By Anders Lorenzen
As many of the world’s large cities continue to expand, issues surrounding a lack of housing, especially social, continue to be one of society’s most pressing problems. Creating housing is not easy or quick, and often the slow and lengthy bureaucratic processes which surround planning permission force applications to linger in the system for far too long. And when the permission is granted and buildings finally get built it is often with cheap materials and little focus invested in the quality and sustainable designs which are badly needed – at least if you want to build to withstand the impacts of climate change whilst minimising CO2 emissions.
However, a new product just launched in the UK might have the solutions to both these problems, a true ‘twofer’. Award-winning Estonian developer Kodasema last month launched the revolutionary KODA House at an event held in the BRE Innovation Park north of London.
Shaking up the UK property market
KODA aims to shake up the UK and international property markets by providing a multi-purpose self-build structure that, according to Kodasema, can be used for a variety of things; such as a city centre home, a lakeside summer house, a cosy café, an office, workshop or studio or even a classroom.
Kodasema believes it could prove attractive for developers due to it’s simple modular design which can be erected on site in one day, with a moving in day as early as the following day. It is also highly adaptable and can be easily moved. Furthermore, it does not require extensive digging or foundations, and each unit’s materials can be disassembled and reused easily.
It has been precisely designed so that it can be mounted onto a truck and transported where needed. It is also being touted as perfect for short term accommodation. As Estonia takes over the EU Presidency later this year it will be used to house EU diplomats.
Yet, the price tag of £150,000 might, understandably, scare some, and the amount is too high for social housing. However, the developers are convinced that once production is scaled up, the price can be brought down considerably. A lot of the cost is due to the prefab’s shipping from Estonia, where they’re currently produced. But is is hoped that if there is enough demand in the UK, a manufacturing base can be established there.
Koda’s design features an open-plan living space with a full-height quadruple-glazed window at the front, which provides thermal and acoustic insulation, whilst filling the interiors with natural light. The bathroom and mezzanine bedroom are located at the back of the building. This design makes optimal use of the structures modest amounts of space, and contains living and dining space and terrace to the front.
A focus on sustainability
It is designed to be highly energy-efficient, and included in the design are photovoltaic panels ensuring its carbon footprint is as minimal as possible. Other key features include: Smart home systems (alarm systems, entry system door lock, programmable mood lighting, climate control). Thin, vacuum-insulated concrete walls (keeping the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter). This also enhances noise insulation. And lighting comes in the shape of an innovative LED lighting design. On top of its enhanced energy savings it is also designed to withstand extreme temperatures.
These are early stages in the project, but already the developer have made it clear that it is suitable for stacking, with multi-storey modules scheduled for release in 2018. Which will suit mass housing developments and retail spaces akin to those in Brixton and Bristol, and could in the future even be modified to combine two modules into one, which will enlarge the home.
John O’Brien, Associate Director for Construction Innovation at BRE said: “The simple yet effective design could help alleviate the pressures of the housing crisis on local authorities, providing temporary homes or workspaces on empty sites. This trend of short-term use of derelict land, which can be left untouched for years, even during the planning stages, is becoming more common, especially in London. KODA would provide a cost-effective option to house those on the waiting list for affordable accommodation or offer temporary rental apartments for young professionals, students and those looking to downsize.”
KODA has already been deployed in both Holland and Estonia. Will the minimalist product which uses ‘lift and shift’ technology, create an effective solution for the UK’s under-utilised land before it is permanently developed? Only time will tell, but the promising signs are many.