To get to Jaimie Mantzel’s home you’ll need your hiking shoes. He lives deep in the New England wilderness, beyond a grassy field, past a concrete tunnel, a pond and deep forest. Near the end of the journey, you hang on to a rope to hoist yourself up a steep hill. And there it is: a colony of hand-built structures clustered around a four-story-high geodesic dome in the middle of a verdant clearing — a cross between Tolkien’s Middle-earth and a science fiction robot fantasy.
There’s a lumber mill — also built from scratch — that Mantzel uses to make his own wooden planks from the trees that dot the landscape, a smaller geodesic dome that houses a spring for water, and a large workshop called the “Banana Building.” That’s where Mantzel keeps his giant six-legged robot.
“I’m fully aware that I’m a robot-building nerd, hippie, whatever,” he says, laughing. “But you know, if I’m going to be a nerd, I may as well be a cool one. Or do my best.”