Bristol Housing Festival
Re-imagining better ways to live in our cities


Bristol City Council Pledges Sites and Modular Homes in Five-Year Housing Festival


Bristol City Council Pledges Sites and Modular Homes in Five-Year Housing Festival

Council pledge

Bristol City Council last night pledged to make sites available across the city to the festival to test and deliver innovative and affordable housing solutions over the next five years. Cllr Paul Smith, who made the announcement to an audience of 300 at the festival’s launch at City Hall, also committed the council to investing in six rapid-build, modular homes from ZED Pods to be put up on one of the sites and offered to people in housing crisis within six months, subject to planning.

Test sites

Some of the sites that will be used would normally be seen as undeliverable using conventional housing development methods. But the Festival will use them as test sites to prototype better ways of living in the city which has a serious housing crisis.  An average two-bedroom house in Bristol cost £222,000 last year compared to £60,000 in 1990. Each night, around 500 families with children are staying in temporary accommodation.

'A laboratory for housing innovation'

Cllr Paul Smith, who is Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “The council is completely behind the Bristol Housing Festival. We will support them in using the city as a laboratory for housing innovation, making available a variety of sites. Some of these will seem ‘impossible’ - some will be between, on top of or even underneath existing buildings. So, we are inviting ideas from all over the world and saying let's be imaginative, let’s challenge, and let’s be prepared, if necessary, to fail and try again.”

Offsite manufacturing

Homes that are manufactured offsite, such as ZEDPods, are particularly suitable for challenging sites, as they can be delivered and then put up quickly, sometimes in as little as a day.

'Political courage'

Jez Sweetland, the Festival's Project Lead said: “We have systemic failure in housing – it's not working for this city, for our nation and around the world. We need courage to work together to think differently and prototype and start again. We are full of admiration for the Council ‘s political courage in supporting the festival. It is not about having all the answers – instead the festival is about trying out new ideas and re-imagining better ways to live in our cities.”

'About communities'

Mayor Rees, who also spoke at the launch event, said: “The festival can turn the city in to a living exhibition of the latest and most innovative approaches to housing and finding the best way of tackling our housing crisis. It is not just about homes, but about communities too, and solving wide social challenges such as social isolation and mental health issues through housing.”


The ZEDPods are on display at the Festival’s launch exhibition, along with a range of other alternative and affordable housing prototypes. The free exhibition, which opened on Friday 19th October and runs until 4th November, has already attracted over 2500 visitors. Exhibits also include modular two-storey homes from Totally Modular; a modular apartment from Tempo Housing; a single storey unit from We Can Make; and shipping container home conversions from ISO Spaces and Help Bristol’s Homeless, as well as scale-models and cutting-edge tech such as virtual reality games and a robot. 

The Bristol Housing Festival is an initiative of Bristol One City, and supported by Bristol City Council, Bristol and Bath Regional Capital, West of England Combined Authority and The Shaftesbury Partnership. The festival sponsors are BDP, Bevan Brittan, Bristol Festival of Ideas, Burges Salmon, GSM, Homes England, JBP, Rentplus, Solverboard, studioBURO, The House, The Wilsher Group, Triodos Bank, We The Curious, and YTL Developments. 

About ZEDPods

ZED Pods is a new company set up to build and install high quality, affordable low carbon homes for keyworkers and young people close to city centres and public transport. By separating housing provision from land prices using air rights over car parks, this removes the cost of land from the price of housing and could use the UK’s 200,000 city centre car parking spaces. ZEDPods are one or two-bedroom houses that have been designed by a RIBA award winning architect Bill Dunster. Their modular construction is fabricated off site and the pods are designed to be erected within 24 hours. This approach enables rapid and easy onsite installation to make effective use of windfall sites. The new space standard ZEDPod was launched this year at Ecobuild 2018.

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