Earth Notes: BRE Tiny House Trove

Unexpected tiny treats in the Low Carbon area. Came for workshop, saw some great LZC ideas to meet housing need!
KODA House front

Today (2017/06/29) I visited the BRE in Watford. BRE was hosting the "Hotel energy saving challenge" workshop.

John O'Brien took us on a quick tour of the BRE Innovation Park. The park hosts many home build types.

Two buildings that stood out for me could both be called tiny houses. Each was a little over twenty square metres' floorspace. Good for compact, efficient, single living in dense urban areas. And for odd-lot infill. Good for students, key workers, and those in their first jobs also. Imagine a hospital car-park with, above the cars, many affordable and modern first homes. ZEDpods would not eat up any parking spaces.

KODA House

KODA House kitchen from above

The first, the KODA House, was only officially unveiled yesterday. Hot off the flatbed lorry...

As with all tiny houses there's some excess pretty design, and some compromise. Getting in or out of bed includes a 0.5m+ step. Which I wouldn't like to take in the middle of the night. Nor when ill or tiddly. The quadruple glazing is overkill too. And no bath. Just a big shower in a wet-room. Also, does no one in a tiny house loft bed ever roll over heavily in the night? In this house that could result in an unplanned visit to the kitchen... Eek.

This house has some really interesting details. The vacuum insulated panels in the walls provide for good sound- and cold- proofing. Dark kitchen units absorb low winter sun to maximise solar gain.

I'd rent one as a studio apartment. It would work for work away from home. But I would ask for some small mods to deal with the safety/comfort niggles.

Summary Review

  • KODA House
  • Reviewed by: Damon Hart-Davis on 2017/06/29
  • Pleasant overall. Over-engineered in parts. Under-engineered in others such as being able to get out of bed safely...
  • The KODA House from Kodasema is a movable concrete house. 30m^2 per unit.
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

ZEDpod

ZEDpod exterior

The ZEDpod (WARNING: autoplay muzak) is a clever idea. ZEDPod uses the headroom in existing car parks for efficient tiny living. No foundations needed. The ZEDpod that I looked at was standing rather lonely by itself. It felt well engineered inside. And I'm a sucker for sticking loads of solar PV on top. Plus a communal battery to reduce grid demands to a trickle. Think of the opportunities in supermarket and hospital car parks. Throw in the ability to charge some EVs too!

Five parking spaces is enough land to host one ZEDpod.

Air pollution (particulates from the cars beneath) was discussed as a possible concern. However, there is no real reason to feel that this would be worse than living next to a busy road.

The ZEDpod also had the tiniest washing machine that I have ever seen. Fine so as long as one wears and washes nothing more substantial than a thong and T-shirt. But a pair of jeans might strain it... It does feature a cold wash. Great from an energy-saving point of view!

ZEDpods do not need to be built on-site. Nor in a huge central factory. "We manufacture a prefabricated kit of parts that is delivered to a local pop-up factory to meet local demand."

Summary Review

  • ZEDpod
  • Reviewed by: Damon Hart-Davis on 2017/06/29
  • Well designed and executed. Not at all cramped. Even had a decent handrail on the stairs. This basic safety feature is often missing from 'tiny' houses.
  • Built to last, and to higher standards than conventional homes.
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Follow the links for more on both the KODA house and the ZEDpod.

Thank you BRE. Thank you Hertfordshire Low Carbon SME Innovation Support. An interesting day!