There's more than a hint of sci-fi about them. But these spherical pods are very much a reality.

They are known as 'Conkers' and are billed as an innovative way of building homes.

This iteration is set up as a two-bedroom apartment, complete with living areas and a dining kitchen.

But the original inspiration has far more humble beginnings.

"The Conker originally started with a treehouse for my children, and they wanted something like a shed in our trees,” said Jag Virdie, Conker Living founder and designer of the pods.

“And there was no way I was going to build a shed. So we decided that we were going to build a ball or a sphere".

His idea has evolved considerably since.

Eco-friendly homes

As a former luxury vehicle and aerospace engineer, Virdie has used his expertise to create a more environmentally friendly way of living.

Materials are lightweight and sourced locally, reducing the amount of energy and carbon footprint needed for construction.

The pods require little or no foundations, so the ground doesn't have to be dug up to build them, and there's no guttering - enabling rainwater to run off and be reabsorbed into the earth.

Virdie has also engineered them to be energy-efficient to live in, too, with insulation and a heat recovery system that provides warm or cool air depending on the season.

"We all think about ways of saving energy, and saving energy isn't easy. Therefore I wanted to look at what was out there in terms of passive buildings and things which were able to stand above the ground rather than on the ground,” Virdie said.

“The Conker allows us to put enough insulation all the way around it to minimise energy usage inside the Conker to between 500 to 750 watts, so we could run it on solar panels".

Affordable housing?

One Conker, fitted with underfloor heating and electrics, costs £29,000 plus VAT (€34,767).

Virdie estimates it would cost around £100,000 (€120,000) to build a one-bedroom 'starter home', plus the cost of the land.

But for him, the real beauty of this system is the ability to adapt and expand the house as the owner's needs change.

"This is really quite a pipe dream. The idea was that as a young person or a young couple, you buy two Conkers together and then you have a child, then you order another room so you can latch another Conker to the two that you've got,” Virdie said.

“And then you get another child and you can get another one and latch it around the house. And just imagine when the kids leave home, you could end up with the child taking their shell with them to start their own home".

Glamping pods

Conker Living has built 39 of his pods so far.

They are mainly bought by businesses to be used as video conference rooms, information centres and even luxury camping accommodation.

For those who don't mind a hike, there's even a Conker installed at a lofty height.

"We've got one on top of a mountain in Wales and it's been there for three years, which is our first-ever Conker. And it's still standing there, proud, in all the storms and everything else,” Virdie said.

“The Conker's main attribute to all of those things storm-related, is that they're aerodynamic. They will still be there after the storm".