We all have our fantasies about lighting a match to our careers and going off grid. But they come to a grinding halt as soon as we tally the logistical hassle and financial toll of building a house in the middle of nowhere.
Which is exactly what makes the Ecocapsule, a late stage prototype by the Slovakia-based Nice Architects, so appealing. It’s a two-person pod that you can tow (or even pull by animal) to the middle of nowhere, and thanks to solar panels on top, a built-in wind turbine, and an integrated rain-collection system, it can sustain your lifestyle at you-probably-won’t-die levels while offering unlimited charging for your Kindle.
“It was designed as a self-contained system which is able to sustain long periods of time without external resources,” explains studio partner Igor Zacek. “Something in terms of Swiss-army knife–it packs everything you need.”
The space includes a folding bed for two, a flushing toilet and hot shower, a kitchenette with a sink that filters rainwater, a dining or working counter, and storage. To eliminate a coffin effect, it features two, large, openable windows on each side of the capsule. The company recommends that people live in the pods for about a year at a time.
The exterior shell is made from plastic, which keeps production prices low. Plus it makes the pod a lot lighter and easier to transport than, say, an Airstream. (That metallic finish is actually a 3M foil wrap, meaning buyers could customize their capsules if they’d like.) And the capsules are sized to fit into a standard freight shipping container, so they can be delivered worldwide for a few thousand dollars.
Right now, the pods need to be towed to their destination by car on a wheeled platform–not very eco-friendly. “[The wheelless build] is result of our professional focus as architects,” Zacek explains. “It was built as a house.” That said, Nice Architects realized that wheels made sense, too, so they’ve planned a wheeled version as well.
The Ecocapsule is a second-generation prototype, and the firm doesn’t plan to release pricing information until it has something on the production line. Whether you’re shelling out a few thousand dollars for it or $20,000, living utility bill-free for a year could do a lot to subsidize your capsule’s mortgage payments.