PanGoPods are off-grid eco-friendly mobile homes. They are bigger than a caravan but smaller than a Park Home. This sort of housing is common in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where they are called Tiny Homes.
We drew inspiration from the ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii), an animal that can roll up into a defensive ball, protected by keratin scales. Beyond this remarkable defensive ploy, pangolins are also mobile and can go just about anywhere. Hence … the pangolin pod, the go-anywhere pod, the PanGoPod.
Our PanGoPods detach from their trailers: they can be kept on the trailer or ‘planted’ on site and removed again. A PanGoPod plus trailer weighs 3500 kg and can be towed by a large 4×4. PanGoPods run off of solar power, using water from rainwater harvesting tanks, and a water-free composting loo.
Pangopods have a ground floor of roughly 16 m2 and two mezzanine lofts, each of just over 4 m2, for a total area of nearly 25 m2. The lofts can each take two single mattresses or a king-size mattress. A separate bathroom provides privacy for a shower, a composting toilet, a hand basin, a wardrobe, and a washing machine. The open-plan ground floor contains a fully-functional kitchen, a sleeper couch, and a dining nook.
We hope that after diving a bit deeper into the information here, you’ll be as excited as we are about this great new, proudly South African product.
Why go tiny?
For some South Africans, going tiny might be a step down, but for millions of people in our country, a PanGoPod might be a step up. From whichever situation you are coming from, a PanGoPod can offer the following benefits:
- Reduced environmental footprint
- Freedom of movement
- A safe, secure, and weatherproof shelter
- A healthy, beautiful, and nurturing space
A PanGoPod is a great solution for folks looking for additional accommodation on their property, but who don’t want to go through the hassle of obtaining planning permission or the hassle of having a building crew on site.
If you are a business looking for a mobile site office, laboratory, or retail space, a PanGoPod can be designed to meet your needs.
Why are we building them?
We are a non-profit company designed to foster research and community action in biodiversity conservation and social development. We believe that to grow our nation in a sustainable way, while caring for our people and preserving our environment, we need to approach housing in new ways.
We need to integrate modern living into the surrounding environment in ways that are sensitive to human well-being, long-term sustainability, and ecological resilience. Part of this approach is to develop eco-friendly off-grid mobile homes.
We also have a mission to get people out into remote places so that they can conduct field research on biodiversity, ecology, sociology, and anthropology in under-served areas. We see this mission as a perfect opportunity for field-testing off-grid housing that can be rolled out with confidence to the general public.
Who is a PanGoPod suitable for?
Just about anybody! Within some basic parameters, we can design a PanGoPod to suit your needs.
That being said … tiny home living is not for everybody. You still need a place to park your home. Tiny home living doesn’t solve land ownership issues and is not necessarily a first rung on the property ladder. Tiny home living takes dedication and commitment – many people will have to scale down their possessions and keep them at a manageable level.
Who is building them?
We are the Biodiversity and Development Institute (BDI), a non-profit company focused on research related to biodiversity conservation and social development. Our PanGoPod team consists of Dr Pete Laver (BDI director, ecologist), Hendrik Louwrens (craftsman who has spent much of his career in the yacht-building trade), additional BDI staff, and a supporting cast of exceptional suppliers, collaborators, and professional sub-contractors (legal, insurance, electrical and gas).
Where can you put a Pod?
Mobile structures generally don’t require planning permission, but you will have to contact your local council to register the Pod (e.g. as a caravan), to register the solar panels, and to provide a site plan indicating where the Pod will be situated on the property. Local by-laws may prohibit occupation of a ‘caravan’ on your property, so please check with your council. Other than that, you’ll need to be able to tow (or have us tow) your Pod to site – along reasonable roads (including farm roads) with clearances of 2.5 m (width) and 4.3 m (height).
Where can you get a PanGoPod?
You can either collect your Pod at our factory in Cape Town, or we can deliver one to you (billed separately). You’ll need a large 4×4 for towing – it must be rated to tow 3500 kg. The dimensions of the Pod on its trailer are road-legal and similar to that of truck carrying a shipping container.
Where can you see an example?
We have a prototype PanGoPod situated on an exquisite wine farm and nature reserve near Malmesbury, in the Western Cape.
Where can you find us?
You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, via email, and at our workshop in Epping 1, Western Cape (Unit 4 Gunner’s Park, corner of Grenville Ave and Gunner’s Circle).
When can you get one?
This depends on our waiting list. Currently, we can have a Pod ready about 4 months after your 50 % deposit is paid.
When did we start?
Our company has been around since 2015. We started our PanGoPod mission in 2018.
How to get one?
All you need to do is contact us at email@example.com. We’ll start the process of engaging with you about what you need and want from a PanGoPod.
We have a standard plug-and-play PanGoPod, which comes with all the bells and whistles in the box. Once you have it on site, it takes about a day to hook things up (solar panels, rainwater tanks, etc.) and then you’re off to the races.
Alternatively, we can customise your order to better suit your needs. Just drop us an email to start that process.
How much do they cost?
The quote we give you will depend on several factors, including which options, fittings, furniture, and electrical systems you desire. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can draw up a custom design and a quote to suit your needs.
How do we build them?
PanGoPods consist primarily of a trailer and a steel framework. The trailers are made by a trailer manufacturer. The light steel framework is supplied by a steel framing contractor. We construct the pods from the trailer upwards in our workshop. We are a small team and we craft everything by hand – from the furniture to the copper tap fittings (should you select those options).
More information …
You can find out more about PanGoPods in our FAQ, or by emailing email@example.com. You can see more photos of PanGoPod on Instagram or see a collection of photos from our Instagram feed here. Don’t forget to check out our new dry composting toilet, the Eco-throne, here.