Compact Pod Becomes An Affordable Lifestyle Option

Pods such as iDLADLA (which translates as “my place” in Joburg slang) are quickly becoming popular throughout the world and that’s because of their flexibility and functionality. The fact that they are compact allows them to be added to a large variety of different locations and to serve a variety of purposes.

Pod IDLADLA in background photographed by Lisa Johnston

Pod-iDLADLA is a project carried out by architect Clara da Cruz Almeida in collaboration with EVZ Engineers, Mark Setaro, JK Electrical, Ken Stuckle and Holms & Friends. The team worked together to come up with a concept and a design that are affordable, modular, sustainable and durable.

Pod IDLADLA side view photographed by Lisa Johnston

After deciding that 17 square meters are the minimum space needed for a person to live reasonably, the team looked for ways to make this living space as practical, functional and as well organized as possible.

Pod IDLADLA overall photographed by Lisa Johnston

The pod can serve a variety of purposes. For example, it can start out as a primary residence to later become a holiday cabin, a guest pod, a separate home office or studio. Its design and structure are flexible and modular, allowing it to adapt to a variety of uses.

Pod IDLADLA unusual shape photographed by Lisa Johnston

To cut down on labor costs and time, the architect opted for a prefab design. Those interested can choose from a list of material options, timber and steel being the two main ones. The team suggests timber for its durability, high acoustic and thermal performance as well as for the fact that it responds better than other materials (including steel) to fire hazards.

Pod IDLADLA deck photographed by Lisa Johnston

Sustainability is encouraged and this is why each pod is customized, using locally-sourced resources. This also ensures a design that adapts well to the climate and the area in general. Depending on the materials chosen, the location and maintenance, a pod can last anywhere between 25 and 125 years.

Pod iDLADLA exterior deck photographed by Brett Rubin

The pods are quite easy to put together and to take apart and they’re also easy to transport given the fact that they’re so compact and that they’re prefabricated. This type of flexibility allows them to be transported and mounted in a lot of different locations.

Pod iDLADLA indoor-outdoor transition photographed by Brett Rubin

They include a small deck which allows the user to maximize the indoor living space when the weather is friendly and to open up the interior to the views and the surroundings.

Pod iDLADLA viewed from the deck photographed by Brett Rubin

The interior design of the pod is defined by pretty much the same characteristics as the outer shell. The layout is adapted to make the space as functional and user-friendly as possible. The kitchen, living space, work area and the bathroom share the space on the ground level while the sleeping area is at the mezzanine.

Pod iDLADLA interior photographed by Brett Rubin
Pod iDLADLA living space viewed from mezzanine photographed by Brett Rubin

A compact kitchen offers the user all the basic features usually required such as a cooking area, a sink, some prep space and plenty of storage in the form of drawers and covered shelves under the counter and wall-mounted shelves above the backsplash windows.

Pod iDLADLA kitchen window photographed by Brett Rubin

Suspended shelves and simplistic cabinets satisfy the user’s need for additional storage and they partially cover the wall facing the kitchenette. The area in between can accommodate a table and some chairs, being able to function as a dining space or as a social area.

Pod iDLADLA living area storage photographed by Brett Rubin
Pod IDLADLA living area storage photographed by Lisa Johnston

There’s even a small work space in one of the corners. It offers a standing desk and a little bit of wall storage. It has light coming through a slender vertical opening and a lamp.

Pod iDLADLA work corner photographed by Brett Rubin
Pod iDLADLA standing desk area photographed by Brett Rubin

The tiny bathroom completed the tour of the ground floor. It has a pair of windows that let natural light in, a mirror that gives the feeling of more space and an overall simple, bright and friendly décor.

Pod iDLADLA bathroom door photographed by Brett Rubin
Pod iDLADLA bathroom interior photographed by Brett Rubin

A ladder offers access to the mezzanine level where the sleeping zone is located. Up here you’ll find a bed with built-in storage inside the frame, two tiny nightstands with casual and simplistic designs and round pivot window.

Pod iDLADLA bedroom viewed from below photographed by Brett Rubin
Pod iDLADLA mezzanine bedroom photographed by Brett Rubin

The lighting system is very flexible. All the fixtures are movable and can be be hung from hooks strategically placed in key areas such as by the bed or above the desk. This gives the pod a cozy and casual feel. A similar detail is the set of hangers that attached to the ceiling with rope and which complete the décor in the sleeping area.

Pod iDLADLA bedroom lighting photographed by Brett Rubin
Pod iDLADLA flexible lighting in bedroom photographed by Brett Rubin

Photographers Brett Rubin and Lisa Johnston captured the beauty of the pod in pictures and allowed us to envision it in a beautiful location, surrounded by greenery, the type of location most likely to be chosen for such a structure.

Pod iDLADLA interior ladder photographed by Brett Rubin
Pod iDLADLA wall shelves photographed by Brett Rubin