Make Your Next Holiday a Mobitecture Road Trip

It’s a whole new millenium, and time to admit that retro campers are passé. Rebecca Roke’s new publication Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move, is just the ticket to help you move on – in all senses. This fascinating, remarkable, and measured compendium celebrates mobile architecture in all its forms, from quaint to quirky, and from rustic to deluxe, across a range of functions.

142 Happier Camper
Happier Camper (Derek Michael May, USA, 2014): Honeycomb fibreglass shells make these lightweight trailers maximally strong, whilst the customised interiors can be adapted with sinks and tables to suit the owner’s portable needs.
Picture credit: Wil Sarmienti

Not so much wacky races, as wacky spaces, Rebecca’s work contains over 250 images of notable mobile built projects designed for all terrains, capturing the ingenuity and infinite adaptability of design, and highlighting a union between art and mobility. Arranged in eight chapters – Human, No Wheels, One & Two Wheels, Three Wheels, Four Wheels, 5+ Wheels, Sleds+ and Water – the structures cover diverse ground, from living spaces to saunas, via schools and emergency capsules.

There’s a symphony of serious notes here, too – mobile architecture, as Rebecca deftly highlights, works to solve the increasingly urgent sheltering crises of our generation, from environmental migration, to refugees, to homelessness.

147 Bicycle Teardrop
Bicycle Teardrop Trailer (Matthew Hart Designs, Canada): This portable dwelling is designed to be attached to the back of a bicycle for long-haul trips, and contains a folding table, a fridge, sleeping space, and a small stove.
Picture credit: Phoenix Alexander Simon

Trained as an architect, with over 350 published works on architecture and design and an Editorship at Monument magazine; in short, Rebecca’s a dab hand at insightful design-led analysis. We wanted to hear her thoughts on this niche and overlooked market.

TP: You’ve catalogued structures from the innovative to the outrageous – how did you track them all down?
Avid research! And a keen interest in finding a range of projects, created and located all over the world. I gathered leads from many different sources in order to make the book as richly illustrated as possible.

118 Mobile Kitchen
Mobile Kitchen (Geneva University of Art and Design, Switzerland, 2013): Imagined as an alternative extension to a modernist building, this unit balanced on bicycle wheels provides basic lighting and storage for home chefs.
Picture credit: Emmanuelle Bayart

TP: Mobility is a very specific design requirement – did the owners of these structures tend to share anything else in common?
In general, especially for those living in homes on wheels/water, many of the owners expressed a desire to get outside of usual life demands such as rent/mortgage/monotony of routines, and to find their own more liberating ways to live.

071 Park Bench Bubble
Park Bench Bubble (Thor ter Kulve, UK, 2014): Fashioned from scavenged materials, this private/public nylon bubble provides a unique workspace with protection from the elements and solar-powered USB charger.
Picture credit: Namuun Zimmerman

TP: Following your extensive studies for Mobitecture, is mobile architecture the future?
As an indicator of where people are looking, mobile architecture is part of a larger consideration – and a growing need – for us to think more creatively about the way we can all fit into increasingly dense urban built fabric. I think it will require forward-thinking developers to support this debate and start to offer dwellings that do not follow the usual models we’ve become accustomed to, and that have fairer price points.

Y-BIO (Archinoma, Ukraine, 2009): The lightweight structure of this multi-purpose ‘stellated octahedron’ is swathed in material to partition off different spaces.
Picture credit: Aventoza

TP: If you could take off in a portable one-person home, where would you go?
I’d take a long journey up the west coast of America, along the Pacific Coast Highway: it’s a classic road trip, and experiencing it mobile-style would be a great way to take in the diverse scenery.

TP: First Nanotecture, now Mobitecture – what typological study would you be interested in embarking on next?
The spaces inside! It is fascinating to see how people reconsider the use of interiors in these mobile or tiny places.

167 Bufalino
Bufalino (Cornelius Comanns, Germany, 2010): This fuel-efficient one-man camper houses a bed, fridge, and storage space, alongside cooking and seating areas.
Picture credit: Cornelius Comanns

119 Pop Up Caravan
Pop Up Caravan (Tas-ka, The Netherlands, 2014): Tas-ka used this pop-up retail solution to display their wares at Hague’s Design Quarter festival. Shop windows are made from acrylic inserts, and its mobility is perfect for the short three-day event.
Picture credit: Hipaholic

056 Glastonbury Tent
Glastonbury Solar Concept Tent (Kaleidoscope and Orange, UK, 2009): Solar panels layered across this festival tent, and photovoltaic threads woven into the fabric, collect power for mobile device charging during the day. At night, the tent can be made to glow for easy location.
Picture credit: Kaleidoscope.Design

032 DesertSeal
Desert Seal (Andreas Vogler, Germany, 2004): this inflatable reflective shell houses a slender metre-wide sleeping space to endure hostile heat or extreme arid terrain. Higher, cooler air is funnelled through the structure by solar-powered cells.
Picture credit: Architecture and Vision

148 The XS
The XS (So-Cal Teardrops, USA, 2004): This aluminium retro rendition of the classic teardrop trailer provides sleeping space for two, and a small but fully-equipped kitchen behind a rear-hinged hatch.
Picture credit: Mike Pari, Gabe Pari, Sierra Pari

Mobitecture Jacket 2D

Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move is available from Phaidon.