Page D2.1 . 08 January 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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OMD's Portable Architecture

by Michael Cockram

"Nearly every American house I've lived in has long ago been demolished to make room for some other building. There is a delicious (though painful) paradox here: Americans long for stability, but all they get is stationary impermanence. No wonder then many of us long to become permanent nomads, snails with houses on our backs, Touareg tribesmen, and Gypsies."
— Poet Andrei Codrescu, from his introduction to Mobile: The Art of Portable Architecture by Jennifer Siegal

Architecture schools teach statics — the branch of structural analysis based on the principle that buildings should be stationary and motionless. Civilization, too, teaches "statics" when it halts nomadic cultures, asserts the idea of living in one place, and attempts to freeze buildings in place and in time. In a counterpoint to these lessons, Jennifer Siegal's Office of Mobile Design (OMD) challenges current models with designs that are flexible and mobile and that reach toward a different way of thinking about how we live.

Since 1998, OMD has been looking at ways to rethink standard modes of mobile living, focusing especially on the much maligned "mobile home." Siegal's dream is to reinvent a mobile house, retaining the concepts of affordability and flexibility but shaking up the bland design notions that now dominate the genre.   >>>

 

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Elements of the "portable house," by Jennifer Siegal's Office of Mobile Design, expand into the landscape.
Image: Office of Mobile Design

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The sustainable strategies and materials of the portable house.
Image: Office of Mobile Design

 

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