The sleek, egg-shaped capsule resembles a spaceship, complete with antennae and a layer of futuristic cells.
But the striking design from Slovakian group Nice Architects represents a creative effort to offer housing solutions for this planet. The ‘Ecocapsule‘ is a mini apartment with all the conventional luxuries you would expect, but generates its own clean energy and can be situated anywhere, from city to tundra.
After six years of development, the capsule was unveiled to rapturous acclaim at a recent design festival. Nice Architects have already received thousands of pre-orders and the buzz has extended to celebrities.
“We were not prepared for the reaction,” says Nice partner Igor Zacek. “We started small but now we have to revise our model.”
The capsule marries form and function with stylish aesthetics. It powers itself through solar cells that cover the roof and a retractable 750W wind turbine, while the curved shape maximizes energy efficiency and allows for the collection of rainwater, which built in filters make safe for human consumption.
These measures make it practical in even the most remote locations, and for ease of transport it fits within a regulation shipping container.
As for living conditions, the design maximizes the eight square meters of interior space, managing to fit in in a folding bed, workspace that doubles as a dining area, en suite bathroom, kitchenette and storage.
Zacek sees specialist and general purposes for the capsule: “One use is businesses hospitality for entrepreneurs,” he says, adding that many of the pre-orders have been for multiple units from hotel affiliates.
“We also thought of people that have a relationship with nature, but based on the response it could be for almost everybody, it has caught the imagination and reminded people of childhood dreams.”
The architects have also worked to make the design better suited to the urban environment, making the shape more compact and improving energy efficiency.
Zacek believes it offers solutions for city dwellers suffering overcrowded conditions and exorbitant rents.
“We talked about areas with high rents. Google used to house employees in a van until they could afford to buy a house. This could be a better solution.”
Faced with enormous demand, the designers are now seeking to evolve the concept further. More intelligent features such as weather prediction software will be included in future incarnations, as well as a wheeled chassis for greater mobility.
As for the psychology of living in a capsule, Zacek believes users will be pleasantly surprised by the comfort.
“It seems quite small from outside, but spacious from inside. There are a lot of options where to go (in future), once we are established on the market, we can play with scenarios.”
Other architects seem to agree — the egg shape is emerging as a popular concept for green living space.
When the Ecocapsule reaches the market next year, the buzz will reach new heights.