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The Warsaw Voice » Other » June 25, 2008
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Working From Your Garden
June 25, 2008   
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The garden-office is already a common architectural concept in Scandinavia and English-speaking countries. The idea is for small buildings that function as home offices to be sited in natural garden environments. Today, working from home for at least a few days a week is a realistic proposition for a growing number of people, and the garden office allows them to isolate themselves in peaceful surroundings that are conducive to work and away from domestic bustle.

The subject of working from home attracted interest during a conference for real estate developers in London in January. There is a clear and growing tendency in Britain to design small free-standing office units next to where people live: in green areas on housing estates and next to single-family homes. Moreover, property developers in other countries are lobbying for a change to European Union building law to allow the construction of such buildings throughout the EU without the need for building permission. British real estate analysts and experts for several years have been pointing to the growing trend for garden offices.

The popularity of garden offices in Britain stems no doubt from simplified administration procedures for this type of construction and no building permission requirement for buildings of less than some 20 sq m in area. Other reasons for the demand for garden offices is the growing popularity of flexible working hours in Britain and the recent trend for mobile offices.

Garden-office buildings are increasingly well equipped as market requirements become more sophisticated. It has become standard that many have power supply and water and sewerage connections. Depending on size, some have bathrooms and a small kitchen annex. The offices are assembled in a factory and transported in one piece to the site. Final on-site assembly can be completed in just one day. Thanks to such mobile solutions, the construction process is really a purchase of a ready-made unit. Leasing of garden offices is another increasingly popular option.

After changes in mid-October last year to Polish law governing working from home, more and more Polish businesses are also thinking about allowing some of their employees to work away from the traditional office. Thus it comes as no surprise that the garden-office concept has appeared on the Polish market. Buma Building Systems, a firm based in Cracow, produces this type of unit. The modules do not come cheap but they are well equipped and finished in top-quality materials. The units are paned in glass from floor to ceiling and feature walls made of keramzyt (a brand of light expanded clay aggregate). This is a proposal for top managers, though the possibility of deducting the leasing costs of such buildings from earnings has made the idea of garden offices more convincing and attractive to many firms.

Meanwhile, the construction and disassembly of these garden offices on tall steel supports is ecological since neither process interferes with the natural environment. Says Buma CEO Jacek Michalski: "The basic advantage of garden-office module technology is its mobility. We are able to build the module in the factory and winch it into position on site. In this way we avoid damaging the site, as would be the case in long-term construction. The special structure does not need dug foundations and can be sited on all shapes of terrain. There is minimal disruption to the natural environment and disassembly of the garden office, once it is no longer needed in a particular location, is easy."

Anna Kępińska
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