architecture sustainability

Building of the week: the Koda house

Britain has a shortage of affordable homes and doesn’t build nearly enough new houses every year. Here’s a useful way to accelerate the provision of new homes – the Koda house. It’s made in a factory and delivered on site, where it can be assembled in just 7 hours. Foundations aren’t required. It’s lightweight enough that it just needs a flat and sturdy surface and plumbing connections. And here’s the most radical bit – the house can be dismantled and moved just as easily as it can be assembled.

That makes it possible to build temporary housing on unused land, and then move the houses to the next site when the land is needed.

For example, when I moved to Luton, there was a big patch of unused land five minutes walk away. It was a former school site, and it had been empty for years while various proposals came and went. With Koda houses, the council could have stuck a whole street on there in the meantime, taking pressure of council housing lists or earning rental income. The land could have been used for the whole time, and then the houses could have been sold on or moved if and when other developments came along. There’s empty land in the centre of town that is finally being developed, but could have had Koda office units on it the whole time. With buildings that can be erected or removed in a day, the problem is all to do with planning and land use laws, rather than construction itself.

The Koda house is pretty minimal – it’s designed for two, with one bedroom on the mezzanine. You can add them together as modular units if you need more space. They look like they would make good motel units or holiday homes, or great offices. And at £100,000 to build, and good resale value, they look like a bargain.

Perhaps best of all, this is a highly sustainable building. With less concrete in the whole building than a normal house has in its foundations, it has low embodied energy. Vacuum insulation panels and quadruple glazing ensure high energy performance, and the solar panels on the roof deliver more energy than most households will need.

So, where can you get one? Koda is based in Estonia, so it’s not going to be available to everyone just yet. It launched in the UK this week.

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