These solar-powered sleeping pods were designed to provide homeless people shelter in winter!

There are an estimated 860,000 homeless people in Germany and it is a well-known fact that the winter there is brutal! No one should be suffering out in the cold and to help the circumstances, a German-based team of designers and developers called Ulmer Nest have created sleeping pods that are windproof + waterproof. These pods are to be installed across the German city of Ulm to provide the homeless with emergency shelter at night. What started as a local project is now getting attention from all over the world so that it can be scaled and replicated.

The sleeping pods are called Ulmer Nest and provide a safe, warm place to sleep in winter. The interdisciplinary design team did intensive research to get accurate insight and sentiment analysis about the audience who will be using the pod. They found that many people can’t stay in dedicated homeless shelters for various reasons like them not wanting to be separated from their dog or the fear of crime and violence. Keeping this in mind they worked on the first two Ulmer Nest prototypes.

These capsules are crafted from timber and steel which are resilient and protect against harsh weather. Ulmer Nest pods are fitted with solar panels and a set of sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, smoke, and carbon dioxide levels. It also has a heat exchanger to supply fresh air and maintain circulation. Motion sensors also replace the need for cameras while protecting privacy but also making sure that social workers can be alerted in case the situation demands it because overnight stays are not allowed. Two people can sleep in the pod at a time and take cover from rain, frost, and humidity. It is also connected to a radio network so the person using the pod can get in touch with the team managing it if needed. Ulmer volunteers clean the pod each day to make sure hygiene is maintained and also why powder-coated metal was used in the design to make it easy-to-clean. These pods take safety seriously and are protected against fire, it includes an electronic verification system that enables the person to lock it from inside.

Ulm saw its very first sleeping pods in the winter of 2020. Given how that year changed things, the design has been upgraded and testing continues to make sure it is efficient and reliable. Ulmer Nest is the last resort option for those who cannot find shelter anywhere else.

Designers: Patrick Kaczmarek, Florian Geiselhart, Falko Pross, Manuel Schall, Dirk Bayer, and Kathrin Uhlig.