What would it mean to give up your house or apartment and commit to a life on the road, moving from place to place as you please? Even if you’re giving up a permanent space, you’d gain freedom–and perhaps a brilliantly designed caravan.
Mobile architecture is more than just tents (or repurposed vans). Over the last decade, many designers have taken on the challenge of creating structures on wheels to accommodate the growing popularity of life on the road.
Phaidon’s new book Mobitecture is a compendium of architecture on the move, with examples ranging from one-man tents to three-wheel bicycle campers and full-on mobile homes. Some of the book highlights designs specifically for homeless individuals or refugees fleeing political conflict or environmental disaster. But others point to the advantages of downsizing amid crowded and expensive cities.
“Mobile housing solutions can offer a heartening alternative for those who refuse to join the ranks of Generation Rent but for whom traditional homeownership is unachievable,” writes Rebecca Roke in the book’s introduction. “This attitude underpins many people’s choice to design, or move into, many of the tiny mobile homes featured in this book.”
Many of the mobile homes featured in the book are modern takes on vintage teardrop campers–and are enough to make you want to stop paying rent and truly hit the road. One, called the Classic American Dream Trailer, combines a camper for two with a rowboat, which nestles atop the trailer and acts like its roof. A teardrop-shaped caravan refurbished by Welsh carpenter Carwyn Lloyd Jones for his family is clad in 4,000 CDs, making it look almost like a disco ball. The $18,950 Happier Camper, designed by Derek Michael May, looks straight out of a movie, but the inside is modular, with the owner deciding the configuration of sinks, tables, and beds.
Others are more high-tech. The Gidget Retro Teardrop camper might look old-school on the outside, but the inside boasts pressurized water, LED lights, and an entertainment system (for about $17,000 to $26,000 in all). Meanwhile the white, angular Mehrzeller was created by Nonstandard design using a parametric equation to create custom interiors that include a kitchen, dining room, living room, sleeping niche, and bathroom.
Mobile dwellings offer an alternative to air travel as well–one that might allow you to connect more with nature than with your cell phone. Take the Wedge, designed by Heimplanet, which isn’t a mobile home but a two-person tent that has entirely inflatable poles, making it incredibly light and easy to inflate. Or the Y-BIO tent designed by Archinoma, which was designed specifically for the beach and has a frame shaped like an eight-pointed star covered by opaque and translucent fabric.
Now, if only there was an easy way to get rid of all the superfluous stuff that won’t fit inside your new trailer.