For the past ten years the Oakhouse shell had been the main workshop for everything, but now that it is approaching completion the interior needs to be a cleaner space. It’s no good somebody trying to cook, or prepare herbal remedies, next to pots of white spirit sploshing about, or a power saw belting out great clouds of dust. So it was clear that we needed another workshop. The site tucked away behind the old Greenhouse seemed perfect and the Back Shed is now the general workshop for woodwork, painting and general maintenance.
The Back Shed may remind some of the early days, before the Temple was built. It is constructed with railway sleepers from the Underground Bakerloo Line and finished in black tar. It has a lovely solid feel to it. All the timbers are bespoke and there is a green mineral felt roof. It has a curious semi-circular shape with a sweeping curve along the rear elevation, not unlike the inside of a ship. This provided a conundrum with the roof design of whether to bring the roof down to meet the walls, or build the walls up to meet the roof. In the end we chose the latter and one unexpected bonus has been the marquee shaped back wall caused by the truncated hip in both of the corners. Each of these has a glazed owl hole tucked in underneath. There is a handsome gabled window and skylights front and back. The hefty back door, rescued from a Glasgow tenement, opens out delightfully on to the riverbank.
Inside there are workbenches and shelves around the walls and a long table in the middle. At one end there is a small office with an oak settle for visitors and an old stove with the familiar scent of wood smoke mingling in the air. For years we had dozens of tools stored in boxes where you can never lay your hands on them, but now blissfully they’re all hanging up on the walls and can be gazed at adoringly. There is also plenty of storage for all the building stuff we’ve accumulated over the years. On his last visit to the garden Rinpoche commented on the half-built shed, ‘It will be beautiful’ he said.