Pod People are Coming!

Increasing in popularity, residential pod systems are serving as extensions of the home.

Although unquestionably a product of the pandemic, most agree the absorption of home-work-life will not disappear once workspaces re-open, putting pressure on designers to rethink how residential space can support that mix.

Perhaps inevitably, one growing fixture of the office environment that has come home have been pods. For example, theHUB Pod by Indiana-based YOURspace come with features such as adjustable desks, shelves, lighting, sound deadening, ventilation, and a centralized electrical panel, all with an eye to residential applications thanks to a proprietary extrusion system allowing customization, easy installation and reconfigurability.

theHUB Pod by Indiana-based YOURspace (Photo by Gail Herendeen Photography)
“Pods are more of a lifestyle that grow and evolve with each persons needs and create a positive environment to be creative and work in,” says LIV founder and designer, Lisa Kooistra.

But to some designers, a solution exists just outside the house: homeowners with access to a yard are now in a unique position to turn parts of that yard into useable office space, an opportunity that will no doubt appeal to many white-collar workers cooped up in home office spaces staring at the wall. Ontario-based LIV Pod is one such example. Designed by Lisa Kooistra and constructed in partnership with her husband, Ryan Kooistra of York Renovation & Designs, the cube structure is ideal as a personal home office, with cabinetry, shelving, two desks and even space for an espresso machine. Incorporating a clean white aesthetic with an entire wall of sliding glass doors, the pod creates “needed separation while inviting the calmness of outdoors into our workspaces,” says Kooistra.

Also entering this new yardscape is Toronto-based Syllable, who very recently rolled out a new set of yard pod packages for four-season use that come with heated floors, optional HRV, as well as fully insulated walls, roof and extended outdoor deck. Passive cross-ventilation and roof overhangs help keep the pods cool in the summer. To create a higher sense of luxury, one of the packages comes with a two-way fireplace to serve as a focal point for backyard gatherings.

Q&A with Danny SC Tseng, development director and architect at Syllable

Was the concept of the backyard pod entirely COVID-inspired, or was it in the works before thanks to recently relaxed laws on laneway houses? 

Both actually. We wanted to solve two specific pain-points homeowners have when working from home. The first being that working from home can feel like living at work, where the stress can carry into your home environment, leading to mental health challenges such as anxiety and burn-out. The second is that building permits can be an expensive and time-consuming process, taking months and costing between $300,000 to $500,000 and more for laneway suites.

We address the first issue by physically creating an additional room detached from the main house. This physical separation allows the home to be kept as a sanctuary. Numerous studies have shown that access to nature and physical activity can improve our well-being. The fact that the pods are not designed to have a kitchenette or washroom removes that distraction and forces the homeowner to access their backyard more frequently, creating that mental and physical separation between live and work.

Secondly is the permit issue. By keeping the footprint to within 108-sq.-ft., the Pods are not required to go through the building permit process. As opposed to taking months and costing between $330,000-$550,000 the Pods range between $29k ~ $49k, depending on level of finishes and features, which makes it a fraction of the cost.

Standard Tier

Who do you see as your typical customer? 

Anyone who wants an additional 108-sq.-ft. that adds value to their property by incorporating an extra room.

What sort of timeline is the customer looking at should they, for example, make their deposit online today?

The build takes about 6 to 8 weeks, but due to the unique configurations of the homeowner’s yards, we offer an initial site consultation to assess the best option. They are not delivered assembled, rather, it’s offered as a turn-key solution where the foundation, trenching for electricity and gas-line for the fireplace option is included in the overall price. An additional room in the backyard would add value to the homeowner’s property tremendously.

Delux Tier

Are the most basic models (without the fireplace) considered year-round? Could they be used on a day like today? 

We offer three tiers. The Standard tier is the most well-insulated version. Delux tier is equipped with three sliding glass doors that opens to one side and has a two-way fireplace. The Premium tier has an accordion glass wall that can open completely and an additional set of glass beside the two-way fireplace, creating a truly inside-out approach. They are designed to be used for four seasons thanks to indoor heating and passive ventilation through two sets of operable windows at the top and bottom.

Premium Tier