This years Grand Designs Live show held at the ExCel in London’s docklands was, as you’d expect, quite grand. Out of all the shows I’ve visited recently, Grand Designs Live certainly stands out as one of the best. Its layout is easy to navigate and despite being huge, I always knew where I was thanks to a sensible layout with its central hub and four main paths, plus the overhead signs in each section telling you where you are and whats ahead. There was a lot to see, and unlike some other shows, I could have happily spent another day there.
The main theme running throughout the show and reflected in many of the trade products being touted was SUSTAINABILITY. This a word used so often now that it has almost lost meaning as this comic by XKCD webcomic amusingly highlights:
However, the people behind Grand Designs Live certainly seem to be using the word sincerely. Whole areas were dedicated to sustainable materials, with experts on hand to discuss them and give talks on their practical uses. Another large area was dedicated to up and coming innovative products that use recycled materials and have little or no impact on the environment. On top of all this, most vendors were proudly demonstrating the ‘Eco’ properties of their products and services. I found it to be an interesting place to be where I could learn all kinds of amazing stuff about sustainable buildings and practices, but alas with a show so large and my curiosity larger I barely had enough time to take it all in.
The next big thing?
If this show is anything to go by then the ‘next big thing’ it seems is ‘Luxury Garden Buildings’, or as I like to call them ‘Fancy Sheds’. If you have a large garden and already have your house how you like it then the next stage it seems is to buy a fancy shed that can be used as a second living room, guest house, office or gym.
They generally come in two types: Pre-fab pod or larger more bespoke lodge. Here are some that stood out.
Starting at the luxurious end we have the i-hut, which isn’t much to look at from the outside, but once inside its pitch as an orginal and creative answer to second home ownership becomes clear. Think of it as a modern home in the shape of a caravan but made of wood. Because it is caravan sized it can be located on land that has planning permission for one, so your site options are massive.
The other luxury shed I came across was the ecoPerch by Blue Forest who specialise in building grandiose bespoke tree houses and eco lodges. The ecoPerch is their attempt to create a pre-fab lodge that can be installed in five days, and again is suitable for caravan sites. It has a more aesthetically pleasing external look than the i-hut, but it dosen’t make as much economical use of the internal space.
If something a little smaller and less home like is what you seek, then the Armadilla may be more suitable, certainly if you plan to create a useful extra space in your garden.
For something all together a little more odd looking, the more eccentric of you might get more pleasure from the Let’s Live Our Lives (LOL) Pod. It looks like a toadstool.
Another interestingly shaped garden pod is the more honestly named Tetra Shed. Whilst on its own it resembles a bizarre geometric shape, inside it is designed to be the perfect outdoor office. It’s modular too, so you can link up to five of them together if you need more space.
For a regular shaped, well insulated and bespoke garden office or lodge I found Vividgreen were the people to talk to.
There is lots more to come in part two of my Grand Designs Live review including the latest in outdoor living and cutting edge interiors, stay tuned!