Man builds solar-powered, app-controlled micro-home with "zombie mode" (Video)

Jono Williams
© Living Big In A Tiny House

A space where a guy might retreat to in order to have some time to himself, tinker on some personal project or indulge in other masculine rituals is colloquially called a "man cave" (though apparently, women can have an equal-opportunity rejoinder with the "she shed").

Wanting to build a more high-tech version of the classic man cave, New Zealander Jono Williams built this futuristic, solar-powered, smartphone-app-controlled micro-home. It's modern-looking, has an incredible panoramic view, and conveniently comes with a beer dispenser, hidden in its custom-designed couch. Take a tour of this incredible retreat with Living Big In A Tiny House:

Prior to building this structure, Williams -- who is a plastics engineer, graphic designer and owner of an IT company -- recounts that he constructed a treehouse out of salvaged materials five years ago. Dreaming of something even bigger, he began designing the Skysphere on the computer, gathering the materials he needed and even taking welding courses in town to brush up on his skills.

Jono Williams© Jono Williams

The Skysphere is located in Palmerston North, on Williams' father's farm, and is built out of 8-millimetre steel, on top of a 50-ton concrete slab. Though it is designed more of as weekend retreat rather than a permanent residence, its design allows it to withstand devastating earthquakes and high winds. Nevertheless, the Skysphere is made to be transportable, and can be disassembled and moved.

At the base, one gains access to the upper level via the central cylinder, which hides a ladder inside. Williams has plans to install a fingerprint-recognition device here, as the door can automatically open and close.

Jono Williams© Living Big In A Tiny House
Jono WilliamsLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture
Jono WilliamsLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture

Upstairs, one is greeted with an amazing view of the countryside. There is a bed and couch with hidden storage, and an entertainment center. Lights, doors, music, movie projector and beer dispenser are all voice-controlled via an Android mobile phone application. Yep, there is WiFi, and you can also get voice notifications about electricity supply levels. There's even a voice-activated "zombie mode" that will close the doors in the event of an emergency -- of the walking undead kind.

Jono Williams© Jono Williams
Jono Williams© Jono Williams
Jono WilliamsLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture
Jono WilliamsLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture

On the roof, where the ultra-efficient solar strips are located, one can stargaze and re-connect with the surrounding landscape.

Jono Williams© Living Big In A TIny House
Jono Williams© Jono Williams
Jono WilliamsLiving BIg In A Tiny House/Video screen capture

In all, Williams estimates that he spent USD $50,000 and 3,000 hours constructing this unique project, and it's a real departure from the quaint, rustic tiny homes we see all the time. Williams may build a toilet and shower somewhere inside or outside in the near future, and he and his girlfriend are also planning to create a greener, off-grid home in the future, using the lessons they've learned from building the Skysphere. More over at Living Big In A Tiny House, Stuff.co.nz and The Skysphere.

Tags: New Zealand | Small Spaces | Smart Home | Solar Power | video

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