PassivPod began life as an entry to the 2014 Sunday Times and British Homes EcoHaus Competition. The brief was to design an ecological holiday accommodation option for a large lakeside development. The proposed application has changed and expanded since then, yet the concept design has remained almost unchanged. The iconic pod shape of PassivPod was the fist design element to take shape, sparked by the practical considerations of thermal efficiency. Objects with the smallest surface area in relation to volume retain their heat the best – which is important for a low-energy eco building. With this in mind we chose an elliptical shape which is highly thermally efficient, aesthetically pleasing and reminiscent of organic forms, helping the structure blend into whatever natural environment it is placed in. The front facade features ovaliod asymmetric openings to provide a dynamic contemporary feel while flooding the interior living space with natural light and helping to heat the space via passive solar gain. The balcony and over-hang of the roof also provide shading during summer.
Over the last two years the design has changed little, except for the adaptation of the rear doorway and roof to enhance the smooth pod shape. What has evolved significantly is the application of PassivPod. It’s still ideally suited to be a holiday home, guesthouse or travel accommodation option, although probably won’t be marketed to big developers. We are now in preliminary discussions about adapting the classic PassivPod design for use as a classroom space for schools which need additional teaching space and want to commission an interesting, inspiring and sustainable addition to their campus. We have completed a sketch layout to show how it would work for this educational context with minimal changes. We also see PassivPod having a wealth of other potential applications in the rural context, such as visitors’ centres, activity centres, small village halls, offices or workshops. While our existing market research suggests PassivPod is a fantastic holiday option precisely because of its unusual untraditional nature, it is possible that it could also have a use as a primary home for a niche audience who are looking for something different.
We have a strong concept design, are currently developing the technical design, and have gained popular support and positive feedback from industry professionals and our target market. Business consultant Clive Bonny came on board in January 2016 to help Mark Pellant and the Koru Architects team bring this to life.
What is clear is we see the future of PassivPod as interlinked with rural communities and nature-based eco-tourism. Our long term vision is that PassivPods will become a common sight dotted around the countryside of Britain and elsewhere in Europe and North America – as travel accommodation or the other education, leisure or civic uses mentioned earlier. As detailed in our Mission Statement, the mission of PassivPod is linked to our broader vision for a sustainable society. We believe all kinds of buildings should be comfortable, delightful and sustainable – offering utility and beauty within the limits of the planet.