News Home & Design Couple Goes on Architectural Road Trip in DIY Van Conversion This couple designed and built their own van conversion in order to travel and to learn about sustainable building techniques. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published January 13, 2021 04:45PM EST Tiny House Expedition Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices One of the greatest advantages of tiny homes on wheels is that they can be moved from place to place. Granted, typical tiny homes aren't meant to moved that often – they are still pretty hefty and require some kind of truck (or similarly powerful vehicle) to tow them to their destination. However, there's one subset of the tiny house movement that's even more mobile than the standard tiny house: yes, we are talking about the vehicle conversion. Whether that's a van, bus, or even a stealthy Prius, such ultra-tiny homes on wheels can be easily adapted to their users' needs, serving as comfy little havens for people looking to travel off the beaten path – and on their own terms. Camille and William of ProjetCapA is one such nomadic couple. Hailing from France, the architect and engineer embarked on a year-long tour of North and South America, living comfortably out of their self-built van conversion. Their mission was a kind of "architectural road trip," with the aim to visit various eco-friendly architecture projects and intentional communities, studying different sustainable building techniques along the way. We get to see some of their interesting space-saving design ideas via this tour (filmed pre-pandemic) from the folks over at Tiny House Expedition: Camille and William's camper van is based on a T4 Volkswagen transporter van that they renovated back in France, prior to their trip. After finishing their build-out, the couple shipped it to Montreal, Canada, and began their cross-country tour there, before finishing their tour in Argentina and shipping the van back home. Tiny House Expedition The van's small but comfortable interior includes plenty of multifunctional, transformer furniture that helps to not only maximize space, but also gives the couple flexibility when it comes to doing the daily tasks of life: cooking, sleeping, or winding down and watching films and so on. Tiny House Expedition Camille explains how they came up with the interior layout of the van: "We bought the van one year before departure. We wanted to design the interior by ourselves and also build it. We designed it to fit to our needs, since we are going to spend a lot of time inside, even if the outside is our garden. So we wanted to be able to go all around the inside, from the inside, so we kept the area in the center free." To achieve this, the couple built a series of full-height wooden cabinets to one side, and another set of storage cubbies and a sofa-bed platform on the other side, but at a lower height. This layout allows for a central aisle to span from one end of the van to the other. Tiny House Expedition The central zone of the van includes a kitchen, pantry, and cabinet for the cooler. Tiny House Expedition There is a space for sitting and an area where a removable RV-style table top can be attached. Tiny House Expedition All the two have to do is turn around the van's seats to face each other, and voilà, they now have a mini-dining area. Tiny House Expedition What's also interesting is the table top itself: it is hinged and can be unfolded to form a longer extension that can be inserted at the end of the bed platform, creating enough space for a bench, or an even larger, 6-foot-long bed. Tiny House Expedition One of the best features of the van is its pop-up top, which allows the couple to have more head room, natural light and ventilation when needed, merely by pushing up on the ceiling, and unzipping the windows. This extra overhead platform can also serve as a place for guests to sleep on. Tiny House Expedition Looking more closely at the sofa-bed platform, the couple demonstrates that it can transform in various ways: it can be used as a sofa by adjusting the custom-tailored cushions; the smaller cushion can be for the bench configuration. Tiny House Expedition When the platform is fully extended, it can function as a bed, after taking out the pillows from the hidden side cabinet. Tiny House Expedition At the rear of the van, the doors swing open to reveal hand-sewn pockets that can store all manner of miscellaneous knick-knacks. With not much space to begin with, it was imperative that every inch be used, even if it's in the doors. All in all, the couple's van is well-designed, effectively maximizing a compact space to serve a variety of functions. Tiny House Expedition Having evolved over many decades since the invention of the automobile, the "van life" movement isn't anything new. But make no mistake – the flexibility and financial freedom that comes with a more minimalist lifestyle is indeed gaining traction with a growing number of people, who are choosing to have amazing life experiences with less "stuff" weighing them down. To see more of Camille and William's fascinating travels from Arcosanti to eco-hamlets of the Saguenay, visit ProjetCapA.