ZEDpods: The answer to the Cambridge housing crisis?
ZEDpods Ltd, a new independent UK company, is providing a unique solution to the challenges of building affordable homes in cities where land is scarce or expensive. The ZEDpod is a low-cost, pre-fabricated, energy-efficient micro home which needs no land, sitting on an elevated platform above outdoor car parks.
The pods use otherwise unused space and require only air rights.
ZEDpods has been funded via the Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) with the objective of manufacturing and erecting them across the UK.
Designed by award-winning zero carbon design and development company ZEDfactory, ZEDpods offer an affordable starter home for singles or couples and a housing solution for key workers, student accommodation and general needs.
The pods can be installed as singles or doubles and as a ‘community’ cluster. The entry-level model of the fully-installed homes costs just £65,000 and can be bought outright if air rights are signed over, or can be installed then let for about £650 a month.
The revolutionary ZEDpod system delivers low-cost quality homes on stilts that stand over the bays of ground-level parking. During the day, commuters, shoppers and hospital visitors park just as they always have, but underneath the homes. However, at night, as the car parks empty, residents return home to their space-efficient and eco-friendly abodes, bringing life to otherwise deserted car parks.
One such ZEDpod is located on a car park at the Watford HQ of the Building Research Establishment, which carries out research, consultancy and testing for the construction and built environment sectors in the UK.
The site is open to visitors and the pod gives a clear indication of what the concept would look like if extended to other parts of the country. This could well catch on in Cambridge, offering a viable solution to problems of space and spiralling costs.
The Cambridge Independent put some questions to Bill Dunster, principal of ZEDfactory.
Tell us about yourself, Bill.
“I am an architect and masterplanner specialising in making a zero-carbon future happen as quickly as possible. I am the instigator and director of ZEDpods Co.”
What is the ZEDPod and where did the idea come from? What makes them so unique?
“ZEDpods provide first homes for young people and key workers that can be erected in a few days above existing parking lots close to amenities and jobs.
“There are 1.2 million public parking spaces in the UK, allowing the ZEDpod concept to make a very significant contribution to help solving the UK housing shortage without local authorities having to find land or funding.
“We anticipate between one and five per cent of these existing parking spaces having potential for ZEDpods, creating between 10,000 and 50,000 homes nationally per year, with up to 200,000 homes deliverable over a five- to 10-year period.
“No land already identified for housing is used up and the homes are full zero-carbon spec and make very little demand on existing power infrastructure.
“I came up with the idea because it was clear that very little land would be affordable for homes for young people.”
Has there been a big reaction?
“Yes, there has been a wide range of interest from across the country. We are aiming to launch the first homes towards the end of the summer.”
Have you had a lot of interest from other companies?
“Yes, there are about 500 pods currently at different stages of discussion.”
What concerns have people raised?
“The biggest misconception is over air quality. Because car engines are turned off, air quality in car parks is far better than almost any residential street with moving traffic.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I am to provide 200,000 affordable zero-carbon micro homes with zero net annual energy bills for young people in the UK – with pop-up local assembly barns enabling local people to create their own housing solution without involving volume housebuilders or using up any land already identified for housing.”