While the Welsh Police were left to defend their purchase of three garden ‘cabins’ – essentially lifestyle cabins at a cost of about $NZD27,000 – it was interesting that everybody accepted that they were fit for purpose (it was just the purpose for which they were purchased that was questioned).
It seems the Welsh Police were accused of purchasing them for relaxation, while the South Wales Police and Crimes Commissioner Alun Michael argued they would be used for inspirational courses at the new police training centre.
The media said: “The cabins are normally to be seen in middle-class suburban gardens, where they provide homeowners with a comfortable place to relax during the summer.”
Commissioner Michael said that compared to providing dedicated meeting spaces within the main building at a cost of £4,135 per square metre, the cabins “at a cost of £14,000 provide a relatively cheap and simple option which enables small group project work to be developed and maintained.”
Michael does have a point. Even here it’s not unusual for Kiwi families to renovate their homes to add an additional room as a study or activity room for between $2,500 and $3,000 per square metre. However, a lifestyle cabin, made from solid timber – so it has that retreat feel to it – goes for less than a thousand dollars per square metre.
The Welsh Police also got something right – besides their appreciation of a ‘garden cabin’ as providing better bang for the buck than renovating or remodelling an existing structure – and that was their understanding of the ‘cabins’ as a place of inspiration.
Noise pollution is one of the biggest scourges in modern life. Researchers tell us that a large portion of the general population is exposed to noise levels that could result in long-term adverse effects on hearing.
Another issue is the pace of life. One study found that people are on average walking 10 – 15 per cent faster than they did twenty or thirty years ago. That we are more likely than before to eat fast, talk fast and walk fast.
Even at home, we are bombarded by noise and activity – cooking, smells, the television, computers, our mobile phones, the radio, interaction within the family etc. Finding a spot where you can go to read, think, create, meditate or as in the Welsh Police, look for inspiration, can be like trying to find an oasis in the desert. Lifestyle cabins are one way to create your own space, your own oasis – a bubble that’s all your own – at home.
And here’s a significant fact.
Studies have found that there is something about wood that has a calming effect on us. Wood, particularly in an environment like a log or pine wood cabin, reduces stress because of its emotional qualities – wood, how it feels, looks and smells, gives us a sense of tranquillity, a soothing effect and homeliness that makes us feel close to nature.