A capsule hotel, also known as a pod hotel, is a type of temporary accommodation facility developed in Japan. It features a large number of extremely small ‘rooms’ (capsules) intended to provide cheap, basic overnight accommodation for guests who do not require or who cannot afford the services offered by more conventional hotels. These hotels were designed for exhausted white-collar workers to spend the night after a long and tiresome day, at the same price as a long train home. This type of accommodation is also a space-saving model of commercial accommodation in densely populated places. Pod hotels are also coming up in the bigger cities of India like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, etc.
The utility of the capsule hotels varies based on the target audience and its location.
Here are 10 such things that should be kept in mind while designing a capsule hotel.
1. Spatial planning
The sense of privacy in capsule hotels is very little, but the segregation of private, semi-private and public spaces is essential. Also since the sleeping pods are in close quarters there needs to be segregation between male, female and shared spaces.
Conventional hotel/motel rooms consist of any form of temporary accommodation unit consisting of three major parts viz. sleeping area, W.C. and bath & storage and remaining open space for circulation. Capsule hotels have all pods together, shared W.C. and baths, locker rooms for storing personal belongings and the combined circulation spaces shared by a few pods. In the deconstructed planning of capsule hotels, the open space is shared by a certain number of pods, hence making it a more efficient use of available space.
3. Standard dimensions and ergonomics
In capsule hotels prefabricated chambers made of metal, aluminium or fiberglass are stacked vertically and horizontally in a room. These chambers or pods are just big enough to accommodate a single mattress; hence the pods have 1.2m width, 2m length and 1m height.
4. Target audience consideration
The target audience for the capsule structure greatly affects the planning and also the amenities provided. Although it started as cheap accommodation for businessmen, the concept of capsules is being implemented in various places such as student/tourist hostels, accommodation near airports.
‘Urban pod’ is a firm introducing capsule hotels all over India in cities mentioned earlier. A co-founder of Urban Pod, Hiren Gandhi said in an Interview, “Going forward, we see huge potential with the rising real estate prices. Not only in metros, but we are also looking at pilgrimages, where there are different sorts of travelers. We are also trying to work something with the city railways”
5. Variations in pods
Just like there are types of hotel rooms (Regular, deluxe, suite, etc.) the capsules are also classified as exclusive ladies pod, classic pod, private pod and a suite pod (accommodates a double bed). These capsules are also modified to accommodate two persons in a double or couples pod. This creates a choice for users.
6. Technology integration
The living space is significantly small, the luxury is maintained employing various advanced technologies and facilities, e.g. ‘The Millennials’ is a smart pod facility in Tokyo where functions are carried out in a centralized manner with the help of an in-house app. The pod in itself can have a TV screen, Wi-Fi, LED screen to avoid claustrophobia, etc.
7. Open space integration
Since most of the day is spent outside the pods, open spaces can be included within the planning. These pockets can counter the constricted sleeping pods. The sense of spacious luxury is achieved by this.
8. Amenities and multipurpose spaces
Based on the user group various amenities and facilities should be provided. The additional spaces within the structure would constitute a canteen, library, study, entertainment room, game room, etc. The same for the business space would vary in terms of business amenities and luxury such as conference rooms, co-working spaces, etc.
9. Luxury elements
Often luxury is equated with spaciousness when considering accommodation. But in this day and age of overpopulation and space shortage, capsule accommodation proves to be an upcoming solution as it would only be experienced inside the sleeping pods. The luxury in this high tech facility should offset it such as Jacuzzi, Gym, Restaurant, etc.
10. Spaces encouraging community living
The activity generating spaces in the amenities encourage a sense of community amongst individuals of different backgrounds. The shared spaces and facilities should be designed in such a way that they become activity generators and the conversation stops for the users, thus encouraging a culture of community living.