When his employees' homes were destroyed in the war with Russia, one Ukrainian entrepreneur designed easy-to-build houses they could live in instead.
As the war rages on across Ukraine, millions have been forced to flee their homes, leaving behind shattered lives and shattered communities.
However, amidst this turmoil, a beacon of hope has emerged in the form of an innovative housing concept designed to provide displaced families with dignified and rapid shelter.
Alex Stepura, the founder of HOMErs, a company that specialises in modular housing solutions, found himself confronted with an unexpected challenge as the conflict unfolded.
After realising that a substantial portion of his workforce had been forced to flee the capital, Stepura was determined to bring them back.
However, the lack of suitable housing posed a significant hurdle. "If I invite people (to) return to Kyiv, where will they actually live?" Stepura explains.
Undeterred, Stepura harnessed his engineering prowess and factory resources to create a revolutionary housing concept. Eschewing traditional construction methods involving concrete and bricks, Stepura leveraged robotics technology to produce modular homes.
These homes, composed of easily assembled and disassembled modules, provided a fast and efficient solution to the housing crisis.
From ruins to residences
Within a matter of weeks, the first prototype was born.
Since then, nearly 100 of these modular homes have sprouted across Ukraine, providing a lifeline to those left homeless by the conflict.
The modular design not only ensures quick assembly and disassembly but also allows for expansion and customisation to accommodate growing families or changing needs.
The houses have also transcended their initial crisis-driven purpose, finding application in more stable environments.
In England, for instance, one of these homes sits on the grounds of a country estate, signalling the concept's potential for broader adoption.
Chris Baxter, a major investor and co-founder of HOMErs, moved his own family into one of the modular homes during renovations.
Baxter's personal experience attests to the concept's success, even in less dire circumstances. "It's been extraordinarily positive, really... the property has been tested in quite extreme circumstances. It's held up well," Baxter noted.
The modular homes, each composed of four modules spanning 36 square meters, can be constructed within days.
Baxter likened the design to building with Lego bricks, where customisation and evolution are inherent.
As HOMErs seeks to expand its reach beyond Ukraine, the design has evolved as well.
The initial utilitarian concept has been enhanced with a sleek more luxury design and features like terracing to maximise the sense of space.
HOMErs have established a factory in Slovakia, with plans to produce 600 modules per month, translating to approximately 100 homes.
With an estimated cost of around €55,000 for a fully furnished four-module house, HOMErs is striving to fulfil a crucial need for dignified and affordable housing.
"There's no question, all around the world there is a massive need for affordable housing. And what we're trying to do here is provide something which is not just affordable, but it's comfortable, it's dignified," Baxter emphasises.
As the HOMErs initiative gains traction, the company is embarking on a crowdfunding campaign to secure up to 3 million euros in funding for further expansion.
Check out the video above for a closer look at these innovative modular homes.