Windproof and waterproof sleep pods have been installed in the streets of a German city in order to house the homeless.
The wood and steel cabins, which can fit up to two people, protect against the cold, wind, and humidity. They also guarantee fresh air circulation.
To ensure privacy, there are no cameras in the pods, but the opening of the doors triggers a motion sensor which alerts social workers who check the pod following its use to ensure that it can be cleaned, and also to provide assistance to anyone using the unique form of accommodation.
The capsules are also equipped with solar panels, and are connected to a radio network, allowing occupants to communicate without dependency of mobile networks.
The creators of the “Ulmer Nest” have stated that it is made with those who cannot access usual homeless shelters in mind, either due to psychological factors or because they have a pet, for example.
They also note that there was a delay in installation due to the pandemic, but that they were able to install the pods in time for “the coldest nights”.
Evaluations are currently taking place to understand if the Ulmer Nest is suitable to protect against frostbite. If it is, it could be adapted for a nationwide rollout.
The team behind the pod states that this is not an alternative to a stay in a more traditional hostel or housing facility, but an alternative to sleeping in the outdoors. They describe it as an “emergency last resort” option.