Architecture on wheels - ISPLORA
Photo - by gentle courtesy of Work & Co

Architecture on wheels


From the Dymaxion Car to the Bauhaus replica on wheels to GUIDO, the self-driving bar designed by Carlo Ratti.

It was 1933 when architect-inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller presented his futuristic prototype of a car: the Dymaxion Car. The name "Dymaxion" was given by Fuller to several projects, from the car to the prefabricated "Dymaxion House", to emphasize the idea of a wider project seeking to improve living conditions: the "Dymaxion philosophy". The name "Dymaxion" is actually a portmanteau word formed by combining three parts: DY (dynamic), MAX (maximum) e ION (tension). The Dymaxion Car represented a radical experiment for its time, just consider that the Fiat 508 Balilla was presented the year before, in 1932. The car designed by Bucky Fuller was something different, taking inspiration from airplanes in terms of aerodynamics and shapes, it could reach an incredible speed for its time and most of all it was three-wheeled. History however did not prove the American designer and his futuristic project right and all we have left is the prototype.

Today, almost 100 years after the Dymaxion, we are once again living in a period rich in ideas for innovative vehicles, often designed by world-renowned architects or great brands.

Even more emblematic is the choice of the Berlin collective Savvy Contemporary, which to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus with the project SPINNING TRIANGLES goes beyond a simple “museological” celebration and attempts to test the contemporary legacy of the modern school’s teaching.

The project is a small 15sqm moving building which recalls the iconic image of Walter Gropius’s school, built in 1919 to embody the principles and values of the modern lesson. The gridded glass walls are the same, as well as the iconic lettering. Inside, instead of the workshop, is an apartment-like space, used for exhibitions and workshops, along with a reading room lined with books about the history and heritage of the Bauhaus movement.

Savvy Contemporary presents a “Wohnmaschine”, a “residential machine”, which aims at revealing and discussing global topics such as injustice and violence rethinking the role of design within social and political realities.

A different idea is the one presented by Bmw and The North Face for the trailer of the future. The innovation, aside from its design which recalls the small teardrop-shaped trailers created in the ’30s, lies in the materials used. In particular, the exterior is covered in Futurelight, a new fabric with holes of nanometric size which allow ventilation, guaranteeing air permeability, while remaining waterproof, providing protection from the elements. The project, developed at the Bmw design center (Designworks), is based on the idea of having a camper trailer which can fit one or two people and can be towed even by small cars, also off-road.

Feature which becomes crucial in the “Nova pod”, an idea presented by Work & Co for a co-working office on wheels. In this case, the idea is to be able to move the office – a trailer – to any place, also thanks to the solar panels which power the kitchen and all the work appliances. While the interior is floral, material, on the outside are two large stackable glass windows on both sides, allowing the shell to open up letting the environment in.

Photo - by gentle courtesy of Work & Co
Photo - by gentle courtesy of Work & Co

Photo - by gentle courtesy of Work & Co
Photo - by gentle courtesy of Work & Co

Innovation is also at the heart of GUIDO, the project by Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) and Makr Shakr, the world’s leading producer of robotic bartenders

GUIDO is the first self-driving bar in the world and is based on driverless technology combined with robotics to serve any drink combination in just a few seconds. Research and innovation have always been the focus of the work carried out by Carlo Ratti, his firm and the MIT Senseable City Lab, directed by the Italian architect at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). GUIDO is more than an experiment which combines new technologies, the project is also a way of imagining new social opportunities in the metropolis. In Ratti’s words: “Right now, in many cities, small central areas are full of life while only a few steps away more peripheral areas are empty and lifeless, and sometimes unsafe. GUIDO offers an alternative, imagining that different parts of the city can be activated by the opportunity to enjoy one’s leisure time on their streets.“

CRA’s project not only represents a further step towards an ever-growing autonomy in mobility, but embodies perfectly the city-on-demand paradigm. This way architects go back to thinking about movement, imagining alternatives, designing innovative vehicles which look like buildings, creating mobile setups and traveling spaces for work and leisure.


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