Small building solutions

Last week we defined in part sustainable design as “the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability” with the intention of sustainable design being to eliminate negative environmental impact completely through skillful, sensitive design”. In theory, manifestations of sustainable design require no non-renewable resources, impact the environment minimally, and connect people with the natural environment.

I also raised the questions “Can Odoni-Elwell improve its environmental credentials through good design?” and “Does eco-design provide some, all or even any of the answer?”

I ended last week’s post by including an image of the Sustainable Design Cycle which considers the life cycle of products. It may appear obvious that to be increase our environmental credentials and go greener we must assess how green we are currently.

According to Sustainable Minds (2013)

75% of manufacturing costs are committed by the end of the concept phase”


“Operationalizing greener product design starts with bringing life cycle thinking and a whole product systems approach to the beginning of the design process. The result is innovative, greener products, cost savings by reducing re-engineering, and greater competitive advantage”


To assess the life cycle of a product we must:

  • Detail and explain the product and its components
  • Explore how it comes into being
  • Consider what happens to it at the end of its life?
  • Consider what are its upstream and downstream processes?

We have and are currently assessing the life cycle of our products as part of a project in collaboration with the Eco Design Centre. Next week we will being to look at the life cycle of one of our more popular products, the ST1 Bike Shelter.

Many thanks to Stuart Clarke, whose research and hard-work has made this post and all the posts over the next coming weeks possible.

Green roof minishelter2

A little while ago we had a thought experiment: How could we design a nifty little system for cycle storage that would maiximise space, be manufactured with product sustainability in mind, be almost entirely made in the UK and offer an end-of-life collection and replacement service. This is what we came up with; The mini shelter (above).

This product is to be the template of how we consider all of our product range. Wherever we use a material we want to know how long it will last, what the implications of its manufacture and use are and what we can do with the product once it has satisfied its purpose. As an important aside it also needs to promote cycling being both aesthetically pleasing and a pleasure to use (as much as using a cycle ‘shed’ can be pleasurable!). The product features for this are:

The green roof promotes bio-diversity, softens the urban landscape and helps to reduce flood risks. The wood can be sourced from Welsh forests or sustainably farmed Western red cedar. The double decking system is designed and made in our Midlands factory and available in bespoke colours (but we’re rather partial to the ones in the image). The system is easy to use and offers several locking points to protect your bike. At end of life we’ll offer a service to collect and dispose of the product combined with a discount code for a replacement (if cleaned annually, Western Red Cedar will last around 30 years. Replacement service available after 25 years of service).

Green roof minishelter 1

Shelter dimensions: 2460mm x 2662mm x 2992mm, whilst the double decker system measures 1735mm x 1582mm x 1660 (Length x Width x Height)

The double decker and mini-shelter are also available as stand alone items. If you’re interested in details of our EOL proposals (or anything else for that matter), drop us a note here. 

Here are some examples of products that we have recently produced in response to customer problems; the removable canopy and the revolving bike hanger. The canopy was produced to protect visitors arriving at the building (obviously!), but has been fitted with ease of removal and re-use in mind. The canopy is free standing, but sited close to the building with a rubber flashing preventing water from running between the canopy and the building.

The revolving hanger was produced after feedback on the Odoni stand at the London bike show. How can bikes be stored in tight spaces? With space at a premium – particularly in London – the revolving hanger provides both a secure anchor point for a bicycle and a novel way of pushing the bike against the wall. By spinning the pedal, the bike will stand out no further than half the width of the handlebars (and if the handlebars are loosened, almost flat against the wall).

Please contact us for Polycarbonate, pre-coated steel or textile canopies. The revolving bike hanger is available online via our Odoni Ebay store. The bike belongs to our sales manager Andrew Huntley, who is very attached to it.

Elwell products are well known for their robust construction, longevity and sustainability credentials. Often they are the workhorse of new developments; providing workspaces and storage, security and protection. To develop the vision of our product use, we are very pleased to welcome James Williams, a trainee architect currently working with the 4orm practise in London. Back in the UK after a stint in Scandinavia, James, has been contracted to visually  articulate our vision for the use of Elwell products. The illustrations below highlight how a standard Elwell Supersafe product may be incorporated into urban planning within a mews or in an education setting.

Elwell Supersafe - a sustainable solution for storage problems.

Elwell supersafe in an educational or recreational environment.

All Elwell products are constructed from high recycled content and have inherent recyclability at end of life. All products are manufactured from British components at our West Midlands site. 

Pre-coated steel features heavily in many of our products. With excellent longevity, attractive colour options, high recycled content (and recyclability) and relatively low weight, our buildings can be constructed in a variety of settings. However if you are seeking to achieve BREEAM assessment for your development (or it’s attached outbuildings) you may wish to research the contribution that precoat (and Elwell) can make to your vision.

We have been very impressed with TATA’s useful guide to pre-coat and BREEAM. The document provides an overview of BREEAM assessment, energy, waste and materials performance. For a copy of the document, click the image below.