But now the common garden hut is “having its moment” with 18 of them transformed into art installations by leading architects and designers and starring in the “Ideal Hut Show” which opens today at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).
Architects taking part range from Benedetta Tagliabue of Miralles Tagliabue, architects of the Scottish Parliament, Kelpies designer Andy Scott to one-man firm such as Craig Amy Architect from Prestonpans, East Lothian.
The exhibition is a headline event of the Festival of Architecture and a key milestone in the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.
Themes vary from the fun-filled turquoise Tartan Hut by Isabel and Clara Garriga from Holmes Miller Architects which is covered with jokes about architects and engineers and the Notional Theatre of Scotland puppet theatre by Malcolm Fraser to ‘A Room of One’s Own’ by the late David Mackay with an interior of footprints of a soldier’s boots and a barefoot child which represents the refugee crisis.
Isabel Garriga, originally from Spain, said her hut reflected the Scottish personality.
“We designed it to look like turquoise and black tartan but thought, that like many Scots it looked too serious. Scots are very sarcastic and humorous so we added the jokes like ‘why to engineers like fixing steel work together? Because it is riveting’”.
Mr Amy’s ‘Night and Day’ hut features “portholes” through which can be seen panoramic views inside of Balquhidder Glen which is given depth when reflected on the hut’s stainless steel floor and natural lighting from its glass roof.
“I work as a ‘one man band’ so for me to be involved in a headline event with some of the most famous architects in Scotland and with the Scottish Parliament architect is quite exciting.”
Peter Smith and David Fleck of Glasgow-based Page\Park Architects describe their ‘Nothing To See Here’ hut as a “riff on curiosity.” Despite its name it has a host of periscope-like coloured tubes giving a view of the interior which has a copper box lit by sunshine and light bouncing off it.
Eva Jiricna’s ‘Ideal Hut’ is a a giant red, white and blue ellipse which organisers describe as “beautiful and very elegant.”
Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, who curated the exhibition, said: “This exhibition shows what architects can do when confronted by a creative challenge and a very small budget.
“Fifteen of these huts are designed by architects, two by leading artists and one by our own, Dr Who obsessive, graphic designer.
“They have been built, brilliantly by Jim Bryceland and Peter Dickson, both renowned Scottish craftsmen in their own right.
“Creative Scotland has funded the tour. We hope the public will enjoy them as much as we have and that when they are auctioned off for charity at the end of the tour.”
Simon Milne, Regius Keeper at the RBGE Simon said: “Even though we have some of Edinburgh’s finest buildings, spanning four centuries of architecture, there is always room in a garden for the humble and not so humble garden shed.
The exhibition runs until 30 May then moves to Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness and Perth.