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what shedkm means to me, by randal turner

We recently asked members of the shedkm team to give some thoughts in response to ‘what shedkm means to me’. Randal Turner, the practice’s Delivery Lead, gave his spin during an interactive one practice session – focusing on the ethos and approach of the practice, in his eyes.

After gaining crucial experience while running his own practice in Chester for ten years, Randal returned to shedkm as Delivery Lead in 2020, working on the growing portfolio of our contemporary ‘House’ housing schemes across the country. He now continues to evolve shedkm’s designs for delivery by various clients.

my perspective

Having had two tenures at shedkm, I have an unusual perspective on the company. I first joined in 1999 and witnessed the company grow from seven people up to 15 by 2003. When I re-joined in 2020, staff numbers were up in the 50s. So I’ve seen the company as a small practice and as a large one.

I’ve seen shedkm grow from the inside and out. It has changed over the years, which is a good thing. Some external changes have been forced on it. Some have been made with intent. In my opinion controlled change is better than uncontrolled change, but even uncontrolled change can sometimes have positive outcomes.

the name

The name is mysterious – it is slightly enigmatic and is not encumbered with the personal brand of a founder. This is also a good thing. It permits change. It allows us to make and remake what we stand for. For what shedkm stands for. I can see that shedkm has evolved from its roots in the Tea Factory to where we are now. The name affords freedom and opportunity for all who join the team. We are not in the service of one sole visionary, we are a collective that engages in the challenge of creating great architecture.

the ideas

shedkm is collegiate in the sense that it is non-hierarchical when it comes to design – everyone’s ideas are of equal value. shedkm is about testing ideas and challenging the norm – working and re-working new ideas to make a new normal. After all, ‘normal’ once started out as new. We share our ideas with other stakeholders from within and strive to learn from their ideas too.

the architecture

shedkm architecture is about translating our ideas into built form with clarity and boldness. Our architecture is our USP. It is different from others’ work and should remain so. We are shedkm, but our architecture is our calling card.

In developing our architecture we eschew the complex for the simple, always looking to reduce and refine to fundamental forms. This is not easy – the brief often contains conflicting requirements which require translating and resolving to arrive at the right solution.

We believe that clean tectonic forms, clear layouts and bold execution with splashes of colour and honest use of materials can create great architecture and great places. We are inspired by great modern architecture that has gone before and we aspire to create great modern architecture for the future. I see our work as part of a continuum.

the process

shedkm is about understanding and challenging the client’s brief, engaging with stake-holders and with the wider community to realise the potential of a site and the opportunities of the project. Like others, we talk and we write, but we also communicate through drawings. Whether by hand or by CAD, our drawings speak for us, for our ideas and for our architecture. Our drawings start as diagrams, but evolve and resolve into plans, elevations, sections and details that communicate our ideas in different ways to different people.

We think about how to best put buildings together to create great architecture. We strive to understand materials, fabrication and construction processes. We deliver projects by working collaboratively and constructively with other consultants, contractors and sub-contractors.

the future

We shouldn’t fear change, but ideally change should be on our terms, not be forced on us by others. shedkm designs will continue to evolve in the future, to respond to changing circumstances influenced by societal changes influencing clients’ briefs. Environmental goals will challenge us to reduce energy use and embodied carbon. And a raft of other changes to regulations will need addressing too. But while these factors will inform future designs, they should not dictate the design.

We should never lose sight of what is fundamental. The architecture of shedkm.