As a Designer, I firmly believe that Beauty will eventually save the World and looking at this egg-shaped aesthetically pleasing product of Design I feel that Europeans might be the new saviors of the American Dream that is currently experiencing a bit of a relevance problem.
The Ecocapsule could be the first commercially available technological solution that will disrupt humanity's understanding of how sustainable/eco-friendly housing looks like, with a shift from heavy, static and inefficient boxes of all sorts, to the sleek, compact and energy-efficient appliance-like personal pods that for sure look like a visitor from the future.
But what would it take to actually make it happen in the United States? Well, just a few minor things!
Could European EcoCapsule become a Solution for the Housing Crisis in the United States?
by Designer/NYS Licensed Realtor, Maxwell Alexander / Editor-in-Chief, Hudson Valley Style Magazine
With billions of dollars spent by the government and countless non-profit organizations powered by socially responsible citizens trying to solve the homelessness problem, the horizon is still bleak for most of the half-a-million adults, men, women, and children that live on the streets of the land of the brave and home of the free (according to the most optimistic estimates of the National Alliance to end Homelessness). And while the economy keeps booming and virtually expanding, so do the numbers of homeless people living on the streets of New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco and practically every other semi-large city in the United States (including even a bigger housing problem on the islands of Hawaii). So is it really the actual cost of housing that is the problem here? As a New Yorker, I can tell you: yes it is!
Living and running a business in the US capital of the highest tax rates, I can report first hand that the current situation with ridiculously high taxes contributes not only to the high cost of housing but the cost of living in general.
So now here is my view as a Designer and real estate expert, on how an amazingly beautiful technology solution like Slovakian Ecocapsule could actually have a chance at solving the American Housing Crisis:
#1: Comprehensive Property Tax Reform
Local municipalities will not have an incentive to solve a housing crisis until they are, for the most part, depending on the property tax revenue. You can't charge a property tax on an appliance that provides affordable housing to people, but you can charge tax on a huge mansion that can house a few and even fewer can afford. So at the moment, municipalities will do their best sending out building code violations to everyone who even attempts to get an Ecocapsule in their backyard.
#2: Comprehensive Zonning Regulations Reform
Originally zoning regulations meant well for the communities they protected, but nowadays zoning regulations only protect the wealthy, the artificially inflated real estate values and yet again property tax revenue. A housing solution like Ecocapsule won't be possible until it is actually legal, and for now, I doubt it is in most parts of the country.
#3: If you thought the first 2 are nearly impossible, check this one out: Cultural Shift in the definition of the American Dream
Yep, that might take centuries to accomplish! Owning and living in a brick and mortar home is a concept hardwired into our DNA during thousands of years living in those wood and cement boxes that we call homes. Are you telling me that I am going to live in an appliance-like machine, even if it's all smart and does the job for a fraction of the cost and with a higher level of comfort? Most won't agree, but if you ask a Millennial or rather gen. Z individual, they might have a different answer since they basically grew up surrounded by technology.
Here is the deal: It wasn't easy for Airbnb and Uber to sweep away entire industries with sleek and shiny technological solutions, so it would take just as much for the Ecocapsule to make its way into our everyday lives. Technology evolves and gets better and more accessible over time, so we can only hope that one day we can go to the Ecocapsule dealership down the road and lease ourselves a brand new Ecocapsule for $90/month and that would be the max we'll ever spend for our housing needs. Until then, enjoy the amazing features of the futuristic egg-shaped Ecocasule machine that could one day solve the US Housing Crisis!
THE MOBILE, SELF-SUSTAINABLE MICRO HOME
Ecocapsule® is a mobile, self-sustainable, smart micro-home, that utilizes solar and wind energy. It allows people to live in remote places out of reach of infrastructure while retaining a high level of living comfort. It can be used as a cottage, pop-up hotel, caravan, houseboat, research station, etc.
Ecocapsule® is powered by a dual system of energy production, which - in connection with high-capacity batteries - ensures energetic self-sufficiency even in the case of a temporary lack of sources. Ecocapsule® also has an electric plug, enabling to charge the batteries from an external electric source if needed.
The spheroid shape of Ecocapsule® is designed to maximize the collection of rainwater and dew. The water filters consequently ensure the transformation of water from any natural source into clean water. The design of the outer shell also minimizes energy loss. Hollow walls filled with highly efficient thermal insulation protect inhabitants from the harsh environment and help achieve a performance almost on the level of a passive house. Furthermore, the unique visual design makes Ecocapsule® a piece of art that stands out in every environment.
