A self-assembled spherical house may sound like a simple idea, but the founders of the Ekinoid Project are extraordinarily ambitious. It's thought that the global population could reach 9 billion by 2050, and to house some of those 2 billion extra people, the Ekinoid Project would see pop-up off-grid towns of its spheroid pods accommodate 10,000 people at a time in some of Earth's least hospitable places.

Spherical houses might sound like a gimmick, and an ineffective use of space, but the designers think that a sphere provides great structural strength while markedly reducing the amount of raw materials required for each sphere.

It's thought that Ekinoids would be made from either steel or glued laminated timber, which would be insulated or clad according to your inhospitable environment of choice. The deserts of Australia, Siberia, Mongolia and Africa are ripe for Ekinoid towns, according to the project website. Flood plains, too, become viable with the addition of an Ekinoid town, the website claims.

As is often the case, the off-grid rationale reads like a sustainable technology shopping list. The project website cites wind and solar power for energy needs, rainwater harvesting and gray water treatment for water, built-in sewage treatment and composting for disposing of the unspeakable, and hydroponics for food. Alas, no amount of rainwater harvesting equipment will actually make it rain: something to consider, perhaps, before spending your mortgage on Ekinoid 8,442, Sahara Desert.

It's claimed that a single Ekinoid can be built in a week by a team of four, including a skilled organizer. Having built one sphere, it's argued that those workers become skilled, and are able to supervise the construction of other spheres. In this way, the residents of an Ekinoid town would build their own houses (with a crane or two to unload and move the prefabricated kits as they're delivered).

The Ekinoid Project is currently seeking collaborators in academia: students get a research subject, the Ekinoid Project gets some feasibility guidance in return. The intention is for Ekinoids to be as affordable as possible, and it's hoped that all the necessary materials could be prefabricated for a cost of £50,000 (US$77,000).

The idea is still very much in the formative stages, but what information there is can be found at the project's website. It'll be interesting to see if this one goes any further.

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