The ‘Hope Rise’ development in Bristol came about through a unique partnership between Bristol City Council, ZED PODS and the YMCA, who share a vision for building affordable, high quality and energy- efficient accommodation for young people in the city.
The project progressed from concept to completion in just over two years, beginning with a ZED PODS show home exhibited at the Bristol Housing Festival in October 2018, and in January 2021 residents moved into the first Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) homes of their kind to be completed in the UK
This ground-breaking project presented 11 affordable and low-carbon, modern design apartments which were installed as a permanent living space for young workers and vulnerable households. The Zed Pods concept, where environment friendly homes are built offsite and then transported to the location and erected on steel frame stilts, has changed the way we think about land use in our fight to overcome the social housing crisis in the UK.
Bristol Council, ZED PODS and the YMCA presented the concept to an audience of 300 people at the Bristol Housing Festival, at which Councillor Paul Smith announced the council’s plans to buy these homes at the time the YMCA was struggling to identify move-on housing for young people in crisis in the Bristol Wing backpackers’ hostel. The YMCA recognised the need to move away from thinking about units of accommodation to thinking about creating communities. In collaboration with Zed Pods and the Council they decided to allocate two of the homes to community builders who were tasked with assisting the wellbeing of their fellow residents, growing the community and building a supportive neighbourhood.
A resident from our Bristol development said: “ZED PODS are a very practical way of trying to help solve the housing crisis and giving more to communities. I feel proud that the house I live in not only looks breath taking on the outside but is beautiful on the inside.
“These homes are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. To see such a wonderful house was a shock to me, and no words can describe how I feel about my home.” And the residents give back by keeping the car park clean, while local people and passers-by can make use of new EV charging points.
The development, built on a council-owned car park on Chalk Road in the St George district of Bristol, shines a light on the opportunity to create similar community living spaces nationwide, using the very latest precision technology. And the MMC used in the Hope Rise development helps Councils rethink the use of land, to provide a new and innovative solution which can help solve the housing crisis by providing attractive and modern housing on public car parks.
The achievement of completing the Bristol ’Hope Rise’ development when the country was in the grip of the COVID pandemic is testimony to the vision of the Council and YMCA and the design, planning and project management capability of Zed Pods.
COVID presented new challenges in terms of logistics, supply and delivery. By forging established relationships with suppliers, we minimised the risk of delay, continually reviewing progress against milestones to ensure timescales were met. Ground investigations were postponed due to a two-man rig not satisfying our COVID 19 distancing rules; so, we sourced a one-man rig which increased costs but minimised time slippage.
The second major challenge to the MMC sector is a lack of awareness in the construction sector and among potential clients.
Such a seismic shift in thinking required an awareness programme to help open the minds of stakeholders. The MMC sector has very few demonstrable examples of delivered schemes on ground. So, in 2018, The Council, Zed Pods and the YMCA embarked on a process to focus on the challenges and to overcome barriers to the project, including awareness.
A joint exhibition with the Bristol Housing Festival (BHF) launched the Hope Rise project, with an offer to provide 11 houses for young people making a start in life.
Thomas Northway, ZED PODS chairman, says: “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.”