We see and hear a lot about van conversions out here in North America, but over the ocean in Europe, there are apparently a good number of adventurous souls striking out in tricked-out vehicles too.
One of them is Viki, a recovering architect from Germany, who is travelling around Europe with her dog Cleo and her self-built van conversion that she's named Illa (the pun of "van-illa" is intended). Viki says that she had previously been living a normal life, working long hours in her architecture job, sharing an apartment with friends, and had initially intended to buy a car in order to drive to Norway to find another job. But seeing that a van was about the same price, Viki ended up building out a van home instead, and has since been journeying around for the last six months, visiting fresh new destinations around Europe. We get a look inside via The Indie Projects:
Van-Illa is a Volkswagen T5 with a long wheel base. Viki has remade the interior to resemble a comfy, feminine bedroom that has all her possessions within reach (including quirky favourites like her collection of Disney movies). One of the interesting design elements here is how she has created a kind of L-shaped counter with shelving up front. The little bright red refrigerator sits here, keeping things cool when needed, though Viki says that over the last few months she has almost been eating only plant-based foods, so she hasn't been using it much.
The interior is insulated with 4-centimetre-thick cork board. Viki has used salvaged materials wherever possible: cabinet doors her neighbour almost threw out, and linoleum for her counter. Yet another awesome feature is her adjustable bed. With a lift up on folding supports, it becomes a reclining lounge seat-and-bed that looks out through the the rear van doors.
At the back of the van when the doors are open, Viki can slide out this giant pull-out drawer that functions as her kitchen prep counter and storage. In addition to the small water tank inside, there is another small water tank here.
Viki's van conversion is simple design that features some very intriguing ideas for storage and layout. For now, Viki plans to carry on with her travels, while she can:
I really like my job still and I want to go back to working as an architect, but I felt I was missing out on travel. I've never travelled for longer than a month... so I wanted to change something. I will never be that young again, or that independent. I just couldn't answer the question: 'why not now'? So I left.
Indeed, for many of us, that's a question that needs asking at some point in our lives: if not now, then when? To keep updated on Viki's journey, visit her website.
(Editor's note: We changed the title to address concerns about our choice of wording. As a "recovering architect" herself, Kim wanted to highlight women in the profession – but we understand that "woman architect" didn't send the message as intended. Our apologies.)