If you’ve ever fantasized about going off the grid, that dream could soon become reality. A new housing alternative designed by architecture studio Nice Architects offers simple living in a self-sustainable and smart mobile microhome. Now, after a decade of prototyping and revising, fully livable units are finally ready to be dispatched to customers, albeit in limited quantities for now.
Christened the Ecocapsule, the tiny house resembles an egg, or a plump, mini version of Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate.” This ovoid shape is eye-catching but actually serves to enhance the unit’s long-term energy independence. Its curved shell, comprised of a fiberglass body with a steel frame, is designed to maximize rain water collection and minimize energy loss. A closer look at its streamlined appearance reveals details designed to boost its efficiency, from a water filtration system to a roof outfitted with solar panels and a wind turbine.
A long bench occupies one side of the single-room space, serving as both sleeping and seating area, and faces a table that can fold down. The rest of the dwelling is devoted to a compact kitchen and bathroom, which has a separating, waterless toilet. Three windows offer light and prevent the room from resembling a fancy cell, and a HVAC unit provides comfortable temperatures. The Ecocapsule is even equipped with a smart home system and sensors, enabling you to monitor and control all systems not only with a control panel but with an app on your smartphone. That, of course, requires you to connect to a data network.
The tiny house has undergone development since 2008, when the Bratislava-based firm first designed its first unit for a competition. Although it did not win an award, strong public interest in the project fueled the team to produce a working unit. Last month, Nice Architects finally unveiled their first finished Ecocapsule in Bratislava. While that one has already been claimed by a customer in Japan (a nation that has long embraced tiny homes), the firm is working to produce and deliver the first series of Ecocapsules. Limited, for now, to 50 pieces, the microhome will cost you € 79,900 plus a € 2,000 deposit, or in US dollars, a total of about $100,258. The team plans to begin mass producing a second series in early 2019, and these are available now for pre-order for interested parties based in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the European Union. It’s likely that this second round of Ecocapsules will cost less as the cost of technologies change over time.
Although the first Ecocapsule was flown by helicopter to the roof of a building where the launch occurred, the capsules are designed for less elaborate transport. You can hook it on to a car or pack it into a standard shipping container to send around the world. While it can be used as a long-term residence, a holiday home, or perhaps a cozy site for a residency, it can also be quickly dispatched as an emergency shelter during disasters.