Suburban Utopia

How this self-sustainable microhome may change the future of housing

Looking for a self-sustainable mobile microhome? Ecocapsule got you covered. This cute-as-pie capsule pod allows you to live completely off the grid in a low-energy, mobile dwelling, packed into a compact egg-shaped form. And now, it’s finally possible to pre-order one, as the Slovak company has just launched the production of their first series of self-sustainable pods, and we were curious to hear what’s next.

This peculiar housing pod was initially thought of as a ‘frontier dwelling’ intended for people residing in nature for longer periods of time (think field study researchers or professional photographers). However, in 2015, the Slovakian firm Nice&Wise (former “Nice Architects”) presented Ecocapsule’s concept as the ultimate shelter for all eco-nomads looking to live off the grid for a while, in pretty much any location on Earth.

It was not until January 31st that the first fully functional capsule made its public debut. Transported by a helicopter, this egg-shaped home flew over Bratislava’s city center and safely landed onto the roof of UNIQ’s modern building. This was the first out of a total of 50 exclusive pieces, which are intended to be delivered within the US, Japan, Australia and the EU by the end of this year. Freedom often comes with a price, and in this case, it’s set at roughly seventy-nine thousand euros. As explained by co-founder and current CEO, Tomáš Žáček, the manufacture of the more affordable mass-produced second series can be expected at the beginning of next year.

Ecocapsule on the roof of UNIQ building in Bratislava.
The first Ecocapsule on a roof top in Bratislava. Photo by Michal Chudik, ©Ecocapsule Holding.

All you need in 8,2 square meters

Surprisingly, everything you need to survive can be stored within 8,2 square meters: This tiny mobile capsule is equipped with a smart home system and comes with a sleeping space for two, a kitchenette, shower and toilet, storage space, and even electrical outlets, which are solely powered by a low-noise wind turbine and solar panels. The spheroid shape is of no coincidence, as it is designed to maximize the collection of rainwater and dew, as well as to minimize energy loss.

This complete set of innovative features makes Ecocapsule a unique eco-friendly and multipurpose unit, that could be used for a plenty of other potential applications. Besides a nomadic housing alternative, it could also serve as an independent research station or a remote tourist cabin, or even as a shelter in humanitarian emergencies.

The view from inside one Ecocapsule.
The view from inside one Ecocapsule. ©Ecocapsule Holding.

A housing revolution?

While our current housing scheme appears to push us further away from nature, keeping humans within structured urban spaces, Ecocapsule offers an original alternative that aims to revert that trend without compromising the natural environment. It acts as a bridge that can help us reconnect with our primitive past of living in nature.

What’s interesting about this housing alternative, is that it has the potential to redefine the way humans interact with nature. It shows us how living in nature becomes possible without having to compromise our contemporary basic living needs: internet, electricity, drinking water.

With this in mind, we approached Matej Gyárfáš, Creative Communication Director at Ecocapsule, to learn more about the significant consequences this new home could have in our lives. Gyárfáš believes that the primary aspect to consider is the capsule’s self-sustainability.

Ecocapsule leaves almost no footprint, so every Ecocapsule user is saving the environment while living in it.

Ever wondered how much electricity you consumed yesterday? Or how much water you use each day? It’s no surprise that most of us would not know an accurate answer to these questions. We are just comfortably assured that, as long as we pay our bills, water and electricity will be available to us. According to Gyárfáš, this particular aspect of our current lifestyle would directly be affected by Ecocapsule, as it aims to foster a change in user habits and behavior toward natural resources:

“We have always wanted Ecocapsule to have an educational impact. Using the smart-home app, the users have a very realistic overview on how much energy they spend. So they become aware of it. Just as you know how much money you have on your account, how much you make and spend, you should also know how much energy your lifestyle requires. And you become more responsible in terms of energy-spending.”

With this built-in feature, users know exactly how much water and electricity they spend per hour, day, or month. And more importantly, they become aware of how much time it takes for their self-sustainable home to keep up with their living habits. In other words, users can get a sense of the real value of energy. The sense of responsibility towards the environment would thus be naturally enhanced.

Ecocapsule owners on their way to surf.
Ecocapsule owners on their way to surf. ©Ecocapsule Holding

At Ecocapsule –Gyárfáš explains– they try to keep an optimistic view on the world; however, although they would “love the idea of Ecocapsule changing the world, the current status quo requires a lot of effort in a multitude of areas in order for the world to change for the better. So we never think so far as to expect Ecocapsules to instate a completely new way of living. We do think, however, that every Ecocapsule user will be affected by our product in a very positive way and this will have a good impact on the environment.”

The question remains of whether the eventual spread of Ecocapsule’s way of living could encourage us to re-shape the urban landscape as we know it and instate a more sustainable society in the future, where its members could be rewarded depending on their energy consumption habits. This fact could perhaps help bring us closer to ‘making environmental value more explicit in economical terms.

While it may still be too soon to declare the rise of Ecocapsule as the start of a housing revolution, it certainly holds the potential to be a game-changer in our future way of living. Gyárfáš does not hesitate to admit that: “We did not create Ecocapsule with this goal in mind, but based on thousands of people giving us feedback, it seems that it will be a game changer indeed – at least in mid-term housing. We are not aware of any no other product on the market that combines the basic characteristics of Ecocapsule – smart, self-sustainable and mobile. We don’t know if people will live in Ecocapsules (or something similar) in fifty years, but it sure would be a nice thing.”


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