Humanity’s first architectural journey thousands of years ago wasn’t a high rise skyscraper or magnificent ornate structures. The first artificial structure ever was movable, allowing them to build, dismantle, and rebuild them whilst moving from one place to another as the seasons and their needs changed.

This form of mobile architecture, despite existing for centuries, still influences designs in many aspects such as structures for events and exhibitions, the aftermath of natural disasters, and in extreme habitats such as cold or inaccessible environments. Mobile architecture not only embraces the adventure behind but also the minimal way of simple living.

 Here are some of the compact and best examples of mobile architecture present in our world;

1. Mobile Vaccination Point

Designed By: Waugh Thistleton Architects

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has created a surge in the medical field for off-site solutions for remote areas. This design considers various factors such as social distancing, privacy, and auxiliary, temporary space for treatments. In addition, a product that can be manufactured, installed and transported in a brief period. After discussing with various experts, a safe and effective design solution has been finalized, which can be used in parking lots and public spaces with NHS staff who can vaccinate the population by working on shifts.

Shipping containers are the perfect and efficient solution for this purpose as they are reused which possess robust structure and have good durability. The other major factor is it can be transported easily from one point to another and possess a linear plan which makes social distancing coherent. This solution can be adopted globally for controlling the pandemic.

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MOBILE VACCINATION POINT ©WAUGH THISTLETON ARCHITECTS
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MOBILE VACCINATION POINT ©WAUGH THISTLETON ARCHITECTS

2. Ecocapsule

 Designed By: Nice Architects

The Eco capsule is designed by Nice Architects, a firm based in Slovakia. It is designed to accommodate two users. The interior space of the capsule is designed in a futuristic approach which gives a feeling of warmth at the same time. The capsule dimensions are 4.5 meters in length, 2.2 meters in width, and 2.5 meters in height which weighs about 1.7 metric tons on the whole.

This capsule is an egg-shaped structure that uses power from wind and solar energy. It is designed to produce more energy than it consumes as long as the exterior temperature remains between -16 °C and 40 °C. The advantage of the egg shape is to minimize the surface area to volume ratio. The walls are insulated with two layers of fibreglass with polyurethane foam sandwiched in between. The battery present in the capsule can hold energy up to four days of electrical charge. It also diverts some of the power to supplement the water heater present inside. The electricity and water levels are monitored regularly by a central computer present in the unit.

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ECOCAPSULE ©NICE ARCHITECTS
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ECOCAPSULE ©NICE ARCHITECTS
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ECOCAPSULE ©NICE ARCHITECTS
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ECOCAPSULE ©NICE ARCHITECTS
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ECOCAPSULE ©NICE ARCHITECTS

3. Bauhaus Bus

Designed By: Architect Van Bo Le- Mentzel

The Bauhaus historic workshop building particularly inspired this bus in Dessau-a building conceived by Walter Gropius and built in 1919 to embody its core principles and values, to celebrate its 100th anniversary. This miniature version of the building has characteristic elements such as stark white volumes to clean lines, enormous windows, and a highlighting vertical Bauhaus signage. The 15 square meters mobile building’s primary function is to convey the history of Bauhaus through the library compiled of books along with an exhibition and workshop space. This bus is travelled from Dessau, Kinshasa, Berlin, and Hong Kong.

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BAUHAUS BUS ©CC-BY SA TINYHOUSE UNIVERSITY
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BAUHAUS BUS ©CC-BY SA TINYHOUSE UNIVERSITY
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BAUHAUS BUS ©CC-BY SA TINYHOUSE UNIVERSITY

4. Prefabricated Cabin

Designed By: Artist Bobby Niven And Architect Iain Macleod

This pre-fabricated cabin is called Artist Bothy, which means shelter in the Scottish language. The cabin that costs 39,000 euros is designed to transport easily wherever needed by placing it in a lorry. It’s made up of sustainable materials. The main functions of the cabin are planned to serve artists who want to set up a studio in isolated locations. The area of the cabin is 12.25 square meters which measure 5.5 x 3 meters on the whole. A layer of russet Corten steel and Scottish larch is enveloped around a core timber structure acting as insulated walls of 100mm thickness. A patio neatly wraps around a corner in the entry. Surface drainage waters and freshwater pipes are neatly concealed to give visual comfort to the users. Each cabin can be installed on-site in a day. 

