Motivated by the challenge of sustainable urban living, which has already propelled countless tiny homes and prefab housing efforts around the world, Johannesburg-based architect Clara da Cruz Almeida set out to design a micro home especially well-suited for South Africa. The result, unveiled last week at a local design fair, is Pod-Indawo, a modular prefab dwelling that promises to shave some money off the energy bill without sacrificing comfortable design.
Basic pod units measure 183 square feet each, but can also combine in various configurations to form larger, multi-use living areas. As seen in these photos, the Pod looks quite spacious and airy. This is a product of the structure's steep height (which also maximizes solar-energy capture on the roof), and of course, the work of interior and product design firm Dokter and Misses, who collaborated with Almeida on the project. The designers chose a light and calming palette of white, mint green, and grey, and in order to create more space and avoid clutter, prioritized features like a fold-down table, fold-away couches, and enclosed storage. Furnishings aside, the Pod also tries to engage with the outdoors, as exemplified by the shaded "backyard deck" and the ventilating circular opening near the lofted bed.
While the Pod can certainly make a cool "cottage" in someone's backyard, Almeida hopes it'll ultimately become a viable new means of home ownership. "Most South African residents do not own their land," writes Almeida in an email. So she hopes the Pod will be a way for people, especially young professionals just starting out, to invest in a home without having to own land. That's why a big goal going forward is to work with local financial institutions to allow mortgages on a Pod without a land title and to bring about a norm of occupying land based on a "consent agreement" of sorts. This first iteration of the Pod, which can cost anywhere between $18K and $63K, is just the beginning. Eventually, Almeida hopes to develop flat-pack Pods, self-assembling Pods, and "business hub" Pods that can be used by the city.