Portfolio Project Detail

Living in Motion Colin Drumwright, Gray Hipp, and Scott Hefner

Affordable housing is a severe challenge in many communities, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Many residents are transient―following economic opportunity throughout a region. Today’s housing infrastructure should be dynamic to meet these needs.

The Living in Motion concept utilizes a future-proof superstructure that supports freestanding mobile co-living Pods. These units can be moved to respond to daily routines (i.e. kitchen units deployed as a food truck) and long-term market forces like changes in consumer taste or needs.

The superstructure is a mass timber building, with typical 16’-0” floor-to-floor heights and circulation core, making it easily convertible to office space or condominium lofts in a second life. A central atrium connecting all floors provides space for a tower crane during erection in tight urban areas, and doubles as a ‘shaft’ for an open platform elevator to transport the mobile pods.

The building skin is a panelized ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) cushion system. This lightweight, low-cost cladding requires minimal energy for transportation and installation, can be recycled, and has high thermal performance. Our concept for this skin pattern is drawn from origami tessellations, which allows the ETFE to be flat-packed for ease in shipping to its destination. It can be rapidly installed from its folded position to its expanded, structural form on site. The flexibility of both the skin and superstructure make this building especially resistant to seismic damage.

Within this infrastructure, we propose an ever-changing village of mobile co-living Pods. These units are prefabricated, insulated, self-contained, and easily moved by autonomous pallet-jack robots. Pod types include bedrooms, offices, kitchens, and bathroom variations―endlessly configurable to create the optimal cluster. To fully integrate the system, large doors connect the private units to open shared spaces. Doors can be closed as private bedrooms at night. Kitchens and restrooms are shared between tenants, while dispersed lounge space provides opportunity for serendipitous community. Stocked lending libraries contain cleaning and leisure activity items to alleviate storage needs. Building amenities such as a marketplace on the ground floor, event terrace, and Pod repair shop promote tenant entrepreneurship, while daycare and worker cooperative functions offer communal support for working families.

Using this concept, Pod villages can also be a successful solution for local transient and transitional housing needs. Mobile Pod communities may create housing efficiency in underutilized parts of the city by:
● Using vacant lots as temporary housing communities before redevelopment occurs, such as existing warehouses, commercial buildings, or decommissioned parking decks.
● Deploying to seasonal farms for migrant workers.
● Creating communities underneath existing large infrastructure, such as highway overpass bridges.
● Utilizing vacant space in commercial office parking decks at night. Mobile Pods can migrate each day from storage off-site to center city to house workers or homeless from 8pm-6am, while allowing for full use of the parking deck by tenants during the daytime.

Living in Motion portrays a high-tech future for efficient, communal living, which is sustainable and affordable at its core. Immovable infrastructure components of this project are designed for second and third-lives, while all other aspects of this community―mobile and changeable―respond nimbly to the city’s greatest challenges.