Self-assembly off-the-grid towns proposed

The Ekinoid Project focuses on the idea that a spherical structure can provide a simple, practical, affordable off-grid housing solution suitable for any environment.
Date:24 April 2013 Author: Sean Woods Tags:, ,

Necessity, they say, is the mother of all invention. So it goes without saying that our growing population (expected to rise to around 9 billion by 2050), coupled with shrinking areas of viable land to house us all, has prompted a number of budding futurists to put their thinking caps on. The UK-based Ekinoid Project is the just latest of many ideas proposing a viable solution. It intends developing self-assembled, self-sustaining, stilt-mounted spherical homes, then clustering them in towns on land previously considered unsuitable for human settlement, such as in deserts or floodplains.

According to the project’s Richard Harries, a sphere has the maximum volume to minimum surface area ratio of any shape in nature (that is, 25 per cent more than a cube). Spheres are also structurally light, yet retain their strength in any conditions. Says Harries: “Our project focuses on the idea that a spherical structure can deliver a simple, practical, affordable housing solution, suitable for any environment. A structure whose parts can be both mass produced (locally, wherever practicable) and fabricated onsite by unskilled hands.”

If the project ever succeeds, each home will incorporate a number of self-sustaining systems, allowing them to live permanently off the grid: wind and solar power generation, rainwater collection, grey water and in-house sewage treatment and composting. And, thanks to a glass/ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) stairwell enclosure, they’ll be able to house a multi-level hydroponic greenhouse, giving occupants the ability to crow most of their own food. The stilts (raising the main structure over two metres off the ground) not only remove the threat of flooding in low lying areas, but also allow the land underneath to be better utilised.

The Ekinoid Project is presently seeking active, on-going collaborations to get their concept off the ground. Says Harries: “We want to forge partnerships with universities regarding architectural, structural engineering and materials solutions. We also want to involve product designers, graphic designers, 3D-graphics artists and town planners. And, although we are based in the UK, we would be very happy to work with any sympathetic bodies worldwide. This is a global project – we’re looking for global partnerships, global solutions.”

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