Innovation That Matters

Cargo containers | Photo source Eric Fischer on Flickr

Tiny apartments provide homeless housing

Property & Construction

A developer has designed tiny, self- contained prefabricated apartments for the homeless.

In San Francisco alone, there are almost 7,000 people living on the streets. Developer Panoramic has developed what it thinks could be a way to help by creating small homes quickly and efficiently. The company has developed the MicroPad – a smaller version of its Prefabricated Affordable Dwelling. Made from steel, with 9-foot ceilings, the MicroPad comes fully furnished with a private bathroom, kitchenette, armoire, desk and bed, all in 160 square feet. The construction process uses the same technology as manufacturing shipping containers.

The MicroPad is a smaller version of studio apartments the company builds for use as students housing. The units’ design is as part of a housing complex, rather than as stand-alone blocks. The units stack together on a conventional foundation, then they establish connections to water and electrical systems. An exterior ‘skin’ and roof are added, and finally stairwells and hallways are completed. The apartments can be stacked up to eight high and have a very small footprint. This means that a space the size of a single car park could provide homes for hundreds of people. Building a multi-unit building is also more economical than constructing a village of individual tiny houses. The idea has drawn interest from cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, but there is strong opposition from union groups and those opposing construction of permanent homeless housing in their neighbourhoods.

Although Panoramic faces many challenges to producing its factory-built housing, the company believes the market for this type of construction will grow in the future. Steep rises in the cost of construction mean that cost-efficient options such as this will likely prove popular. They have already piloted the concept by building a similar prefab complex for students in Berkeley. At Springwise, we have covered a number of other innovations in tiny house design, highlighting the trend. These include an affordable vacation home and a home that fits inside a water pipe.




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