Winter is always a vulnerable time for the roughly 860,000 Germans who are experiencing homelessness. Add in a global pandemic, though, and this difficult period becomes even harder.
Ulmer Nest, a team of six designers and technologists based in the city of Ulm, Germany, has found a unique way to serve the city’s homeless population. On January 8, 2020, Ulmer Nest rolled out a fleet of solar-powered sleep pods designed to provide homeless people with a safe, warm place to rest their heads.
The team has currently introduced these pods as part of a pilot project in Ulm. If they prove to be a success, they may eventually become available throughout the entire country.
Each pod is constructed from wood and steel. They’re waterproof and are solid enough to protect against cold weather, wind, and humidity. They lock from the inside for security, too, and can fit up to two people, or one person and a pet or some luggage.
Beyond their construction, one of the most interesting things about these pods is the fact that they contain a motion sensor. When the doors are opened, a social worker is alerted. This allows for a professional cleaner to be dispatched when the person using the pod leaves (this is a must, especially in the age of COVID-19).
When creating the pods, Ulmer Nest did not intend for them to be used as alternative housing. Instead, they’re meant to be emergency solutions for those who have been displaced and have nowhere to go.
A member of the Ulmer Nest team said in an interview with Bored Panda that the pods have been well-received by the community. He even noted that they had seen folks going out of their way to serve those sleeping in the pods, including bringing them hot tea in the morning.
Those who want to learn more about the pods can click here to visit Ulmer Nest’s website.