A Handsome Culinary Space in Sonoma County

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Jensen Architects creates a versatile backdrop for Shed, a community-minded dining and shopping experience.

Shed is all about locally grown food and ethical eating. To wit, the market, cafe and learning centre has its own on-site grain mill, and their honey is made by holistic beekeepers. Even its 900-square-metre home, which opened in the village of Healdsburg, in California, last year, feels right at home in the sun-drenched hills of California wine country.

Taking cues from the company’s name, Jensen Architects crafted the building like a scaled-up gabled garden shed, both a nod to what goes on inside and a result of the engineering; the frame is assembled from pre-engineered metal building parts – off-the-shelf components typically used to construct rapidly raised barns. Overlooking North Street, Shed’s south-facing facade features a two-storey glass curtain wall that bestows a feeling of openness on the second-floor event space. And throughout the building, roll-up garage-style doors – nine of them – open the indoors to the outdoors on all sides, taking full advantage of Sonoma’s enviable climate.

The interior is loosely split into three different zones, denoted by their oversized-letter signage: Eat, Farm and Cook. “Eat” designates the café, whose open kitchen features local cuisine, including herbs and produce grown on-site in Shed’s terrace planters, as well as a fermentation bar serving local beers, wines and kombucha. “Farm” comprises the ground-floor retail section turned over to locally grown ingredients, gardening supplies and housewares, while “Cook” is an event space, conceived as a modern grange, that hosts private functions, as well as public workshops for cooking and bartending, and even film screenings.

A motif of wooden slats – which line the ceiling, offer shade to the sunny terraces and form the decking and interior privacy screens – lends Shed not only its visual unity, but also adds to the project’s local, green cred: much of the wood finishing is salvaged Monterrey cypress and elm, while the patterned larder casework and shelving is hewn from bay laurel, a locally sourced member of the myrtle family. Like the products on sale in the market, many of the interior furnishings and surfaces were selected by Shed co-founder Cindy Daniel, who drew on her history in the area to find environmentally minded craftsman, manufacturers, consultants, and artisans that shared in the project’s ecological goals.

To that end, although Shed appears to be an open-concept modern take on a barn, it hides a host of energy-saving schemes, both passive ones – such as skylights that allow air to circulate naturally, and a southern overhang that reduces heat gain from the curtail wall – and active ones, including PV panels and a super-efficient HVAC system. The energy-saving insulated metal-panel cladding and recycled steel structure allowed for quick construction with little environmental impact on the restored river habitat adjacent.

While Shed has quickly proved popular with locals, its reputation already reaches nationwide: earlier this year, the project claimed the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurant Design Award, an acknowledgement of a successful collaboration within its community and a great example of sustainable design.

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