Timber Trailblazer

As 2021 started, the multi-award winning Hope Rise development on Chalks Road in St. George, Bristol welcomed its new residents. This revolutionary affordable housing solution uses timber volumetric technology to great effect.

The project is designed to be an affordable and low-carbon housing development aimed at creating a mixed tenure affordable housing scheme over a car park. Bristol City Council, in partnership with ZED PODS, YMCA and the Bristol Housing Festival, provided these much needed attractive, zero-carbon modular ZED POD homes for young people at risk of homelessness as part of the council's social housing provision.

It is a pioneering environmental and socially-focused development delivering much needed social housing for young people in need of affordable housing. The one and two bedroom apartments are built on a podium above a council-owned car park. This takes advantage of the air rights, removing the land cost and consequently making the development extremely affordable.  The Hope Rise development is a demonstration of how innovation can help to solve our housing crisis, through the way homes are built and rethinking land use is the first 100% socially rented development of its kind in the country.

From the outset, the project has looked for innovative ways to create a community, recognising that this cannot be done simply through physical design. Through collaboration with YMCA Bristol, two of the apartments have been assigned to designated 'community builders,' who will encourage interaction and neighbourliness in this new community and encourage residents to invest in the Hope Rise and St. George communities. This will be something they will explore together as they settle in over the next few months.

"We're delighted the community builders and residents have moved into the ZED PODS," said Jessie WiIde at the Bristol Housing Festival. "This final milestone in the completion of the Hope Rise project is the culmination of two years of collaborative work between Bristol City Council, YMCA Bristol, The Bristol Housing Festival and ZED PODS and it's an achievement of which we are all incredibly proud. We wish the new residents everything of the best in their new homes."

The principal contractor for the development is Impact Modular who constructed and delivered to site the ZED PODS designed homes under license from ZED PODS. The apartments have been made from cross laminated timber (CLT) panels. The building fabric is further optimised using offsite fabrication with super-insulated walls and roofs to achieve high level of airtightness (1.3 ach at 50 pascals), heat recovery ventilation, high standards of draught proofing, and low heat loss – circa 90% improvement over building regulations. The scheme aims to improve the fabric efficiency of the building beyond the 97% fabric energy improvements in the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP).

This development is capable of offsetting all regulated energy demands and the A-rated Preliminary Energy Assessment (PEA) shows that negative carbon emissions are possible across the site. Airtightness membrane in between CLT panels and insulation ensures that the airtightness layer will be untouched for the life of the building.

"We wanted to address key worker and affordable housing issues without compromising on our values of sustainability and quality," said Dr. Rehan Khodabuccus, Operations Director at ZED PODS. "We are very pleased that Bristol City Council has had the foresight to partner with us directly and are so enthusiastic about the potential for more developments like this. With momentum, quality modular, designed-for-manufacture housing can play a leading role in city centre housing provision"

Thomas Northway, Chairman at ZED PODS, added: "We are delighted to bring this innovative housing project into fruition despite the challenges of the pandemic.  Collaborating with Bristol City Council, YMCA Bristol and the Bristol Housing Festival on this pioneering scheme, we have demonstrated how good quality, affordable homes can be built quickly on constrained sites like car parks using offsite construction."

The project was deemed as a Bristol offsite pilot project with the opportunity of scaling up and replicating the scheme to other sites. ZED PODS was chosen by the council based on superior energy performance measures and help them achieve ultra-low carbon and ultra-low energy consumption – a complete sustainable development. Over the lifetime of the project the scheme is expected to have no net carbon footprint and could offset both the carbon footprint of the original construction, plus the annual maintenance and annual energy needed to run the homes.

"We are really pleased to see this development finished, particularly as it demonstrates that new housing is about creating great places that promote resilient communities," said Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol. "Seeing people move into their new homes is one of my favourite parts of my role as Mayor, and it is fantastic to be able to see these people move into their new homes to start the new year. Bristol is a city of innovation, and we have taken a lead on exploring new solutions to the housing crisis that is evident across the country. We all need to work together to tackle these big issues, and there has been some fantastic partnership working to bring these ZED POD homes to the city."

The homes have been optimised for energy efficiency and lowest possible energy costs, with PV panels to generate electricity in the day, quiet running heat pumps for low energy heating, controlled ventilation which recovers usable heat from inside the building whilst bringing in fresh air, triple glazing, LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances. "Home for many of us is something we take for granted," said Julia Clapp, YMCA Chaplain. "But it's not a given for everyone and the response from those nominated for Hope Rise has highlighted again to me the need for more housing like Hope Rise; housing that feels like  'home' and where you get to be part of a community. At the YMCA our aim is to see young people 'belong, contribute and thrive. Hope Rise creates an environment where this is possible."



Read Structural Timber Magazine- Issue 26 here 

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