How can we create a community space that
is independent from religious, political,
i.e associations. A space which is a
democratized & accessible space for all?
How can we adapt the architecture to the
transient nature of programs?
Welcome to the Not just Men’s, Mens shed on the Wurujudri Land in Naarm. This non-commercial, not-for-profit space is dedicated to promoting mental health, employability skills, and providing a safe haven by celebrating making and building.
Data has shown 22% of Australians feel lonely, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men. The challenges posed by the pandemic and global events have only exacerbated this issue. Simple Men’s Sheds often nestled in small pockets of unused spaces across Australia, have proven to be invaluable in combating social isolation and associated health concerns, especially among older men. The suburban backyard shed is a part of the Australian vernacular and has traditionally existed as a space for men.
But, what about everyone else (NOT JUST MEN) who don’t have a shed?
Where do they go to clear their head, to make a friend and pick up basic skills in a safe space with no commercial obligations?
The “Not Just Men’s” mens shed brings together a community of city residents, older people, students and maybe you in a space recognizing the need for a democratic and accessible third space for creation and simply being. It is that in between space, that is a derivative of a typical mens shed and a suburban shed that builds a community through the celebration of the mess, the chaos and the democratic occupation of space.
Situated along the train lines with views of the city on one side and surrounded by native eucalyptus trees and a view of the Yarra River on the other, the site occupies an intermediary space between contrasting environments. The existing multi-level car park, in addition to its primary function, previously housed a men’s shed tucked away in a dimly lit area facing the Birrarung Marr entrance. Despite its modest size, the activities within the space were anything but small-scale. Hence, the new proposal seeks to expand upon this existing program within the framework of the current car park
Optimizing the industrial warehouse vernacular, the plan revolves around four strategies: infilling the existing car park and creating new voids, establishing a continuous ground plane, adding an expanded corrugated roof, and defining each facade to engage users and establish a cohesive identity for the transient programs within.
The internal organization is guided by the central hearth – the yard which interconnects and interacts with 3 main functions of the shed : the backyard, the garage and the gallery. The domestic nature of the suburban shed weaves into the social spatial qualities of the Men’’s shed, creating shared urban spaces such as open dining spaces, coworking, labs, and outdoor yards—fostering production and exchange of thoughts.
Throughout the shed, the spaces of production are always in focus – constantly emphasizing on the imperfect and unpolished nature of the space. The typology follows the form of a typical shed, where everything chaotic resides under one large corrugated roof.
On Russell street level, a small component of the existing car park is retained but the vast scale of floor plate is created into an active neighborhood street, offering experiences, resting spaces, play areas and spatial diversity. This active street is penetrated with 2 public entrances, making this porous and accessible from all ends.
The active street creates Visibility from the street giving an insight into the sheds activity. The main central staircase provides a connection between each level, inviting people to ascend.. Each landing provides a view across the surrounding urban spaces.
Existing infrastructure of the car parks forms the new kit of parts, with each element being reused and reinvented to create interior flexible spatial qualities and reduce the embodied energy of the building.
On the ground floor, earthen mud floor is used as a finished floor finish over the existing concrete slab to create a continuous outdoor ground texture that follows into the building from the birrarung marr. The earthen floor is a mixture of clay, sand and straw – all from the site. Its high thermal mass will help reduce cooling and heating loads through the year and contribute to the IEQ of the space. Due to the nature of a shed, the earthen floor will encourage the users of the space to create anywhere.
The south facade is a build up of compressed straw bale wall with a brick cavity wall . The exterior wall finish is a lime plaster – this wall type is conscious choice to further reduce the environmental impact and the embodied energy of the building while further creating a tactile surface that wants to be experienced.
In conclusion, sheds hold a profound significance in our communities, offering more than just physical spaces for crafting and building. They serve as sanctuaries of camaraderie and creativity, particularly in a world where feelings of loneliness and isolation are all too common.
So I welcome you to my shed, where we have a beer, make a chair and have a chat.