2019 Semester in Sustainable Design/Build - YesterPods

November 25, 2019
By Madi Visser, Semester Program Teaching Assistant


Written by Emma Scott - I’m sure you’re wondering how we plan to house sixteen people comfortably in 1,200 square feet of space.  This week’s blogpost has all of the answers.  Whether you’ve had a summer camp experience or not, I can assure you that there’s a clear winner between the top bunk dweller and the bottom bunk dweller.  My sleeping pod design aims to equalize this experience.

For one of our first design exercises, each student envisioned an ideal sleeping/living situation, given our tight space constraints.  The solution that I came up with is inspired by precedents of hostel-type accommodations that have popped up as PodShare in California and Capsule Hotels in Japan.  My sleeping pod design riffs off of these glorified bunkbeds with some major improvements.  The pods will allow residents to fully stand up and move around, to have privacy with sliding doors rather than curtains, and to customize storage with adjustable shelving on pegboard walls. Another important feature is a second level accessed by stairs, rather than a ladder, to avoid disrupting the lower neighbor with a rickety descent for a midnight bathroom break and for easy trips up and down with laundry in hand.

Since the beginning of the semester, I’ve been drafting iterations of my design on trace paper, in chipboard and basswood models, and in SketchUp.  But, this week I finally got down to business building a prototype of the sleeping pods that we dimensioned the bunk room around.  With Lily, Andy, and Mac’s help, we’ve begun to screw together a rough draft corner unit with plywood and 2x4s.  This full-scale model will give us a sense of how big or small the space will actually feel so that we can experiment with things like shelving and sliding door access.  

The story of the pods will continue after our semester.  A class in the next few months will crank out all eight two-story units while learning how to use a computer numerical control (CNC) machine.  This technology will allow for the modules to be built with intricate plywood joints and minimal hardware — sort of like how IKEA furniture goes together.  I can’t wait to see my sleeping pod idea come to fruition!