30 Different Ways to Put A Roof Over Your Head In These Tents Times

5. Trailers

Notwithstanding the disaster that was the FEMA trailer after Katrina, trailers have a role to play as people are forced to become more mobile, following work. There is also an existing infrastructure to deal with them with trailer parks across the nation, so they can be plumbed and plugged in without reinventing the infrastructure or dealing with land tenure issues. A properly designed and built trailer can be a viable solution for people on the move. Inventors have been working on them for years:

Trailers are fascinating models of efficient design, showing how one can live in small spaces, often demonstrating the efficiencies and promise of mass production. The trailer park is also an interesting model of tenure, enabling people to own their units but rent their land, reducing the price of entry. Both present real opportunities. 1939: The Trailer Grows Up
Sometimes they had wacky ideas:

"For the motoring tourist who wants to carry his home along but wants no bulky trailer blocking his rear vision from the driver’s seat, a folding trailer has been developed. When collapsed for driving, it is streamlined to a point at the rear and is below the rear window of the car. Yet when open it is spacious enough for comfortable living quarters, accommodating a double bed and two single beds, stove, sink, refrigerator, water tank, drawers and cabinets. It is six feet two inches wide and thirteen feet four inches long." Airstream meets PacMan in Folding Trailer Design
Sometimes they look interesting but don't work out:

It may well be that towing a trailer behind a station wagon is not the most fuel efficient way to travel, but squeezing all the air out of it and making it fold up as small as possible certainly is going to help. While pop-up trailers have been around forever, Dutch designer Niels Caris has designed a very clever pop-out unit that expands to many times its folded size, in a manner not dissimilar to one we have shown from 1936. Foldoub Trailer Travels Small, Lives Large

We will admit to being partial to Airstream's silver-sleek aluminum style, so imagine our excitement to learn that the free hand given to designers at Nissan Design America (NDA) has resulted in minimalist model which is certain to be the rage in Dutch touring clubs, joining successful European mini-models such as the Eriba Puck, or the Tabbart T@b (see pics over the fold). As reported in Airstream's newsletter, the Base Camp "was the brainchild of NDA aces Bryan Thompson and Steve Moneypenny, who envisioned a travel vehicle that was a springboard for outdoor adventures rather than a living room on wheels." Nissan Airstream BaseCamp
Other Trailers:
PREFAB MOBILE FRIDAY: Airstream Bambi Trailer

6. Motor Homes


In some ways they are wonderful: you get to walk around inside while it is moving so they are a lot easier to travel in that a car pulling a trailer, but they are more expensive and less flexible when you want to get around town. Some people have tried to resolve this problem:

Andrew Maynard knows prefab, and that the next step is adding mobility to the mix. Buro North and Andrew Maynard have whipped up this:

"BOB is a hybrid home of the future, a mobile living tool for tomorrows generation of nomadic wanderers. Somewhere between a tent, a house and a Winnebago, BOB explores the relationship between the basic human requirements of travel and shelter." BOB Gets Around: Andrew Maynard's Mobile Home
They don't have to be big; Toyota came up with this 35 years ago:

With more and more Americans having to sleep in their cars, it is too bad that Toyota never put this into production. 1973: Toyota Station Wagon Turns into RV
Some are fantasies.

"The GMC PAD, an urban loft with mobility, a concept for living in the ever-changing cultural landscape of Southern California or, quite simply, a modern alternative for those priced out of Southern California’s escalating housing market. It’s a home ownership concept that enables cultural & geographic freedom for the modern city dweller. It’s a concept that represents a reasoned solution to the problems of urban sprawl, development, and it’s damaging effects on the region’s environment." GMC PAD- The Mobile Loft

Fixed offices are so 20th century when TreeHuggers have to be everywhere at once. That is why we so happy about the new Nissan NV200, which combines storage and usable interior space by pulling the interior out like a drawer when stopped, so that it is efficient and small while travelling, but gets good access to tools and great interior space when stopped. Instead of having to go back to the office to do our post, we can do it right on site, saving lots of time and fuel. Here it is set up for one of our famous underwater shoots, with all the camera and scuba gear at the ready. Nissan's New Mobile Office Just Perfect for TreeHuggers
Others build monster trucks that demonstrate the flaws- big, expensive and sucking fuel.

