Living Pods: Habitat for Life
One of the many challenges all ages of people face today is having ownership of their shelter. The system of creating and owning homes has been variably driven by a model operating since the early part of the 1900’s.
- Land availability
- Sub-division and services infrastructure
- Development guidelines
- Bank finance
- Stable work force and long term employment
- Developer Design & Construction
In the 1960’s and 1970’s a house cost around 2-3 times your annual salary. You could buy it on one income. Houses were smaller, there was less consumer product, materials and resources were affordable and plentiful, and there was plenty of land and water.
Now, nearly all these parameters have been inverted:
- Land is scarce
- Affordability: 10 times the annual wage to buy your home
- Resources are expensive
- House sizes are expanding to align with land and infrastructure costs,
- Multi-unit development as a response.
The net effect is that we now have:
- Young and old unable to afford homes.
- Housing stock that suits a “traditional husband and wife with two kids and two cars” but does not support the diversity of social groups that exist in our community.
The housing models fail to align with our broad section of cultural values:
- Environmentalism: protecting and enhancing the natural world,
- Proximity to social hubs
- Housing type diversity
- Access to nature and gardens
- Stewardship of our earth.
As an architect running a medium-sized practice, I have observed the changing requirements of family dynamics and the responses to change over time.
We are asked to help solve social patterns via habitat design where most of the design decisions have been made by developers, planners, many years ago which leaves a narrow space to evolve new housing typology that fits with the now and responds to future needs.
We are aware of what is possible and how current technology and design offers:
- Solar passive design
- Passivhaus design
- Insulating materials
- Triple Glazing
- Building wrap membranes
- Photo voltaic technology
- Heat pumps
- Heat exchanger ventilators
- 3D building modelling systems
- Thermal break wall, windows and door systems.
- 3D printing of building materials and components.
These are all available to utilise and create environmentally friendly, low energy using habitats.
We have mapped the range of social patterns requiring accommodation and they cover:
- Simple family: adults and young children
- Couple with no children
- Mature family: adults, young adults and grandparents
- Group house: students and friends
- Single mature adults
- People with disabilities
The diversity of social patterns requires a response that caters for this diversity and one possible solution is what we call the “Living Pod” design.
On a single house block, as old houses become obsolete and new land becomes available, it is possible to create a multi-pod home that caters for all social types and circumstances to exist at any time.
Planning wise, imagine a four-leaf clover with each leaf being a separate self-contained habitat with bed space, living space, kitchen-dining space and wet area.
These spaces may be as small as 10m2 and up to cater for a range of inhabitants from a teenager to young adult, studying, working, or creating their own employment and want to pay minimal rent, to larger multi-roomed pods that cater for several adults and children.
A central atrium space provides an airlock/garden/food production/air filtering/environmental attenuating space, enabling access to all living pods and a communal safe space for all ages.
The type of development we are proposing utilises water harvesting and permaculture to significantly enhance the natural environment, filters water and increases summer shade with deciduous trees and provides a central natural garden for the entire community on the site.
Buildings utilise the latest technology for environmental management, store water, produce electricity and are built from all renewable resources – wood, natural finishes, etc.
The aesthetic is natural, organic and beautiful and enables all aspects of community to function.
It is a real paradigm shift in residential design.