Debansu Das, Business Development Director at ZED PODS, explains how the ‘Hope Rise’ modular home scheme in Bristol combines an innovative development above a car park with an environmental conscience.
Residents and community builders in the St George area of Bristol are set to move into their new homes, in a landmark development, which provides young people at risk of homelessness somewhere to feel safe and comfortable.
A successful partnership between London based ZED PODS and Bristol City Council, supported by the Bristol Housing Festival and YMCA, has boosted the council’s social housing provision, providing 11 new, zero-carbon, modern design apartments as a permanent living space for vulnerable young people working towards independent living.
‘Hope Rise’ is the first Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) development of its kind to be completed in the UK. Built on the council-owned car park, on Chalks Road in the St. George district of Bristol, ZED PODS used volumetric manufacturing technology to build the homes in the least disruptive way without much noise, pollution or onsite waste.
This multiple award-winning project gives all local authorities some food for thought. At a time when maintaining revenues, as well as increasing housing stock, is paramount, councils can build these zero carbon affordable houses above their car park portfolio using the clean MMC construction.
‘Hope Rise’ showcases something truly innovative, rethinking land use to help solve the housing crisis with the provision of attractive and modern housing. These are low-rent, but high-quality homes with aspirational design and build quality, and their low running costs enhance their affordability.
“We wanted to address key worker and affordable housing issues without compromising on our values of sustainability and quality,” says ZED PODS’ Operations Director, Dr. Rehan Khodabuccus.
“We are very pleased that Bristol City Council had the foresight to partner with us directly and are so enthusiastic about the potential for more developments like this. With momentum, quality modular housing can play a leading role in city centre provision.”
Education, collaboration and community
The MMC sector has very few demonstrable examples of delivered schemes on ground, so, back in 2018, ZED PODS embarked on a process to focus on the challenges and to overcome barriers to the project, including awareness. To get this development off the ground has proved to be increasingly important, working through the COVID-19 pandemic while much of the construction sector slowed down.
Developed and tested at the Building Research Establishments, ZED PODS is the only product suited to be built above car parks and, with attention to fire, quality, noise, air quality and utilities, and the buildings have earned accreditations from The Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme for the entire built system, which includes the steel podium.
A partnership and joint exhibition with the Bristol Housing Festival launched the project, with an offer to provide 11 houses for young people making a start in life, which include two properties being offered to ‘community builders’, inviting applications from young, local tenants of Bristol City Council under the age of 35.
ZED PODS worked with BHF and the council to progress the project, following the completion of a detailed analysis of the challenges and potential barriers. The company identified site constraints and satisfied local planning implications, and demonstrated speed of construction, permanency and sustainability of the product. And Thomas Northway, Chairman, says ZED PODS is delighted to complete the innovative project despite the challenges of the pandemic: “Collaborating with the council, BHF and the Bristol YMCA on this pioneering scheme, we have demonstrated how good quality, affordable homes can be built quickly on constrained sites like car parks using offsite construction.”
The driving ambition was to find innovative ways to create a community and, in consultation with the YMCA, the development was designed to ensure that support networks are in place for tenants, with ease of tenant interaction and an increase in neighbourliness.
Energy and cost-efficiency
The ‘Hope Rise’ development uses the latest low carbon technologies ensuring low energy consumption and cheaper running costs, using volumetric offsite manufacturing technology. Built on the principle of fabric first approach combined with renewable technologies, each self-contained home uses solar panels to generate renewable electricity in the day, quiet running heat pumps, controlled ventilation to recover usable heat, triple glazing and LED lighting.
There are no toxic materials, no urea-based insulation systems, low VOC paints and adhesives, vapour permeable and breathing wall construction, and the product is suited to be built over steel frames especially above car parks, with a fully structured engineered system and foundations, with minimal onsite disruption.
Growing social housing crisis
A recent report published by the National Housing Federation (NHF) has revealed that the real social housing waiting list could be as many as 500,000 households bigger than official figures suggest.
The NHF’s People in Housing Need analysis is the most comprehensive study to date on the state of the UK’s housing stock crisis, and it states that the true number of people in need of social housing in England has now hit 3.8m, which equates to 1.6m households, half a million more than the number recorded on official waiting lists.
Providing affordable housing remains a huge headache for local authorities, and we can no longer rely on traditional methods of construction, on environmental grounds as well as to solve a problem, which is in danger of escalating out of control. The cost of housing vulnerable tenants in temporary accommodation continues to rise and the UK is in desperate need of long-term solutions. We must continue to think outside the box and develop our understanding of the options available.
As the energy market cannot be serviced by one source alone (the world still needs a combination of green energies, nuclear and a reducing reliance on fossil fuels); so the construction sector, particularly in social housing, must use new but tried technology to tackle the challenge.
ZED PODS is playing its part. The company has developed a unique solution, which offers highly energy-efficient, superior quality modular homes to enhance the lives of the new residents in Bristol, but this is by no means where the story ends.
With wide acclaim and awards in the bag, including the South West Insider magazine Social Housing Award 2020, ZED PODS is ready and geared up to produce more developments which can make a real impact, and inroads into the national social housing crisis; by building in a different way to shift the landscape of the industry and strengthen communities the length and breadth of the country.