Click photo above for plan of site from Google Earth

This is a quick fly by of what Tom Cordell and myself saw yesterday and what we thought of the houses. I’ll write each one up in more detail in due course.

ZedPod

It is horrible with no redeeming features. It is designed to stand in and look over a car park. What more do you need to know? Not the answer to a housing crisis of any kind. Is it good for anything?

The ZEDPod prototype which opened last week at the BRE’s Innovation Park does not do justice to the concept. Unattractive exterior cladding and interior finishes (multi-purpose boards with metal strips over the joints) make what is an average design unappealing.

The end-of-terrace prototype benefits from a side window, which makes it difficult to judge how much daylight mid-terrace units would have and how claustrophobic they might feel. And the balcony overlooking a sea of parking makes explicit the downsides of living over a car park.

Zedpods-may-be-coming-to-a-car-park-near-you/10015920.article

Well if I’d missed the last train and the choice was a bench on the station then yes, I’d be grateful for one night in there but glad to get out, and in that circumstance they would become the last refuge of the drunk and misbehaving.

I fear they would be quickly vandalised. I honestly don’t know what they’re good for, just a waste of materials.


Zero bills home

Designed by the same people as the ZedPod but you wouldn’t know it because this one is really nice.

We both liked it immediately. Well laid out, cool inside (on a warm day), open plan but not excessively so enabling essentially separate cooking / dining away from the lounge area yet without a door between.

Upstairs was nice too except for the excessively hot top sun room.

Perhaps the cooling systems weren’t running.


Barratt Green House

Yes it’s by them, the volume house builders but despite that it’s very nice.

Lots of wood, some of it engineered wood, open tread staircase up three flights, void space in the kitchen diner up to a small gallery for childrens play space or work area.

Large terrace on parents level at the top (above). Delightful ensuite in the master bedroom hidden behind apparent wardrobe sliding doors.

Internal window from ground floor looking to staircase. First floor gallery at top left.

Stairs from top floor looking down


KODA by Kodasema

Another pod house. Much nicer than the ZedPod.

Inside remarkably light and spacious with the bed tucked away upstairs on a platform over the wetroom and toilet.

Ensuite wetroom through door on right.


Prince Charles Natural House

Put away your instinctive dislike of all things Charles. This is a really nice house and chances are you would like to live there if you saw it. What follows is about the left hand side as seen from the front elevation.

The ceiling heights are extraordinary. I stood by a wall and Tom said the ceiling was almost twice my height. I am 6’1″ tall.

Kitchen from front room.

Front room from kitchen, a pair of sliding doors separate the two.

It is a beautiful well built house and well worth a visit if you can take a day off work.


Tigh Grian Userhuus

The entrance leads into a large (by modern standards) hall – you could store a pram or two buggies in the hall without compromising the space, or a storage unit, it’s ideal. Off the hall to the right where the two pane window is, is a modest but entirely functional kitchen. From the hall and straight ahead past the white painted wooden stairs and balustrades is the dining / living room.

French windows ahead, dining table to left, nicely proportioned.

Dining end of living room

At this point Tom said he would have preferred a larger kitchen with room to eat in it. I can see what he means but this works for me because I like the compact and functional separate kitchen although this bear some discussion.

Upstairs are two large bedrooms and a bathroom with a window, which makes a pleasant change from modern internal bathrooms.

It was notable that in all the houses we looked at the bathrooms had natural light apart from the en-suites which were designed without.

The thoughtfulness and consideration that has gone into most of the houses on this site is most welcome. Pokey boxes these are not with the obvious exception of the interesting Kodesama and awful ZedPod.

Second floor single bedroom

The room at the top is a delight. I would happily have spent a week there exploring the park and reading. The house though basic – Tom said designed to the specification of Housing Associations – would make a lovely family home.

Second floor single bedroom

The two storey semi on the left hand side looking from the front elevation I find less appealing. Despite having a larger kitchen with a dining table in it (to suit Tom) the hall was smaller and the bedrooms less well laid out. The kitchen was dark towards the back and needs more thought.


Renewables House

This stank so badly of what? Hemp? That I refused to stay in there and let Tom go upstairs to check out the rest. It needs ventilating at the very least.


Sigma House

For some reason we missed this one. It may have been closed for some reason, will check when I go back.


Hanson Eco House

Was closed. Pity as that was the one I most wanted to see with its kiln like cooling system.


Wienerberger E4 Brick House

I didn’t like that at all owing to the over large windows and patio doors. When you glaze a building up to the brickwork in every direction without a visible frame you let in a lot of light it’s true but leave the residents horribly exposed and like an unframed painting, lose the elegance.

Not my cup of tea. Won’t be buying it on eBay when BRE flog it off like they did the Cub House.


This is only a first glimpse. I have to go back, take more photographs and have a second look at the buildings before I write up each one in detail.

To visit link here https://ipark.bre.co.uk/parks/england


Note to BRE

The disconnect between your website and the app is alarming. In an organisation this size is it beyond the realms of finance to allocate somebody to go through the website and the app and make sure they correspond to what you’ve got on site?

What am I getting at? The missing buildings, the changes, the Visitors Centre which is no more, the closed buildings. When people are visiting they ought to be correctly informed about what’s on site.

And that app. Does everybody carry a Smartphone now? Do you not have a duty of care to provide an alternative, to keep just a couple of the old MP3 players you used to have available and a few up to date printed sheets so that visitors can tour the site without a Smartphone and an app?

Just a thought.

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