Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Tiny Belfast pod apartments aimed at first-time buyers

Those with a tendency to avoid small spaces may find the latest attempt at reviving the struggling housing market a little hard to swallow as Belfast's city centre goes compact.

Forget about getting the extended family round for Sunday dinner - these new bohemian and rather tiny apartments are certainly going to be a little short on space.

Unveiled today, the 'Never Monday' project at Montgomery Street in the city centre, comprises 48 apartments starting from just under £80,000 - each fully furnished and decked out with all the modern technological accoutrements a city centre worker could require.

The pod-like homes are single space areas made up of a living room, kitchen and bedroom with residents also having access to a shared ground floor coffee shop, laundry facilities, gym and a rooftop garden.

While certainly not for everyone, it is hoped the new scheme could be a much-needed boost to Northern Ireland's flailing property market.

It can also be seen as a sign that the traditional nuclear family unit is being broken down even further, with more people deciding to live alone.

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Deane welcomed the idea and said it could "only add to that buzz and the whole lifestyle that comes with city centre living".

Although new to Belfast, the concept has been around for some time with similarly designed 'Lux Pods' appearing across central London in the last year - again with the focus on technology and luxury gadgets helping to compensate on the rather cramped atmosphere.

With the average price of a house in Northern Ireland currently over £160,000 and with traditionally sized Belfast apartments approaching £150,000, this uber-modern way of living could be a perfect solution for young 20-somethings looking for their first home.

The concept stems from the idea of 'capsule hotel' pods which have begun springing up across densely populated areas of Japan such as Tokyo.

Guests are treated to a rather cosy fibreglass pod, stacked upon one another with some hotels capable of holding up to 700 people at a time.

The decision to build increasingly small and cramped accommodation has caused concern from The Royal Institute of British Architects. It described a raft of new houses built in England as "shameful shoebox homes", adding that many typical three bedroom properties built were around 8% smaller than the recommended minimum.

Anyone still tempted by Belfast's newest little living spaces can check out a full scale "pop-up pod" replica situated at Victoria House in Gloucester Street.

Background

Much of the inspiration for compact city centre living has been derived from the Japanese who have been pioneering the concept since the 1970s. The Nakagin Capsule Tower, built in 1972 was one of Tokyo's first "micro home" buildings, made up of tiny capsules to be used as small living or office spaces. More recently designers have also built vertical homes designed for inner city living which make the most of a lack of space and skyrocketing prices.

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