This is to create a flexible space that can be connected to nature in any kind of environment and serve its purpose in an urban context as well, designed for two extremities.

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PREFABRICATED CABIN ©JOHNNY BARRINGTON PHOTOGRAPHY
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PREFABRICATED CABIN ©JOHNNY BARRINGTON PHOTOGRAPHY
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PREFABRICATED CABIN ©JOHNNY BARRINGTON PHOTOGRAPHY

5. Nomadic Water Bed

Designed By: Architect Daniel Durnin

This is a visionary project done by RCA graduates displayed at London Design Fest 2015. Its core purpose was to replace busy urban landscapes amidst natural waterbodies. This water bed acts as an escape from a stressful life and helps in reconnecting with the city’s existing nature and wildlife as well.

The concept of this particular project is derived from the designer’s own experience of living in a narrowboat to design and build this wooden water bed for real. This structure is installed with pulldown drapes to enable privacy when required, which also offers a great panoramic view of the surrounding environment with more opening. This can also be transported easily by towing it with two-wheelers.

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NOMADIC WATER BED ©DANIEL DURNIN
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NOMADIC WATER BED ©DANIEL DURNIN
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NOMADIC WATER BED ©DANIEL DURNIN

6. Lumishell

Designed By: French Architect And Civil Engineer Christophe Benichou  

The Lumishell project is an ideal example of mobile architecture which gives the comfort of a home in all ways provided with a moment of immersing yourself in nature and exotic environments. This shell is a prefabricated curved structure that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor habitat through its form and also by using its sub-product Lumicene – a reversible window. The presence of this window can convert any indoor room into a semi-outdoor space provided with great ventilation and views.

The 40 square-meter shell holds all the needs of comfort with a protective aluminium skin. The shell comprises of living room, bedroom, kitchen and also bathroom. The living room and bedroom are placed in two corners installed with a Lumicene-curved glass sliding door that converts the room into an outdoor space. The form of the shell is optimized for natural cross ventilation. The installation of Lumishell takes as little as four days and can be dismantled easily. 

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LUMISHELL ©CHRISTOPHE BENICHOU
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LUMISHELL ©CHRISTOPHE BENICHOU
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LUMISHELL ©CHRISTOPHE BENICHOU

7. Tipton-the Travel Machine

Designed By: Tipoon

Tipton is one best epitome for travel campers. This is a modular product designed by French-start-up Tipoon that alters the size based on the needs of the user. This product is known as the travel machine, which can be switched into three different size models in one single button press. It can change into three different modes such as closed, half-opened, and fully opened within seconds. The size of the Tipton travel machine varies from 5.5 feet to 10.5 feet in height, 13.5 feet to 14.8 feet in length, and 5.5 feet to 10.5 feet in width based on the modes selected.

This pod is designed to be a standalone unit that is crafted with an insulated poly-composite mono block coated with a galvanized sub-frame. The interior configurations can be changed based on the user requirements such as single-sleeper, two-bed sleeper, and king-sleeper bed. The usage of compact and storable furniture such as foldable dining sets, benches, and storage units that can be stored under a fixed bed area is an advantage. The usage of small space with smart solutions makes this travel machine more unique and user-friendly.

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TIPOON-THE TRAVEL MACHINE ©TIPOON
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TIPOON-THE TRAVEL MACHINE ©TIPOON
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TIPOON-THE TRAVEL MACHINE ©TIPOON

8. Land-ark

Designed By: Brian And Joni Buzarde 

Colorado-based start-up Land Ark designed its first mobile home called Drake. This is designed by a couple Brian and Joni in 2016. Brian studied architecture and Joni studied management and marketing, their mutual interest in architecture, travel, and home design resulted in this unique and smart solution of campers. The featuring elements of drake are angled walls, black metal cladding and white-pine washed interiors shade which makes the interior space warm and cosy.

