Earlier this year Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust (MAEDT) and Social Farms and Gardens Scotland made the most of those quiet winter lockdown months. They worked together to develop and build a low-cost open-source design for a shelter. Our Scottish climate can’t always be relied on to stay warm and dry so a shelter is an essential bit of kit for outdoor activities. We were delighted to help the project along as throughout the pandemic we’ve been hearing how more people have been taking their activities outdoors and we are keen to support them to get outside.

The open-source aspect of the project means we can share the design and construction with other groups across Scotland. The basic idea was to keep people dry and out of the wind with something relatively flexible that could be moved and added to over time. It is sturdy enough to withstand the Scottish weather, but a team of volunteers is able to move it.

Why did they need a shelter?

The work is part of the Green Hub pilot at the Pavilion garden engaging the community in gardening and social activities and raising awareness of climate change action. The garden needed the shelter to be able to host activities for a variety of local community groups including schools and playgroups who seek to move some activities outdoors to remain operational but require some form of outdoor shelter to be able to plan irrespective of rain, wind or shine!

The shelter has proved invaluable and has been a hub of activity. It was used by Rainbows, Scouts, Brownies, families at Stay and Play sessions, the Wheelbeing Hub sessions (a bike fixing project), Artlink Scotland (for boxing/self confidence sessions with a young person) and volunteer gardeners who were busy re-building and sorting the garden ready for the new season. 


The big benefit of the shelter is that they have been able to be open consistently (even if limited) during lockdown and beyond. Groups and individuals have a safe and sheltered outdoor space to meet in, work in, play in and learn in.  The shelter has really boosted the useability of their garden throughout the pandemic and is going to come into its own again during winter as it will help to extend our outdoor activities and work in the garden. 

Future developments

The shelter is just part of the development of their outdoor space. Once the initial garden work is completed they plan to connect with the growing network of community gardens in the Midlothian area to share resources and ideas. Not that there is a shortage of good ideas, their future plans include the development of a children’s play area, raising funds to install a Keder greenhouse to offer more protected growing options, building a central raised bed area and planting a multi stemmed white birch for reflection and ‘wish’ messages on special occasions.

Open-source design

So if you are in need of a bit of kit that welcomes folk in and encourages more use of your outdoor space then this could be just what you are looking for. The shelter is much more than just a structure with a transparent roof and removable sides – it’s a gathering place, a spot where connections are made, skills are learnt and conversations are had.

Take a look at the detailed design guide. The materials used are suggestions that all could be substituted to suit needs and specifications.

Shelter Build Guide

Better Outside resources

For lots of other inspiring ideas for activities, equipment and structures to get you outdoors look at our other Better Outside resources too.

Better Outside resources

Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting greenspace scotland’s Better Outside – Using Our Spaces More project. This funding allowed us to work with Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust and Social Farms and Gardens Scotland to produce technical drawings of the shelter design and make it freely available as open source.