written by:
September 16, 2009

Two years ago, Ben Lord surveyed the garden sheds on the market in his native England and didn’t like what he saw. Cookie-cutter designs and drab interiors dominated even as habits were evolving, pushing people to carve out workspaces at home, or in their back yards. “We felt that there had to be a better alternative,” Lord said. Lord is confident that he’s found one with Pod Space Ltd., a line of three prefabricated garden buildings that blend efficient design and sustainable materials with a stylish, modernist flair.

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The pods come in three sizes and can be customized with optional features, including green roofs, washrooms, kitchenettes and storage spaces. Two or more pods can linked together with glass-and-steel walkways to create a larger, more flexible space. Lord drew his inspiration in part from the Scottish architect Gareth Hoskins, particularly the visitor’s center that Hoskins designed for the Culloden Battlefield in Iverness, Scotland — the site of the last battle fought in mainland Britain. The larch-and-stone structure was completed in 2007.

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“I felt that, using a similar palette of materials, we could design a structure which would have a minimal visual impact on the built environment and require little maintenance and upkeep,” Lord says. The pods are built with durable western red cedar cladding certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. Flooring is available in 80 shades of natural rubber, or in a range of low-maintenance hardwood surfaces.

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Premium Scandinavian windows with sealed double glazing help keep the elements out and the air conditioning (or heat) inside. The pods are factory-built using a modular construction system and are installed on a hidden galvanized steel subframe, typically in about two days, according to the Pod Space Web site. The plumbing, heating and electrical systems are installed in advance, ready to be hooked up within a few hours of delivery, Lord says.

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“We designed them to a high specification, to a higher [sustainability] standard than most modern houses,” Lord says. The pods come in three sizes. The Mini Pod — the smallest at about 187.5 square feet — starts at £16,450  (about $27,100). The 230-square foot Glide Pod starts at £21,850 ($36,000). The largest — the 279-square-foot Eco Pod — starts at £23,950 ($39,455). Pod Space, which is based in Yorkshire, for now is selling its pods only in the United Kingdom, but Lord says he is looking for a dealer network to market the structures in the United States and Europe.

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