As many of us well know: just about everyone who’s been working from home since March 2020 has been doing a serious assessment of just how feasible it is for the long haul. And for some, that means getting out of the house altogether—and into the backyard.
Calgary designer Sumer Singh of Mercedes and Singh is the go-to designer for custom fabrication projects in the Calgary design community—and as a furniture designer with his line, Mtharu, Western Living magazine named him One to Watch back in 2015.
While custom work has kept him in high demand in 2020, he saw a very-present need for easy-to-install, prefab backyard huts. And with degrees in engineering and architecture (he also teaches the latter at the University of Calgary), he knew his team at Mercedes and Singh could design something beautiful.
“It’s an architectural project, but in essence, we want to approach them as fabrication project, because we can find certain efficiencies when you approach architectural projects as fabrication projects,” says Singh. “There's a lot of efficiencies that happen when it comes to supply chain. Thinking about the architecture holistically, along with the materiality and fabrication is where a lot of our efficiencies and strengths come in with this project.”
The plans for their prefab rooms started development this past September, and the first design, shown here, has just been launched, with two more to follow in the coming weeks. This one, a straight-forward 12’ by 8’ box, is roomy enough for a home office, a yoga-1 studio, a gym or a flex space. The second design will feature a Nordic-influence pitched roof, and the third is a bit larger, with a variation that will include a loft space for use as a guest house.
The steel structures are constructed onsite at the Mercedes and Singh shop in Calgary, and interiors are finished in a clear-coated birch veneer, with engineered floors. They’re fully insulated with a recycled-denim insulation, and perhaps the best part: they’re set-up to be installed without any additional electrical requirements—all you need is a 110v extension cord. “It comes with a 1500 watt space heater that’s controlled by a smartphone via Bluetooth,” says Sing. “And it has three power plugs with USBs, a power plug with a wireless phone charger, and LED pop lights on a dimmer switch.”
The team can also provide a few options for made-to-fit furniture designs—a desk, for example—that they can make and send secured within the unit for transportation. “But we're leaving it pretty open,” says Singh. “Because you never know what people want to use these for, whether it's a backyard office or we've had inquiries for an exercise room, a studio space, a guest suite.”
The spaces are available for purchase from Calgary to transport anywhere across North America, and Singh is also in talks with local dealers in Vancouver, Toronto, Saskatchewan and Boston, too. Designs start at $18,000 CDN.