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George Clarke's Amazing Spaces: Series 11 Episode 7: Shepherd's Hut and Garden Office


Watch Season 11 Ep 7

George meets a teenager building a shepherd's hut from scratch, and visits a computer-designed garden office, an 'ethereal' camper van, and Bauhaus buildings in Israel

George Clarke Narration Episode Intro - One designer creates an office from a giant 3D jigsaw.
Anthony - First piece of the build. 144 to go.

George Clarke Narration: Like most people, the 2020 Covid pandemic forced freelance designer and new dad Anthony to work from his home in Manchester.

Anthony: I started working from my dining-room table, which is fraught with lots of distractions like my beautiful little son.

George Clarke Narration: Anthony decided to use his design skills to plan an unusual geodesic office, which he hoped would create the perfect working environment.

George Clarke: I didn't want to design a cube, so I looked to nature for inspiration. In nature there's lots of geometric shapes. This is the shape that I decided to build, which I call a Dzome. It spirals a lot like a cactus. This is biomimicry, using nature as an inspiration. Each individual diamond is a building block. So we're looking at about, in total, 1,500 components. If any one of them is not correct or misaligns then it could jeopardise. the whole build.

George Clarke Narration: It took Anthony two years to design the 1,500 elements needed to create his office pod. To make sure his design would work before manufacturing he built a prototype model.

Anthony: So this is my one-to-five scale model made from sheets of aluminium.

George Narration: Anthony's geometric pod will create the perfect external office space with a metal shell lined with birch plywood. There'll be a desk in the middle, plus double-glazed windows, and lighting, perfect for his design work.

Anthony: This model cost £1,000 to build. The full-size one is going to cost, I'm hoping, around £10,000 to build.

George Clarke Narration: With the scale model a success, Anthony gives the go-ahead to a specialist laser-cutting factory to start manufacturing the steel components.

Anthony: There's quite a lot riding on this, because the whole project is completely self-funded, so I've had to take on extra jobs to fund it. I'm a bit nervous about all the parts. Making sure all the folds are in exactly the right position. Making sure all the bolt holes align, because I can't really afford to buy all the parts again. Yeah, this has to work.
My initial motivation was to have an office pod in my back garden, but it's progressed a lot further than that. My dream is to manufacture and sell many Dzomes and for the business to be a success. Then I can hopefully secure a good future for my family.

George Clarke Narration: With a lot riding on the success of the project, Anthony is keen to test out some new kit he's bought, in a space he shares at a local workshop.

Anthony: This is my new toy, just arrived, which is a router on a mechanical arm. It will cut to the desired shape once the co-ordinates are inputted.

George Clarke Narration: Anthony is using the machine to cut wooden panels which will clad the inside of his office pod.

Anthony: I've only done a couple of test pieces on it so it's slightly nerve-wracking.

George Clarke Narration: As with the external components, mm precision is required for Anthony's design to fit together.

Anthony: I'm really chuffed with the accuracy. So I just need to make 144 more of these.

George Clarke Narration: A week later, and it's a big day for Anthony. The precision-cut steel components which he hopes will make up the first of many office pods have arrived.

Anthony: Now it's crunch time. I really hope it all bolts together as it should. The first piece of the build. The metalwork is costing thousands. So it's a big risk that they all fit together perfectly. If they don't, then I've just thrown £5,000, £6,000 down the drain, which I can ill afford. Seeing the base down it looks really good. All the pieces look really, really accurate so, yeah, time to crack on with the rest of the build.

George Clarke Narration: That's 14 pieces of the shell down, only 136 to go. Anthony's office pod might be the first of may, but I'm on a quest to create a one of-a-kind Arts and Crafts caravan in the Lake District.

George Clarke Narration: Back in Manchester freelance designer Anthony is now five weeks into constructing his own design - a ground-breaking garden office pod. With the pod now in situ on a friend's land, Anthony can install the wooden panelling he routed himself, and he's using a very cunning material.

Anthony: I wanted to make sure that there were no visible fixings, so that's why I use Velcro. If you need to access the wiring behind, you can just pull the panel off and get to it really easily.

George Clarke Narration: Anthony's next job is the outside lighting, and he's using another bit of tech.

Anthony: Today I'm 3D-printing the light holders for the pod. The LED will illuminate each shingle of the pod. I'm 3D printing them because it's such a strange shape. Nothing off the shelf that you can buy. In total there's around 140 of the holders and 140 of the covers so it'll take a full week to print. I'm gonna check to make sure that the 3D prints fit together with the lights. The cover goes on. Power. And it all lights up. So one down 120 to go.

George Clarke: After two years of design, development, and time spent away from his family, I'm off to see if Anthony's geometric gamble has paid off. Anthony has set out to reinvent the traditional home office. Instead of working in a kitchen, bedroom or even a garden shed, he wanted to create a space to inspire and focus the mind. Meticulously designed, precision engineered, it's time to find out if all of his intricate calculations have added up to success. Anthony, how are you, mate?

Anthony: Yeah, brilliant! How are you?

George Clarke: So nice to meet you.

Anthony: Lovely to meet you.

George Clarke: And so nice to see this. It looks fantastic.

Anthony: Thankyou, yeah.

George Clarke: Absolutely brilliant. I have to say, you've put it in a very exposed spot.

Anthony: It's the wind tunnel test, and it's stood up to the test.

George Clarke: It's definitely stood up to the test. When you get up close to it you notice just how clever and how well designed all the pieces are. I mean, it really is meticulous.

Anthony: Yeah, any little slip-up and it wouldn't go together.

George Clarke: It wouldn't work. No. And I love the lights. That is a really, really clever little touch.

Anthony: They're all individually printed on my 3D printer. In the evening, it really comes to life and looks magical.

George Clarke: It's stunning, and I haven't even seen the inside yet! Come on, let's go and have a look. Oh, Anthony!

George Clarke Narrating: What he's created is less like an office, more a relaxing cocoon of creativity, with a spacious work desk, all haloed with light.

George Clarke: What a fantastic space this is. Do you know what? You can hear the wind outside but you feel like you're completely protected from the outside world.

Anthony: And because of the shape, there's no weak point in it, so it's structurally really, really strong.

George Clarke: And then, at the very top, you've got the most wonderful skylight. And the fact you've put this beautiful LED circular light that's hovering underneath it. It's beautifully done. So if you don't mind me asking, how much did this cost to build?

Anthony: The budget was about £12,000 and I've spent £15,000.

George Clarke: That's good value, that's amazing. But if you're gonna make lots of them and sell them...

Anthony: Yeh, that's the plan, is to start selling them.

George Clarke: What does this mean to you and your family, for this to be a success?

Anthony: It means the world. Right high on my agenda is spending time with my son.

George Clarke: It's one of the most brilliant home offices I've ever seen.

Anthony: Thank you very much.

George Clarke: Honestly, mate, really well done.

Anthony: Appreciate it.

George Clarke: I hope you sell lots of them. You deserve it, after everything you've put into it. I'll tell you now. Look, I'll let you get back to work.

Anthony: Thanks very much.

George Clarke: Take care.

Anthony: Bye now.

George Clarke: It's always great to meet the next generation of talented British designers, and Anthony is clearly one to watch. Not only has he created a calming space to get away from all the distractions of day-to-day life, but he's also designed and built a stunning piece of small-space architecture. With skills and vision like Anthony's, his future is certainly bright.

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