Ecocapsule® is optimized for easy transportation. It can fit into a standard 40'HC shipping container and therefore can easily be shipped globally with the lowest shipping fees possible. The custom-designed trailer enables transportation of the Ecocapsule® with a passenger car, giving it caravan-like possibilities.
Ecocapsule® is a company that strongly believes in sustainable development. We offer a housing alternative that fully utilizes the latest innovative technological solutions, enables people to connect in harmony with nature and at the same time minimizes the negative impact on the environment.
ECOCAPSULE: HISTORY AND PURPOSE
The story of Ecocapsule® has begun in the 2009, when the architectural studio Nice Architects participated in the Andes Sprout Society Idea Competition to design a small housing unit for an artist. Although the design wasn't awarded in the competition, the breaking point for the project was when inhabitat.com chose Ecocapsule® into their selection of the most interesting picks from the competition. A massive amount of inquiries persuaded us to develop this project further. Yet, the technology in 2009 wasn't ready for a truly independent house.
Within the next five years, the founders have been working on the technological and product design of the Ecocapsule® in order to bring the best possible product. In 2014, the development of technology has finally allowed them to finish the Ecocapsule® prototype equipped with systems necessary for long time independence. It was designed as a self-contained system able to sustain long periods of time without external resources. Long term off-grid stay has always been burdened by a lack of resources and constant resupply. Usually this means a constant flow of equipment and fuel, which is time consuming and has a negative impact on the environment. The fact that Ecocapsule® is equipped with everything needed limits its impact on the environment just to its footprint.
At first Ecocapsule® was intended as a frontier dwelling. A housing unit for people who need to stay in nature for a longer time – e.g. scientists, photographers, rangers or extreme tourists. Easy mobility, containerization and long-term energy independence have opened up new ways to utilize the potential of the Ecocapsule®. The capsule can be quickly shipped and used as housing for emergency teams in rapid response situations where infrastructure is damaged. Teams can directly approach their tasks without the need to build their base and facilities. The capsule can serve here as a small power plant and water filtration unit.
With time, other groups of people have also expressed interest in Ecocapsule®, such as single people in high-rent, high-income areas like NYC or Silicone Valley. Here, the capsule can be placed on the rooftop or a vacant space and substitute a studio for a longer period of time.
Since its initial design, Ecocapsule® has been featured in most important media outlets around the world. Team members have been giving lectures and presentations at prestigious events, conferences, fairs and workshops. Apart from the business aspect, the Ecocapsule® team constantly tries to spread the ideas of sustainable development to a wide public, as well as to raise awareness of ecological issues.
ECOCAPSULE: TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Ecocapsule® is 4,67m long, 2,20m wide and 2,50m tall (4,10m tall with the extended wind turbine pole). The gross floor area is 8,2 square meters. The capsule weighs 1350kg when empty and 1650kg with full water tanks. The wind turbine provides approximately 750W, the solar panels on the rooftop around 880W peak. The battery capacity is 9 kWh. The Ecocapsule body is made from fiberglass, overlaid on a steel frame and filled with high-quality polyurethane foam insulation.
The basic electrical system is 48V, the sockets 110/230V. Ecocapsule® can be connected to an outer 110/230V electrical network and uses LED lights for illumination. Lightning protection is included. The HVAC unit provides heating, cooling and air exchange.
The water comes from two sources: it is either collected as rainwater or supplied from an external source (stream, lake, camp water, etc.). The water is cleaned via a series of filters including a double UV LED filter. This system filters out 99,998% of dirt, so you are left with clean water. Potable water is also provided by filters installed on faucets. Ecocapsule® uses a waterless, separating toilet.
Ecocapsule® has a smart home system and sensors. The user interface is a special mobile phone app that provides detailed monitoring and control of all systems. Data network connection is available within 2G/3G/4G coverage.
Established in 2015, the Slovak company Ecocapsule® designs and produces the mobile, self-sustainable micro home of the same name. Equipped with solar panels and a wind turbine, it can also harvest rain water, as well as filter water from natural sources. This makes Ecocapsule® a truly off-grid home, allowing people to live far from civilization, practically anywhere. Ecocapsule® is a multipurpose unit, which can be used as a house, caravan, houseboat, hotel, research station etc.