The Pods

Transitional, short-term accommodation for disused spaces and night shelters, offering greater privacy and personal space.
Home Projects The Pods

The Injustice

Across Britain full-time workers are being priced out of the rental property market and forced to find alternative accommodation.

In 2016, as part of our Starter for 10 competition, Thames Reach sent a proposal to us to conduct research into a specific group of migrant workers in North London. Those living in the tent encampments were working long hours, often on short-term projects and coming home to makeshift, substandard accommodation.

The research conducted found that what they needed was short-term, transitional accommodation that could be used whilst they were working in an area and then packed up.

As a result, we launched a design competition for architects to come up with a transitional, adaptable form of accommodation that offered a degree of privacy and autonomy for these workers.

In partnership with:

Project Progress

Phase 1: Pre-pilot
Phase 2: Pilot
Phase 3: Moving Towards Replication
Phase 4: Moving Towards Replication
Phase 5: Replication & Ending
Phase 6: Project Review

The Housing Solution

The winning entry was submitted by Reed Watts Architects, who proposed an almost flat-pack ‘pod’ that could be easily assembled and taken down and accommodated by night shelters. 

Each pod accommodates one person, with a bed, safe box, curtain and hook to hang clothes. Testing of the pods began at a night shelter in Hillingdon and then at the 999 Club in Deptford.  

The purpose of the pod was to provide an alternative to mattresses laid out on the floor of a shelter, offering guests very little privacy. It was thought that users of the Pods would benefit through a greater sense of autonomy which would in turn have a positive impact on their wellbeing.

Case Study

Mark, a 48-year-old with a history of mental illness stayed in one of the pods at Hillingdon. Prior to staying in the pods Mark had been sleeping rough. As winter drew on he feared for his health as he faced the prospect of another month sleeping outside with little more than an old, very thin sleeping bag to keep him warm.  

Staying in the pods provided Mark with the freedom to interact with the other hostel guests whilst providing him with his own space. The pods provided him with a sense of security, safely surrounded by his own belongings. Mark further noted that the feeling of having somewhere to return to at the end of the day additionally brought a sense of normality to his life. Mark told Commonweal that this reminder, coupled with the privacy of the pod, had an aspirational impact on him, reinvigorating his sense of worth, whilst providing him with an additional drive to work towards finding more permanent accommodation. 

Related news

The Commonweal Pods have been successfully piloted in three night shelters across London, finds a new independent evaluation.

George Fisher shares the findings of his report for Commonweal into modular design, and its role in the future of housing for vulnerable groups.

London’s first temporary indoor sleeping pods for people who are homeless were officially opened today (Friday 25 January) by Damien…

Ten new sleeping pods have been installed at a homeless shelter in south London.

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