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I have very recently moved house. In most ways it is for the better, but when it comes to garage space – not so much. So what to do?

As regular readers might have noticed, I am currently relatively concerned about how to store classic cars at our new home on the island of Funen. As at my former house, there is plenty of space here – but the existing barn and surrounding buildings are currently not entirely ready for classic cars. And then fate would have it, that while exploring a scenic detour on my way home from the hardware store, I passed by a Nissen hut:

Suddenly there was a fine Nissen Hut right by the roadside. Could you? Would you?

Could that be a solution? In fact, I have always been quite fascinated by the Nissen Hut: It’s a design which is almost as simple as it is ingenious, and in fact the building type is claimed to be the world’s most widespread. Which, among other things, stems from the fact that it was used extensively by the British and several other armies, but also because a Nissen Hut can in fact be many different things.

The Hut has its name after the inventor, Major Peter Norman Nissen, and in its original form from around 1916 it was a wooden and/or steel skeleton construction covered with curved corrugated sheet metal. It was originally manufactured in three widths (16, 24 and 30 feet), while it in principle it was infinitely variable lengthwise as it was modular in modules of 6 feet each. The original design was invented to a brief of being cheap and transportable, and the Nissen Hut certainly lived up to that. The fact that it at the same time proved to be incredibly strong, especially in relation to its simplicity and price, was merely a bonus.

Major Nissen in front of his invention.

According to Wikipedia (which I must resort to seeing as I can’t find my real encyclopaedia after moving) more than 100,000 were built alone in the First World War, after which it was sold for civilian use during the interwar years, and then of course experiencing another boom during World War II. Despite corrugated metal having an profound ability to rust quite merrily, many a Nissan Hut is still standing. Not necessarily where they were originally set up, because after the war years superfluous huts were often sold off and moved for other purposes in other places.

To the best of my knowledge the Nissen Hut (and variations there of) are still being built to this day, basically because the design is still brilliant to this day. It has been used for everything from soldiers over cattle to hangars and habitation – so why not for a classic car garage? Yes, why indeed not? I have no idea what was stored in the one I passed (if anything), but as it appeared to have a door large enough to let in any car (or indeed lorry, should one be so inclined). So a SLC and XJ12 would surely present no problem.

While there are certainly possibilities in the existing barn buildings, I have not yet figured out quite how to get the most out of them. Currently I am in the process of removing the hay!

Could there be a Nissen Hut in my backyard? Yes, actually there could. But would it be harmonious with the rest of the property? No, I actually don’t think it would, so I’m still constantly drawing up small sketches of the two existing buildings on how to best convert them. But should I fail, maybe a Nissen Hut might still be a solution. Are you struggling with a similar issue – maybe you need a Nissen Hut in your life?

 

5 Responses

  1. yrhmblhst

    Hmmm…didnt know you called em that, but there are lots of those in use in this end of the world. However, just given the tiny little shot of the tiny little corner of your barn, I would discourage one of those metal buildings and encourage you to use / repurpose the what-appears-to-be-exceptionally-cool-buildings already there. I know, more work and more money, but i bet the current structures look way cool…

    Reply
  2. Claus Ebberfeld

    Well, @yrhmblhst , in your part of the world the huts are maybe better known as a “Quonset hut” – which is an American development of the Nissen Hut.

    Regarding my existing buildings: Well, I see what you mean – based on that tiny little corner that I managed to photograph. However: Entirely unintentional that photo manages to show the two sole walls that are actually the original (and I agree rather beautiful) timbered structure. Unfortunately most others have been changed to a more modern structure making the choice much more difficult. In my old house I had the timbered structure restored but here someone got there first and chose otherwise.

    The below photo shows one of the buildings more in in full: Not ideal for an almost five meter long XJ12.

    Reply
  3. yrhmblhst

    Well…Ive rethought my answer after seeing your reply and, more importantly, researching the area where you have moved. I now suggest a nissen hut, at least in the short term for your cars , and think you should finish out the existing building into living space, as I think I may move in! What a beautiful area!
    Kindly leave enough space for my Jeep and one motorcycle there in the bottom – the rest can be living area and a small kitchen with the bedroom there in the loft. I like blues and light browns in furniture and decorating touches…but whatever you want is fine. Lemme know when its close to being done and I’ll start making arrangements… ;) ;) ;)

    Reply
  4. Claus Ebberfeld

    As we agree on the blues and light browns I basically just need to know the height of your Jeep, @yrhmblhst – then we should be ready to welcome you in the Summer of 2020 and make sure that the Jeep fits. And I mean that. No, really, I do!

    Yes, this is really a nice little area of Denmark, and might I suggest you tow a small boat behind that Jeep? You’ll have a wonderful time here, I’m sure.

    Of course even failing to bring boat and Jeep you’re still welcome. I still have some months to figure out how to solve the garage question, but I guarantee we’ll have space for American guests :-)

    Reply
  5. yrhmblhst

    Guests? You misunderstood… Im moving in! ;) ;) ;)
    Thank you for the welcome – should I make it over some day when I get rich and famous – working on getting to Revival maybe next year – i shall take you up on it. The area looks great.
    Oh, and the Jeep is 72″ tall….

    Reply

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