OMD's Portable Architecture
Like the iMobile in its approach to community outreach, the Ecolab is an ecology classroom on wheels. It was commissioned by the nonprofit Hollywood Beautification Team to promote ecological approaches to improving the region's environment.
In a design/ build studio based in one of Woodbury's parking lots, students reworked a donated cargo trailer. Materials were castoffs from old movie sets. Working with this limited palette, Siegal's students came up with intriguing approaches in manipulating and weaving common materials into new applications. The Ecolab contains classroom and demonstration spaces for artists and teachers. It now travels throughout Los Angeles County engaging schoolchildren in the importance of ecological awareness.
The nonprofit Venice Community Housing Corporation worked with Siegal and her students to produce the "Portable Construction Training Center." They converted a 14- by 65-foot (4.3- by 19.8-meter) trailer home into a mobile workshop to train apprentices in four basic construction trades: plumbing, electrical, painting, and carpentry. Literally exploding the box, the trailer opens up and extends a circulation spine along the outside edge where instructors can observe trainees as they work.
The Mobile Entrepreneur
Another application of mobility that OMD addresses is that of the entrepreneur. Siegal's grandfather made his living at one time selling frankfurters from a mobile cart on Coney Island in New York. While studying at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, she picked up this idea and got a cart of her own to help pay the bills.
Her firm has designed several versions of a portable kiosk based on an idea for a bicycle repair stand that folds up to be easily towed to its next destination. Other variations serve as a Häagan-Dazs ice cream stand and a bookstore. The kiosk design is part of the Triennial Exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and will display architectural models and drawings. A titanium frame serves as an armature for the scrim/ fabric-clad wings which unfold to reveal the displays inside.
In her book, Mobile: the Art of Portable Architecture, Siegal catalogs much of her own work as well as a range of approaches to mobile architecture — from inflatable warehouses to the phantasmagoric sets used by touring rock bands such as the Rolling Stones and U2.
She points to the manifesto Citta Nuova by the Italian futurist Sant'Elia as a principal source of inspiration: "We no longer believe in the monumental, the heavy and static, and have enriched our sensibilities with a taste for lightness, transience, and practicality." Somewhere between these lofty ideas and her grandfather's Coney Island hot dog stand is the fulcrum of her work — affordable flexible, mobile, and responsive to the environment and exploring new ideas in design.