Given the last decade's technological developments we often claim that mobility is something new, exciting and world-changing, but contemporary mobility takes many forms, and not all are positive or voluntary. When I remember that mobile homes are sometimes the only choice available to lower income people, that migrant labourers, refugees and exiles are forced to leave their homes, and that homeless people have no stable dwelling at all, I cannot help but think that mobility can only bring freedom when it is freely chosen. And yet, it may be these very conditions that compel us to look for - and create - more positive ways of mobile living.
The Portable Architecture Research Unit at the University of Liverpool suggests that:
"Because of the way in which the world is changing, technologically, socially, economically and culturally, it is probable that flexible, transformable, transportable design is as important now as it was when, in past millennia, the nomadic way of life was the dominant one across the planet."
From MIT's Kinetic Design Group to Lancaster University's Centre for Mobilities Research, academics are exploring mobility from a variety of perspectives, and a range of museum exhibitions and conferences like Transportable Environments are also dedicated to investigating portable architecture and mobility.
Projects from Office of Mobile Design, LOT-EK, Sean Godsell,Acconci Studio and Levitt Goodman demonstrate just a few possibilities for socially-aware, adaptive and mobile dwelling, while companies likeFesto test the boundaries of fluidic design and CalEarth uses materials of war, like sandbags and barb-wire, to construct emergency shelters for people in need.
Nomadism may be making a come-back, but it has never been an easy life and I find hope in these and other efforts to ease our journeys.
Great post! Thanks, Anne.
While following some of these links, I couldn't help but think of the nomadic biotech hippies -- the roving biomimetic Burning Man -- in Bruce's novel Distraction.