Dropping in: the small house built on a big idea


Every year the supply of UK housing falls further behind demand, and there’s little sign of the disparity being ended. And with construction often hampered by planning, there’s an urgent need for solutions. A British-Estonian partnership has come up with an innovative approach in KODA: a movable, high-end concrete home that arrives from the factory fully-fitted for immediate occupancy and can be built on site without the need for foundations.

Created by Kodasema in Estonia and delivered by British My Pad Haus, KODA is a recent winner of WAN Urban Challenge 2017, a global ideas competition with a focus on London’s housing crisis. It’s also one of ten ground-breaking demonstration buildings on the BRE Innovation Park in Watford. That’s where I met some of the founders of the two companies, who presented the KODA home to a delegation organised by BRE and the Embassy of Estonia.

Compact, Sustainable Design

Designed with comfort and style in mind, KODA comes with a double bedroom, a surprisingly airy and spacious living room, fully-fitted bathroom and hide-away kitchen. The pine interior is finished with Osmo wood stain, which together with the cube’s large glass frontage, enhance the minimalist feel.

The house addresses even the most extreme weather conditions by generating its own energy. It has PUR-insulated concrete walls, quadruple glazing and innovative LED lighting and architecture that maximises daylight. There’s a keyless entry system. A quick touch of a button operates the curtains and roller blinds to turn the KODA into a discrete, private space.

The design and build aims to be as sustainable as possible. Efficient insulation and air tightness seek to lower energy costs. The climate control of temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, along with filtered air, address pollen and city dust. While the building itself uses less concrete than traditional building foundations, thereby reducing its embodied carbon.

Meanwhile Use

KODA ships from the factory with built-in foundations with the promise of ‘deliver one day, move in the next’. At 26 sq. metre. KODA is a micro house that’s best suited to single occupancy or a couple. Currently, KODA costs £150,000. This is inclusive of planning application and building regulations costs, site preparation and connection to water, utilities and sewage within 15 metres of the property. Adding in the 2.2Kw solar PV and Maslow battery offer via My Pad Haus takes the price to £158,500.

My Pad Haus believes that KODA homes are ideally placed for ‘meanwhile use’ of land in city centres. According to Arup, meanwhile land is a catch-all title to describe a diverse range of pop-up cafés, shops and temporary uses of empty property and land. It doesn’t even mean short term land use; it could be brownfield land earmarked for use that’s been granted temporary use spanning five years and more.

Lewisham in south east London for example, has become what the council dubs as ‘the UK’s first pop-up village’ to house families who are forced to live in B&Bs in other parts of the capital. The council gave the green light to The Place/Ladywell project, a £4.3m scheme to provide 24 homes and 880 sq. m of business space, all of which can be picked up and moved at a later date, allowing the council to make use of vacant brownfield land while longer-term projects are finalised. Until then, the council earns an income and families access housing. The first tenants moved in during August 2016.

My Pad Haus sees the Lewisham Ladywell project as a blueprint for KODA, albeit that the property spec and initial target market are different. It hopes that KODA will shake up the property market by providing a high-end space that can be used as a city centre home, a lakeside summer house, an office, workshop or studio or even a classroom. Indeed, with Estonia holding the EU Presidency from 1 July 2017, KODA homes located in Tallinn will be made available to delegates from the EU when they stay in the Estonian capital.

For first-time buyers, KODA costs much less than traditional first homes and they’re built to last. When you buy a KODA, you buy a four/five star living experience. But you also buy something more, the capability to quite literally move house. Now there’s a thought.

Posted on August 30, 2017 in BRE, KODA, sustainability, sustainable design

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