has been instigated by community media guru and journalist John Coster, of citizenseye.org, following his coverage of the Wood Architecture Workshop 2010. During the workshop John awarded a prize to one of the students, Grace Mbau, for her concept for the outdoor meditation space, with a view to progressing the concept for the Community Media Hub.  Heterarchy will be developing the brief with John, looking at both the design produced by Grace and also alternative proposals.

It’s an exciting project for us, fitting in very well with our growing interest in small scale ‘micro’ architecture. It is to be launched in August 2010, so watch this space.

A studio for a photographer

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1001_9436Work has just completed on our first ‘garden room‘, to be used as a studio for a portrait photographer. The building, which uses the latest in rapid construction technology, uses entirely sustainable materials and has insulation levels far exceeding the current Building Regulations requirements.  Even during extremely cold weather the building needs very little in the way of heating, utilising controlled solar gain through the large south facing window.

Initial design studies looked at cladding the building in a variety of materials – charred plywood, Scottish Larch in both shiplap and waney edge form.  In the end we decided on the hardwood Garapa – a very durable product, with a lifespan of at least 25 years.  All windows were manufactured locally, with the folding / sliding doors by Jeld Wen.  The large projecting window (cannot really see it in these images) was constructed in our own workshop.  Full project photography coming soon.

Photographers studio garden roomThis building is the first of our new garden room concepts – we will be launching them under the brand Het-Hut this summer, so watch this space.  Click here to see the concept visuals for this project.

Heterarchy run live student workshop for sustainable timber structures

By | Architecture, Garden Rooms, Small Buildings, Sustainable Design | No Comments

Wood Workshop 2010 Winners

Jointly instigated by DeMontfort University Department of Interior Architecture and Design, and the Heterarchy studio, with sponsorship from Travis Perkins for the construction of the winning design. The two week project, for second year students of the BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design course based at the DMU Leicester Campus, has been declared an outstanding success by all who were invloved.

The brief was to design a free-standing, outdoor structure for use as a ‘chill out’ or meditation space, using sustainable timber and timber derived products as its primary construction material.  The project was run over a two week period, with myself and Rosemarie regularly working with the students, alongside DMU head of Interior Design, Graham Stretton. The creative response from the students was phenomenal, demonstrating strong conceptual thinking with the ability to understand technical and constructional issues.

We were pleased to secure sponsorship for the build by Travis Perkins, showing a real commitment from them to support education and innovation within the sustainable construction sector.  James Hollis, of Travis Perkins, said: ‘I’m amazed by the quality of the work and the amount they’ve done within a very short time.  Every single design has something of merit, choosing just one to build is almost impossible.’

Wood Workshop 2010 - judging 1

The general consensus was the quality of the work was so high, we simply woudn’t be able to choose one winner.  Looking at the criteria of concept, process (the students ability to engage with professional input during the design process), buildability and presentation, we managed to get it down to a final shortlist of six (it could have been 12), with one being declared the outright winner.  All six will attend a two week placement within the Heterarchy studio, when we hope to build two of the chosen designs.

A seventh design was chosen by John Coster, of community media agancy CitizensEye.org, to be developed, with the Heterachy studio, into a mobile outdoor community media hub.

All of the work will be published on the Heterarchy website.  We are aiming to build two of the chosen designs during April 2010.

Wood Workshop 2010 - work 1