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Workforce for the Future site visit: HOPE RISE

  • Thursday, May 19, 2022

As part of the Workforce for the Future programme, YTKO and Bristol Housing Fest have been providing opportunities for local SMEs to visit a number of Bristol sites that have been developed using modern methods of construction (MMC). These tours are designed to showcase the MMC projects in the city, providing an entry point for those interested in the growing sector.

I have enjoyed two such visits and have signed up to see the Blackberry Hill (you can see upcoming events including the Bristol Construction Summit on May 11th, here).

This particular visit took me to see ZEDpod’s Hope Rise development at St Georges Park. A true bit of housing innovation that gets around the high cost of inner city land and utilising air-rights to increase land supply! This particular terrace of 11 homes sits on top of a steel frame above one section of an existing carpark serving local shops and the park itself.

I first encountered ZEDpod at the Bristol Housing Festival expo in 2018 where they showcased the 1 bed home with mezzanine level, it’s small 39sqm size offset by the interior arrangement, providing good natural light and sense of space. This time I was pleased to have the opportunity to explore the larger 2 bed home that includes a winter garden. The central terrace of 1 bed units, constructed of cross laminated timber (CLT) is flanked by these larger (70sqm) homes constructed of light gauge steel. They provide accommodation to 4 community builders who provide a first point of support for the young residents. All residents are aged between 18 and 35 and in receipt of housing support provided by the city council. The project was realised by ZEDpod with support from Bristol City Council, Bristol Housing Festival and the YMCA.

We heard how one of the first hurdles for the scheme was communicating exactly how these suspended homes could successfully occupy a busy carpark and not reduce parking amenity. Another hurdle was convincing the local police and councillors that the scheme would not encourage anti social behaviour, an issue that had previously affected the site.

In fact, the scheme allowed for a reconfiguration of the car park, creating 3 additional spaces in the process. Additional bike parking and six new electric car charging points were also installed. A question was raised about resident parking – in light of this being a public car park. We were told no spaces were allocated to residents, who are actively discouraged from car ownership. The site was selected with public transport and active travel in mind and is a short distance from major bus routes and the Voi scooter scheme. The development has also helped deter antisocial behaviour, partly due to the natural observation the homes provide.

Image: MiM Zed Pods at Hope Rise

Completed in 2020, the residents moved in at the beginning of lockdown causing some challenges with handover delivery. For most of these young people this was to be the first time they would be wholly responsible for controlling their indoor environment. While each received a comprehensive Building User Guide and operations and maintenance videos and instructions, human intrigue resulted in a couple of cases of misuse and malfunction. There is need to address behaviours around home energy consumption in general as we make our homes more energy efficient. Our increasing reliance on technical systems to help achieve this will need to be met with practical support and education on optimal operation (opening windows, adjusting thermostats etc.)

The ZedPods at Hope Rise were designed to be affordable, permanent, and low carbon homes. There has been significant focus on operational carbon efficiencies and creating very low cost homes to run. Each home is equipped either 2.6Kw or 3.4Kw photovoltaic panels for solar energy generation. Heating is provided by compact and quiet heat pumps backed up with Infra Red (IR) panels for the coldest months. The homes are well insulated with rockwool and windows are triple glazed. A heat recovery and ventilation system ensures fresh air and homes are installed with CO2 sensors and emergency contact alert systems. Energy efficient is further prioritised in the lighting and appliance specification.

The 1 bed homes were handed over fully furnished, the 2 beds with basic furniture and complete with all floor finishes, fixtures and fittings.

Given the homes potentially vulnerable position over parking spaces, the building utilises materials such as rockwool and cementitious board to achieve its 60 min fire rating (to underside and flank walls) and the occupants are further protected by heat sensors within the home.

We heard about other ZEDpod schemes in development and the various ways modules can be configured on sites (they don’t all sit above parking spaces..). I wonder if we’ll see some more ZEDpods in the city in the not too distant future.

Finally, something I’d like to hear more about during these visits (or encourage companies to address) is around circularity in construction and waste avoidance. In my opinion we have given disproportionate attention to operational carbon efficiency. Offsite construction provides a fairly unique environment to develop more resource efficient practices and the opportunity to really bed-in long term solutions.

Thanks to Bristol Housing Festival, YTKO and WFTF

Go on a virtual tour of the ZED Pod here

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Established in 2018, Materials in Mind developed out of founder Jenny Ford’s previous career working with engineered timber buildings and master’s degree in Sustainable Development in Practice.