Building of the week: Hope Rise

The ZedPod is an idea that I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years now. It’s an ingenious solution to Britain’s crisis in affordable housing – building modular homes on top of car parks, in slim pre-fabricated units that can be delivered to the site and installed above the parking space.

We very nearly got to see the first commercial application of the idea in nearby Dunstable, until local spoilsports lodged their objections. Instead, here’s a project from Bristol. Hope Rise is a 100% affordable housing, zero carbon development and the first of its kind in the country. A set of 11 ZedPod homes has been installed above a car park next to a skate park, and it will house young people in partnership with the YMCA.

ZedPods are perfect starter homes for young people. They’re a good size, big enough for one or two people but small enough to manage and to furnish cheaply. Because they are so well insulated and come with a solar roof, bills are very low indeed and that keeps costs down for those in education or starting out in work.

In this particular case, the homes will be offered below market rate through a housing agency, as an added form of support. Two of the homes are reserved for live-in community builders, who will have the job of fostering a community in the development. The vision is for it not just to be somewhere to live, but for it to be a thriving little neighbourhood.

The development may turn out to be transformative for some of the young tenants, but its impact on the site is minimal. There are exactly the same number of car parking spaces as before, and technically it’s a temporary development. The ZedPods have a 30 year lease on the ‘air rights’ to the space above the car park.

ZedPods, which sprung out of Bill Dunster’s radical architectural practice Zed Factory, appears to have been hived off as a separate company. They recently completed a set of residential appartments for NHS staff, delivered in just 13 weeks during lockdown. Another affordable housing development is planned for London, and hopefully we will see more affordable infill developments like these in the coming years.


  1. I really like the name ‘Hope Rise’.Better than Industry Street (in Rochdale) or even New Earth Street (in Oldham) and far better than the hypocritical ‘Badgers Copse’ and similar, where you know any wildlife will have been destroyer / displaced because of the greenfield build of the little boxes.

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