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:
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.
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.
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?