AN Oxfordshire firm aims to raise £400,000 to step-up production of its futuristic eco-pods.

Green Unit’s crowdfunding campaign through Crowdcube, which is live until November 6, has already attracted pledges worth more than £70,000.

The firm’s Arc building, which is low-carbon with a grass or moss-covered green roof, is built offsite and fitted out with plumbing and electrics before being craned into place where needed.

The curved engineered timber pods can be used as housing, offices, visitor centres, community buildings, school classrooms or holiday lodges.

Co-founder, Jonathan Finnerty, believes the Arc could help ease the housing crisis, by providing bungalow-style living for over-65s.

He explained: “I see a big opportunity with the retirement market because people looking to downsize and retire generally want to be in single-storey building.

“What you are then doing is getting people out of their big, four-bedroom homes and they are releasing equity, so they can pay for their social care and are living in an exciting, inspired space on a single level.”

The hobbit-style house has just landed a starring role in an international online campaign for Nissan's electric Leaf car, featuring The Wolf of Wall Street and Neighbours actress Margot Robbie.

Ms Robbie is seen moving around inside the Arc, before the 20-tonne building is

towed away by an electric-powered Nissan van.

Chartered accountant Mr Finnerty, who is head of finance, said the company was approached 'out of the blue'.

He said: "Nissan wanted a futuristic and very sustainable building and everything they say in that advert is very much where we are heading.

“We want our building to be very futuristic, very low carbon and very efficient in terms of how it operates.”

A one-bedroom Arc home typically costs £85,000-90,000.

It has taken five years to develop a prototype and a two-storey version was exhibited at the Ideal Home Exhibition last year.

The firm has already sold £800,000-worth of prototypes.

An office version was snapped up by Google for its Kings Cross head office in London and the NHS bought a unit to use as a palliative care welcome centre.

Another eco-pod was supplied to The Tree House primary school in Cholsey last year, which is used as a classroom.

Other potential customers include an eco-holiday resort in Jersey.

The firm is moving to Lockwood Farm, a former aircraft hangar on the edge of Culham Science Park, from its current base near Chiselhampton.

It plans to recruit 20 staff, including roles in marketing, design and production control, during the next 18 months.

By 2021, Mr Finnerty expects to be manufacturing the equivalent of 50-60 two-bedroom homes a year and generating turnover of £6.4m.

The firm has also applied for a £170,000 rural development grant and will find out in January if it has been successful.

Mr Finnerty added: “We are not quite at the affordable housing level yet, although we are trying to head in that direction.

“With this factory move, we know the efficiencies we will enjoy from more space,

more machinery will enable us to get to affordable housing prices.”

For more information about the crowdfunding campaign, see