The total area of the drake camper is 33 square meters and weighs approximately 8000 kilograms. The camper is 9 meters long and 2.6 meters wide with a height of 4 meters. The design has strongly followed the principle of “Form follows Function” as the couple spent enough years experimenting on all the factors needed for designing drake with a camper similar to drake which is smaller to it comparatively. The exterior skin of the camper is cladded with black corrugated metal in which the windows are placed in different sizes with adequate insulations for varied climatic conditions. 

The flooring is done with waterproof vinyl which resembles a wooden plank. Joni believes psychological and emotional response plays a vital role while living in such a small space, so even subtle shades and materials gives a huge impact on the visuals.

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LAND ARK ©JEREMY GUDAC PHOTOGRAPHY
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LAND ARK ©JEREMY GUDAC PHOTOGRAPHY
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LAND ARK ©JEREMY GUDAC PHOTOGRAPHY
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LAND ARK ©JEREMY GUDAC PHOTOGRAPHY
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LAND ARK ©JEREMY GUDAC PHOTOGRAPHY
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LAND ARK ©JEREMY GUDAC PHOTOGRAPHY

9. Mobile Lingerie Shop

Designed By: Design Studios Saw And Moa

This unique and bold design of a nomadic fitting room of women lingerie for an online retail shop called True&co is the first of its kind. It’s the first physical shop for the retailer whose main platform was based on online purchases. The moving shop creates a highly flexible, transformable, and comfortable platform, providing the ability to travel to different locations. The project brief was quite complex, as the client needed the shop to be welcoming and at the same time offering privacy to the customers.

The trailer which holds this shop measures 7 meters in length by 2.5 meters in width. The enclosure is cladded with materials like steel, glass, and wood, providing a contemporary and modernist look. The unit contains four fitting rooms, a seating area, and a checkout counter. The display unit of the products are 

displayed on boxed trays which are integrated into a millwork shelving unit.

One side of the exterior consists of folding doors and steps which pave the way inside the store. Each element operates independently, which allows the shop to self-adapt itself irrespective of factors such as different climate, locations, and needs. On the other side, the wall consists of a continuous wall made of glass emblazoning the name of the retailer shop. Behind the glass are the opaque panels that open and close when required, permitting natural light and privacy at the same time when needed.

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MOBILE LINGERIE SHOP ©BRUCE DAMONTE PHOTOGRAPHY
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MOBILE LINGERIE SHOP ©BRUCE DAMONTE PHOTOGRAPHY
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MOBILE LINGERIE SHOP ©BRUCE DAMONTE PHOTOGRAPHY

10. Pinecone Gazebo

Designed By: Atelier Sad 

The Pinecone gazebo is a nature-inspired design is a must-have for children as well as adults irrespective of any age. The structure consists of 109 waterproof plywood scales that are treated with resistant glaze. They are interconnected by joints that are galvanized to create a self-supporting sustainable structure. The gazebo is a more than one-dimensional design as it can serve all age groups which work in children’s playgrounds as well as a meditation space. Within a day, the pinecone can be fabricated in any space. Each scale of the pinecone is fabricated and spaced in such a way that it makes the structure well ventilated, providing a good microclimate irrespective of the usage.

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PINECONE GAZEBO ©MMCITE STREET FURNITURES
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PINECONE GAZEBO ©MMCITE STREET FURNITURES
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PINECONE GAZEBO ©MMCITE STREET FURNITURES
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PINECONE GAZEBO ©MMCITE STREET FURNITURES
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PINECONE GAZEBO ©MMCITE STREET FURNITURES
Author

Rose Christina Jeyaseelan,24-year-old architect, also a sustainability aficionado. Architecture for her is a journey through darkness searching for light. Personally, she loves to travel, sketch and explore the unexplored and she has a huge obsession over northern lights. Her interest in books have led the way to develop passion for writing as well. Here in RTF, she wishes to curate her perspective and chasmic thoughts on architecture and design.

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