After Steven Hardwood's Kite Cabin took home top prize (and a year's supply of cheese) in last year's Readersheds/Shedblog-hosted Shed of the Year design competition, I blogged about the distinctly British garden shed phenomenon:

Although plenty of folks in North America have garden sheds, the cultural obsession with small structures meant for housing tools, gardening equipment, material overflow from the main home, and maybe even granny when she’s in town for a visit isn’t quite the same as it is in the UK.

In the US, garden sheds — often prefab metal or vinyl-sided structures — are commonly neglected and filled with junk. They aren’t places for people; they’re places for stuff. Spacious garages with ample storage space and workshops are generally the norm.

Across the Pond, however, garden sheds are treated as a vital extension of the home and as the man of the house’s own private retreat. They’re celebrated, heavily utilized, thoughtfully designed, and often lived in (backyard “cottages” have gotten quite a bit of attention since the recession-borne small house trend started). They’re even often a deal-breaker when it comes to real estate transactions. “What a beautiful home! But the shed out back doesn’t seem to be up-to-snuff. Let’s move on.”

So okay, a garden shed design competition may not have the same cultural resonance in the States as it does in the UK but it’s still pretty fun to read about, especially in the case of the just-announced 2010 Shed of the Year winner: Reg Miller’s fantastical, piratical, and totally over-the-top, The Lady Sarah Out of Worthing.

Miller’s "purpose built pirate's cabin built to look like the poop deck of a pirate ship moored at a Caribbean dock, complete with fully stocked koi carp pond and aviary" is actually moored in Southend-on-the-Sea, Essex, and is made entirely from recycled and reclaimed materials and (funny enough, I encountered a similarly decorated ice cream shack while camping near the Finger Lakes this past weekend ). Not surprisingly, Miller's shed was placed in the "unique" category amongst the 1,250 competition entrants. 

Here’s what Miller, the proud recipient of £1000 and a shed full of Cuprinol wood treatment products (no cheese this year, sadly) himself has to say about his structure:

I’ve spent years working on my shed and to win Shed of the Year 2010 is a real thrill – it’s the ultimate accolade for shed owners! It’s still a work in progress, as I’m constantly adding to my collection of pirate memorabilia and props and the shed is slowly but surely taking over the whole garden. It’s become a real talking point in the area and since I entered it in the competition, I’ve had loads of really positive comments from sheddies around the globe – it really seems to have caught everyone’s imagination! Funnily enough, I’ll be spending my winnings repairing my decking at the top of the garden! It has recently collapsed and I really want to spruce it up again so that I can use it for the summer and yes, I will be using Cuprinol products.
And a remark from one of this year’s judge’s, TreeHugger’s Lloyd Alter:
Arggh, matey, what can one say? it’s made from recycled materials, it
is not just a shed but a complete environment where Johnny Depp would feel at home.
pieces of eight and a bottle of rum for the Lady Sara! Humour, style,
 energy all in one.
For more photos and info about The Lady Sarah Out of Worthing and this year's shed design competition, head on over to Shedblog. And don't forget to check out the video tour below. 
Via [TreeHugger]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Sheds ahoy! Shed of the Year 2010
The piratical The Lady Sarah Out of Worthing wins top prize in the 2010 Shed of the Year design competition.