Take Shelter

Launched at 2015 Pioneer’s Festival in Vienna, the Ecocapsule gives new meaning to living off the grid

by Miguel Ortega

Launched at 2015 Pioneer’s Festival in Vienna, the Ecocapsule gives new meaning to living off the grid

The Ecocapsule is flexible enough to adapt to different living conditions.

The Ecocapsule is flexible enough to adapt to different living conditions.

It looks like a miniature submarine or a child’s first attempt at a helicopter drawing—but don’t let its appearance fool you. The Ecocapsule, designed by Slovak-based architectural studio Nice Architects (nicearchitects.sk), is a well-crafted mobile house that maximizes spaces and energy generation. It comes complete with a folding bed, a kitchenette, toilet and shower, and ample storage space. The capsule is spacious for one, comfortable for two, and awkwardly intimate for three—depending on whom you bring along.

Based on ideal situations, the capsule can sustain its occupants’ energy requirements for up to a year. Its battery carries a maximum capacity of 9,744 watt-hours—roughly equivalent to 10 car batteries—that can be sustained by the capsule’s built-in 750-watt wind turbine and 2.6 sqm of solar panels. Water utilities are addressed by the capsule’s spherical shape, which efficiently collects rainwater and dew, affording its occupants the convenience of running water.

The Ecocapsule also boasts worldwide portability. The entire capsule conveniently fits in standard shipping containers without the need for any special preparations, making shipping and airlifting a breeze. Its 1,500 kg frame can be towed, pulled by pack animals or, in our case, carried easily during times of bayanihan.

These selling points are what make the Ecocapsule flexible enough to have a wide range of applications. It can be used as a small research station or even a tourist lodge, but more importantly, its designers claim it can be used for emergency housing in times of disaster. Although this humanitarian aspect of the Ecocapsule is yet to be confirmed (its price hasn’t been released yet, and isn’t expected to go on the market until the end of the year), offers a possible new option for countries that are regularly struck by calamities.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about the Ecocapsule comes from one of its concept art pieces, showing the house atop buildings. Bringing these off-grid houses into urban living could come into play in the near future, creating self-sustaining mobile neighborhoods for employees who can’t find a place to stay in the city. Because if you’ve tried looking and paying for your very own place in the country’s CBDs, you know those people might need humanitarian help as well.