The Skysphere, perched 33-feet above the ground in scenic New Zealand, was born out of a late night conversation between plastics engineer/graphic designer Jono Williams and a friend.
"Initially my plan was to build some sort of structure in a tree or between multiple trees. After fighting with designs for months - trying to come up with something that would be completely robust (would not get damaged by forces applied to trees in high winds and the natural tendency for trees to grow), I let go of the idea of building the tree house in the tree - why not support the structure by a huge steel column that you can fix virtually anywhere?"
Thus started Williams' foray into building and architecture, which should earn him the title of "Ultimate DIY'er" (Williams had completed the design and purchased materials before he even knew how to weld). The Skysphere is a futuristic take on the classic treehouse, decked out from top to bottom with smart technology, and powered by customized solar strips Williams designed and had manufactured in China.
The Skysphere is android-controlled, requires fingerprint recognition to activate its motorized door, and comes complete with a computer-generated voice dialogue (which welcomes guests by name upon entry). Williams didn't skimp on tech inside the 270 square-foot living space of the Skysphere either, which includes "colored mood LED lighting," a Miracast projector for man cave movie marathons, and even a refrigerated in-couch beer dispenser. The crown jewel of the structure however is the epic 360 degree view of miles of New Zealand landscape seen from the Skysphere's customized window.
The Skysphere was completed after three years and 3,000 man hours of work, with the guidance of professionals who could do quality-control for building safety. According to TreeHugger:
"The Skysphere had to be very carefully designed for safety. With help from Grant and others, Jono learned everything he needed to know about foundation design, structural engineering, earthquake simulation, and wind simulation. The window, for example, is made with polycarbonate, which Jono says shrinks and expands more than steel, so he had to engineer a special seal system with 2-inch flexibility to ensure the 360 degree window can withstand high-force winds. The window is 6.5 feet tall and has a diameter of 46 feet and offers the kind of views you can only find at the top of a mountain."
While the materials used to build the Skysphere could have been more sustainable, Williams' vision is impressively innovative and a tech nerd's dream. The project cost $50,000 to complete, but it's a long-term investment for Williams, who hopes to move the structure to a seaside location down the road, and build a downstairs floor that could accommodate full-time living.