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 for a Hertfordshire Low Carbon SME Innovation Support "Hotel energy saving challenge" workshop which was indeed very interesting.

Before lunch John O'Brien took us on a tour of the BRE Innovation Park with examples of different home ideas/types/constructions.

Two buildings that stood out for me could both be called tiny houses, each a little over twenty square metres floorspace, good for compact, efficient, single living in dense urban areas and odd-lot infill. Good for students, key workers, and those on their first jobs also. Imagine a hospital car-park full of really affordable and modern first homes, and for the ZEDpod, not even taking up any parking spaces!

KODA House

KODA House kitchen from above

The first, the KODA House, was only officially unveiled yesterday, so still almost hot off the flatbed lorry...

Like all tiny houses there's some excess pretty design, and some compromises, such as getting in or out of bed includes a 0.5m+ step which I wouldn't like to take in the middle of the night or if ill, and the quadruple glazing is apparently overkill too. And no bath, just a big shower in a wet-room. And does no one in a tiny house loft bed ever roll over heavily in the night? In this one that could result in a rapid and unplanned visit to the kitchen...

This has some really interesting design details, such as vacuum insulated panels in the walls for good sound- and cold- proofing, and dark kitchen units to absorb low winter sun and thus maximise solar gain.

I'd rent one as a studio apartment, for an assignment away from home for example, but 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, but over-engineered in parts, and under-engineered in basic aspects like being able to get out of bed safely in the dark...
  • The KODA House from Kodasema is a movable concrete house needing 30m^2 per unit. "Elegant sail-patterned houses create a vibrant mixture of hotels and homes, cafes and studios, a community space or a business hub in a snap. Temporary building permits and meanwhile planning enable the meaningful use of transitory or vacant plots in the city centrals."
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

ZEDpod

ZEDpod exterior

The ZEDpod (WARNING: autoplay muzak) is a clever idea, to use the headroom above the cars in existing car parks, and without needing foundations, for some efficient tiny living. The ZEDpod that I looked at, standing rather lonely by itself, felt more practically engineered inside, and I'm a big fan of sticking loads of solar PV on top with a communal battery to reduce grid demands to a trickle. Think of the opportunities in supermarket and hospital car parks, and with possibly the ability to charge some EVs too.

Five parking spaces is enough land to host one ZEDpod.

Air pollution (eg particulates) was discussed as a possible concern, from the cars beneath, but there is no particular reason to feel that this would be worse than living next to a busy road, or houses with attached garages.

The ZEDpod also had the tiniest washing machine that I have ever seen, certainly fine as long as one wears (or at least washes) nothing more substantial than a thong and T-shirt, but a pair of jeans would concern me! It does feature a cold wash, which is great from an energy-saving point of view.

ZEDpods do not need to be assembled on-site or in a huge central factory, but instead "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 and not feeling at all cramped; even had decent bannister/handrail on the stairs, often omitted from 'tiny' houses.
  • "ZEDpods [from ZEDfactory] provide first homes for young people and key workers - erected above existing parking lots close to amenities and jobs. ZEDpod occupants enjoy their own balcony and front door, a kitchen and dining table, their own bathroom, a lounging space and a stair leading to a mezzanine floor bedspace with home office desk, double bed and wardrobe. The Pods are built to higher standards than conventional homes with superinsulation, vapour permeable draught proofed construction, heat recovery ventilation, aluminium clad triple glazing, hot dip galvanised structural frame with timber infill panels and external insulation. The external envelope is designed to be around 20 years to first maintenance and is constructed from fireproof, durable and robust materials."
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Follow the links for more information on both KODA house and ZEDpods.

Thank you BRE and Hertfordshire Low Carbon SME Innovation Support for an interesting day!