A computer render of Ekinoid.
A UK project is trying to create a method of sustainable, disaster-proof, off-the-grid living for thousands around the globe.
We have to admit, there's something appealing about the idea of going off the grid; we imagine a certain exhilaration that comes with that freedom. The same goes for sustainable living. In our current lifestyles, we waste a lot of power, water, packaging and food.
In our current lifestyles, though — city- or town-dwelling, working daily jobs — these two ideas just aren't very feasible. But the world's population is ever growing, so how long can the globe continue to support it?
Enter Ekinoid. This project is aimed at providing cheap, sustainable housing for towns of up to 10,000, using open-source plans. Standing at a height of 12.8 metres tall, with an internal diameter of 9.75 metres, the house would provide 239 square metres of living space over three floors. For context, Australians build the world's largest homes — 214 square metres on average, according to CommSec (PDF).
So, over a much smaller footprint, the Ekinoid could potentially provide enough space for a family of four.
Each home is accessible via a spiral staircase that can also act as a hydroponic garden for growing food; collects rainwater and recycles grey water; stands on legs off the ground to be flood and storm proof; and is powered by a solar panel, with the option to add a wind turbine. Additional energy could be siphoned off and stored in a small local grid to be shared among communities.
The spiral staircase can also be shared between four of the spherical homes, linking them together. So if a family needs more space, that can be supported. And, because the building stands off the ground, the land beneath can be used for other purposes.
The idea is that the homes would be available in kits with pre-fabricated parts, and four people (three skilled and one unskilled) could complete construction in less than a week. The kit to build the home is forecast to cost about AU$74,000, with additional costs for skilled help and the hydroponic garden.
There is ... the real prospect of building in areas not suitable for conventional dwellings, eg, flood plains: the main structure of the Ekinoid home sits 7 feet (over 2 metres) off the ground. Every year, about 18 per cent of Bangladesh floods during the monsoon, yet during a severe flood, 75 per cent of the country may be affected; however, the waters are rarely over knee height.
If it works as planned, swathes of land heretofore considered uninhabitable could possibly support human communities.
It's still in the design and prototyping stages at this point, with the Ekinoid team currently seeking funding. You can read more on the Ekinoid website.