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A New Breed of Buildings

A new book explores the rise of big-shed architecture, with stunning color photographs of the world's best and biggest exhibition spaces, factories, stadiums, and airports.

Reshaping everything from train stations to concert halls, a new breed of architects is changing the fabric of our everyday lives with imaginative colossal buildings. Big Shed is a new book that surveys the rise of the big-shed trend over the past 20 years, with stunning photographs of landmark buildings by architects Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Toyo Ito, and many others.

See our slide show of the world's most innovative big sheds by clicking on the link in the box at the right. And read an excerpt from Big Shed below.

To set foot in the departure lounge of Kansai Airport for the first time can be a humbling experience. This extraordinary one-and-a-half-kilometer (one-mile) long tube gently curves in three dimensions, its steel ribs, woven like a wicker basket, stretching above our heads into the distance. At first this enormous room seems reminiscent only of science fiction, yet there is also something about it that is quite familiar. We can recall searching for frozen peas among the endless featureless aisles of a provincial superstore, playing five-a-side football under yellowish light in an echoing sports centre, and being jostled in the dark recesses of a vast warehouse by a frantic crowd in search of cut-price Scandinavian furniture. Unlike the grandeur of Kansai these memories are of buildings that aren't credited with the title of 'architecture' at all. Instead they are usually described as 'sheds'--or, as they are often of a considerable size, 'big sheds'. But what does this choice of vocabulary entail?

'Shed' tends to describe a building whose purpose is not apparent from the outside, and which consists of simple diagrammatic spaces rather than functionally determined rooms. A 'shed,' unlike a 'building,' warrants no assumption of permanence, and is viewed as having a specific, and comparatively short, lifespan. These simple boxes litter the outskirts of our towns and cities and service the space-hungry, low-cost functions with which we have become familiar. During the past twenty years both the number and size of these structures has risen greatly. At the time of writing a proposal for the largest building in Europe is planned for a site at Pyrstock, in England. Described in the press as 'The Megashed,' it is designed to service a supermarket chain and will have floorspace of 116,125 square metres (1.25 million square feet), larger than London's Millennium Dome.

Reprinted from Big Shed by Will Pryce, published by Thames and Hudson in June 2007.

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