Living is.be combines the best of an RV (easily mobile) with the efficiency of a popup camper (folds down for less wind resistance) and the comfort of a multistorey townhouse. It even has a hot-tub sized bath on the upper level.

it appears to be built with an aluminum frame, while the pop-up is made from an insulated, quilted fabric much like a duvet. The rigid roof hinges up to create lots of space and includes two big walk-out sized velux-type skylights. Living Is .Be Whatever That Means

There is great appeal to the idea living in efficient small spaces and to not being tied down to real estate; that is why we like the minihome or the portabach or container housing. But just as there is as Mercedes can make a Smart Car and a Maybach, there can be a range in mobile living from the light and green to the extreme. This may well be the Hummer of mobile living, the Unicat. Some people thought it was a garbage truck, but pop up the roof and you are in another world.


Mobile Living: The Unicat

7. Mobile Homes


Mobile homes are a type of prefab that is built in a factory on a chassis, but rarely moved once they find their place. There is an existing infrastructure for supporting them, and developers are beginning to build high-end green trailer parks, changing the image of the industry. They offer a great opportunity to let people own housing without having to have the money to buy land. They have been maligned but are in fact a real opportunity.

One response to the Katrina crisis is the Katrina Cottage, a 300 square foot house designed for displaced residents. Most temporary housing looks, well, temporary- it is unusual that such concern for quality of life is expressed in a solution. Designed in a charette led by Andres Duany, a leader of the New Urbanism movement, it has a lot of things going for it, including its appearance (we tend to modern but it is certainly better than a trailer) its size (a great place to start, but they owe credit to Avi Friedman for use of the term Grow House) and its price, which is comparable to a typical FEMA trailer. Marnianne Cusato wants to "provide authentic traditional designs for affordable housing. Design makes a difference." Katrina Cottage: The New Urbanist Response

It looks more like a landing craft that just hit the beach, but in fact it is a mobile artists studio that was built in 2003 by Kortknie Stuhlmacher Architecten of Rotterdam in collaboration with artists BikvanderPol, as part of a municipal art program in Utrecht. House No19: Mobile Studio

A mobile home that’s stylish? Mais oui! Strict UK planning laws wouldn’t allow Tim Pyne to build a house on his estuary land in Essex. He was permitted, however, a trailer that could be delivered to the site and removed again later. Unimpressed with the options currently on the market (and who could blame him?), he and Michael Howe of mae architects designed m-house (pronounced “mouse”). At 1000 square feet, m-house is over twice the size of the Loftcube... M-house: The Trailer for the Tasteful

TreeHugger loves modern prefab- It should make good green design affordable and accessible. It often does not live up to this promise- many are built far away as second homes, founded on concrete and tethered to the grid like any other house. Thats why we continue to be so excited about the Sustain MiniHome- conceptually a travel trailer, it can go anywhere, including parks all over North America. Sustain MiniHome: Sustainable Prefab Now.

Other Mobile Homes of Note:

AN UNTRASHY TRAILER
Breckenridge Perfect Cottage

More on Portable Architecture


Jennifer Siegel nails it again, with her term "new nomadism", describing the trend towards mobile, lightweight, eco-friendly lifestyles. We're working and living in a very different way, and yet our buildings have remained static, heavy structures. Our cars are smart, our clothing is smart, our materials are smart and our buildings are still these heavy boxes." Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Portable Architecture

And on our heroes of Instant Emergency Architecture:


Winners in Sportables Design Competition Announced
Open Architecture Challenge: And The Winners Are...
Lulan Artisans Redefines Sustainability
Burma Update from Architecture for Humanity
AFH UK to Build FareShare's Training Centre in London
Architecture for Humanity: Kate Stohr Speaks
Architecture For Humanity and the California Fires
Design Steps Up in Disaster's Wake

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