Joint Modular wins awards for its innovative 'Man Pod' at Thirroul

The ‘Man Pod’ could soon flip the conventional granny flat concept on its head, an Illawarra-based firm says. 

Thirroul resident Liz Drummond last year commissioned design and construction firm Joint Modular to create a small, self-contained space with smart and sustainable design to sit behind her existing residence.

Illawarra-based Joint Modular specialise in the design and construction of modular, semi-prefabricated buildings that can be used as small homes or secondary dwellings such as holiday houses, granny flats, work spaces and studios.

RECOGNISED: Last year, Joint Modular was awarded the highest honour from the NSW Institute of Architects Country Division for the Thirroul 'Man Pod' build. Picture: Supplied

RECOGNISED: Last year, Joint Modular was awarded the highest honour from the NSW Institute of Architects Country Division for the Thirroul 'Man Pod' build. Picture: Supplied

However, ‘The Joint’, as the fibro shack-inspired ‘Man Pod’ project is known, was primarily to be a space for Ms Drummond’s son Thomas when not volunteering at a Shamanic healing centre in the Peruvian Amazon.

Mr Drummond said part of the aim was to cater for visiting family and friends, and perhaps in time offer an additional income.

He said his mother’s (who died earlier this year, aged 69, after its completion) direction was simple. “It needed to be sympathetic to her garden, her beehive and her beloved lemon tree,” he said. 

Construction took place over about 16 weeks last year.

Joint Modular director Brent Dunn said the ‘Man Pod’ turned the concept of the “granny flat out the back on its head”. 

The internal space is less than 40sqm, yet incorporates one bedroom with built-in bed and wardrobes, a separate bathroom, and a shared living/kitchenette area with a built-in daybed. 

“Our products are these single-pitched buildings that have the materiality of a traditional fibro beach shack, but they are up-speced for high performance,” Mr Dunn said. 

“They use new technology fibre cement, recycled hardwood windows and doors with double glazing, insulation, and in this project, the concrete slab provides thermal mass. 

“We understand that there’s development pressures for areas like the Illawarra.

“We’re trying to imagine solutions that are appropriate to the scale of the township, and that draw inspiration from the local materiality and history of buildings – fibro shacks, beach cottages.

“And also create opportunities for people to stay in place, or engage with multi-generational living or run businesses from home.”

Mr Dunn said it was also important to work with a team who has experience in the area, and in this type of specific project. 

The Thirroul build also won two NSW Institute of Architects Country Division awards. 

Mr Dunn said they were trying to illustrate that secondary dwellings can be an “exemplar of development as our suburbs become dense” and people choose quality over quantity. 

“A well-designed space of higher quality… Has a far more valuable experiential and emotional outcome, and value for money in terms of the value of the property afterwards.”