WALDOBORO, Maine — In Judy Bernier’s backyard is a spherical building covered with pale cedar shingles, sporting a UFO-like gull-wing door.
No, Bernier hasn’t been invaded by stylishly nouveau rustic aliens. The Waldoboro woman is America’s first licensed manufacturer of Archipods, small but versatile structures invented by Chris Sneesby of Yorkshire, England, according to a report this week by award-winning journalist Dominik Lobkowicz of the Lincoln County News.
“It’s just really something different,” Bernier told the LCN. “I’d never seen anything like this before I saw the Archipod.”
Sneesby had received several requests from potential North American customers, but found exporting the spherical buildings to be logistically prohibitive, Lobkowicz wrote. When Bernier came looking for one of the unique pods to use as backyard office, however, she didn’t take “no” for an answer.
Not only did Sneesby agree to help her build America’s first Archipod behind her Waldoboro home, he licensed her to manufacture the ball-shaped buildings for American customers under the business name Podzook.
Bernier told the Lincoln County News the pods make popular office spaces, but can be used as playhouses and client meeting spaces as well. The Archipod website additionally claims the structures can be used as workshops, studios and meditation rooms, or lifted up to become tree houses.
Bernier said a potential client in Hawaii even wants to open a shaved ice shop in one.
The buildings are 9 feet, 6 inches at their widest spot and 8 feet, 3 inches tall. They include lights, three electrical outlets and a data port, the LCN reported. They can be plugged in to a power source like a camper, are insulated and can be equipped with heating and air conditioning.
“I felt like everything else on the market either looked like a shed or a box,” Sneesby said in a video commentary posted by the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office. “Upon making something curved, it would look a lot more a part of the garden landscape. It’s a lot more sculptural than most buildings.
“When I first started developing the structure, I knew that I was doing something quite different, very unusual compared to what else was available on the marketplace,” he continued.
Bernier, an interior designer by trade, uses her own Archipod at 623 West Main St. as an unfurnished showroom of sorts, and the buildings range in price from $32,000 to $40,000, according to her company website.