Modern living is expensive. You buy or rent your property and then have to pay utilities such as water and electricity on top of that. And then rates and taxes…

Have you ever dreamed of living in an off-the-grid home so that you never have to pay a cent in utilities again? The world’s first Ecocapsule may be the answer you are looking for. Released at the end of 2015, the egg-shaped pod will be available for shipping soon. It is transportable, weighing 1,500kg and measuring 3m by 5m, and can be packed into a transport container or onto the back of a trailer. So it can be placed anywhere you like – maybe the mountains in winter, or the seaside in summer, on a riverbank for a fishing trip, or just alongside your house for a quiet studio.

Cool design meets sustainability

This little off-the-grid home, designed by Nice Architects, will provide sustainable electricity with solar panels and a wind turbine, which charge a 750 watt battery that can also charge your electric car. There is also a dual power system to give you a boost if sun and wind are scarce. Rainwater is collected as it runs off the outer surface, it is then filtered and stored below the pod to be used for the toilet, shower and mini-kitchen. The highly efficient design also allows for a double bed and storage space. The pod might suit nature lovers, scientists, artists and photographers, or anyone who might want to live off-the-grid, maybe even the hard put residents of high-rent areas like Manhattan. The only bitter pill concerning the Ecocapsule is the price, at a cool $86 000. That is approximately R1,5 million, but Nice Architects assure us that the price will come down in future.

Renzo Piano, Italian architect well-known for designs such as the Shard, London also built an off-the-grid home that is a bit more affordable at $45 000 (approximately R75 000). The Pritzker-prize winning architect, made the Diogene prototype as an experiment in sustainable design for furniture company Vitra. The 3m by 2.5m house sports a living area complete with a foldaway desk and chair, sofa bed and hidden storage. In a separate area there is a composting toilet, shower plate and kitchenette with sink and refrigerator. The house is enclosed with a lightweight, durable shell made from cross-laminated cedar timber panels and a thin aluminum exterior that can withstand extremes in weather from heat to snowstorms. Solar panels power the geyser, interior LED lights, stove and fridge and rainwater is collected and stored in containers under the structure.


Build your own

For South Africans, a financially viable off-the-grid home might mean making your own. The open source philosophy involves sharing ideas so that common people can benefit from expert knowledge. You can download the plans for your house for free from Wikihouse and it is made for easy assembly so the main cost will be the materials. Once you have downloaded the plans you can send them to a saw mill where pieces of your house will be cut by a computer numerical control (CNC) machine. This underlines sustainable design objectives – sourcing materials locally to minimise transport costs, and the process involves a minimum of production resources. You can also add solar panels and rain filters to your house to maximise sustainablity.

For more innovative ideas on sustainability design check out the Autodesk green building studio.

Image courtesy of Brightside