A few weeks ago I was at a conference where Bill Dunster of ZEDFactory was speaking. All sorts of fascinating ideas popped up in his presentation, but one of them was this: the ZedPod. It’s a cheap and low carbon solution to Britain’s current housing shortage. Perhaps most intriguing of all , it requires no extra land.
Dunster’s idea is to build houses on stilts, so that they can be built on top of existing car parks. There’s still room for the cars underneath, so it doesn’t compete with existing land use. In fact, it dramatically multiplies the income from those car parks, so councils and supermarkets and retail parks might want to take a good long look.
The homes themselves are modular and prefabricated, delivered on site and installed with a forklift truck and minimum disruption. There’s a test home at BRE in Watford. Each house costs around £65,000, so they’re small and affordable and aimed at teachers, nurses, and key workers. They would work as student accommodation, or as starter homes for individuals or couples.
For that relatively low price you get a little home with its own front door and balcony, a downstairs with micro-kitchen, living room and bathroom, and a mezzanine with one bedroom. Because it’s built to a high standard, and equipped with solar power and battery storage, it has very low energy needs. Depending on your lifestyle of course, it is quite possible to pay no energy bills at all over the course of a year. Again, perfect for young people and key workers on lower incomes.
Yes, you’d be living in a car park, but in a neat little pop-up village that is close to amenities and workplaces, with low expenses. It’s a small price to pay for a starter home. If they’re built in rows, there’s room for shared outdoor space and little gardens too.
I think this is an idea with major potential. Imagine these above the big car parks at the park and ride, with residents able to bus into work. What about supermarkets installing them for their own workers, hospitals providing on-site housing for trainee nurses. Imagine councils making their car parks available for low cost housing. Luton has vast areas of land used for airport parking. Let’s double up on that space and solve our housing shortage at the same time. I’ve got some local lobbying to do, by the looks of it.
For any questions about the ZedPods, and more photos, have a look at the website.