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Portable Architecture You Can Roll, Wear, Tow, or Float

A sauna on skis and 11 other dwellings made to move.

The Ecocapsule can accommodate two people and runs on solar and wind power. (Nice Architects, Slovakia, 2008)
The Ecocapsule can accommodate two people and runs on solar and wind power. (Nice Architects, Slovakia, 2008) Tomas Manina/www.tomasmanina.wz.cz

Moveable houses, portable saunas, and wearable tents are the subjects—among some 250—of the new book Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move, by Rebecca Roke. It’s both a paean to traveling light and an eye-catching look at all the ways a dwelling can move. The designs range from the functional to the outlandish, and cover an array of forms of transport, from tugboats to tractors.

Some of the examples are ideal for recreation, such as the compact-cute, California-made Golden Gate 2 camper, with a rounded timber frame, portholes, and a spot for a surfboard. For lovers of winter sports, the Nomad Sauna, which was built on a lake in Norway, includes an internal ice-hole for intensely refreshing breaks from the heat.

It is not all fun and games—others are designed for important, practical use. It can also be used to provide shelter during a crisis, or for protection in extreme weather. The Rapid Deployment Module is a temporary dwelling that can be assembled in an hour to provide shelter during a crisis or disaster, while the DesertSeal is an inflatable, lightweight tent that can protect inhabitants from extreme heat.

For portable architecture to actually move, it needs somehow to be stowed, carried, pushed, pulled, or towed, and this is the way that some of the portable shelters featured in the book get really get inventive. The Walking Shelter is like a tent on two legs (yours), and folds up neatly into the heel of high-top sneaker. Many of the designs are pedal-powered or designed to be towed in a more traditional manner. Some of those can be quite luxurious, such as the four-wheeled Collingwood Shepherd Hut wagon, with a shingled exterior and a cozy wood-burning stove.

And there are some creations that just defy categorization. The aptly named Portaledge, for example, is a small tent that rock climbers can affix to a rock face and sleep in (safely)—while dangling high above the earth. The experimental Camper Kart, created by artist Kevin Cyr, turns a shopping cart into a mini-home with a roof, sleeping desk and storage—all of which can be folded right back into the cart. It can also be considered an artistic statement on the perceived association between shopping carts and the homeless.

Have a look at some of these unique, useful, and sometimes thought-provoking shelters, and imagine what life on the move might look like. Just in case you have to jam.

The Nomad Sauna, built on a lake in Norway, is transported on skis and comes with an internal ice hole for (quick) plunges into the freezing water below. (Marco Casagrande, Norway, 2012).
The Nomad Sauna, built on a lake in Norway, is transported on skis and comes with an internal ice hole for (quick) plunges into the freezing water below. (Marco Casagrande, Norway, 2012). Casagrande & Bjørnådal
The Zendome allows campers to drift along the water in style. (Zenvision, Germany, 2007).
The Zendome allows campers to drift along the water in style. (Zenvision, Germany, 2007). © Gordian Overschmidt/zendome.com
The hand-built Golden Gate 2, complete with portholes, a large windscreen, and space for a bed—and surfboard. (Jay Nelson, USA, 2014).
The hand-built Golden Gate 2, complete with portholes, a large windscreen, and space for a bed—and surfboard. (Jay Nelson, USA, 2014). Dylan Gordan
The egg-shaped Jello Pavilion, is made from plastic sheeting and inflated with a high-powered fan. (Cornell University, USA, 2015).
The egg-shaped Jello Pavilion, is made from plastic sheeting and inflated with a high-powered fan. (Cornell University, USA, 2015). Inaqui Carnicero
The interior of the fifteen-foot, hand-made Collingwood Shepherd Hut wagon includes bunk beds and a wood-burning stove. (Güte, Canada, 2015)
The interior of the fifteen-foot, hand-made Collingwood Shepherd Hut wagon includes bunk beds and a wood-burning stove. (Güte, Canada, 2015) Dylan Euteneier
Camper Kart, Kevin Cyr, USA, 2009.
Camper Kart, Kevin Cyr, USA, 2009. Kevin Cyr
This cargo bike, called the 8rad2 Solar, has eight wheels, two drivers and can be used to transport cargo or as a mobile home. (Nico Jungel, Germany, 2015).
This cargo bike, called the 8rad2 Solar, has eight wheels, two drivers and can be used to transport cargo or as a mobile home. (Nico Jungel, Germany, 2015). Kacey Wong
The Australian-made Walking Shelter includes a reflective silver lining for insulation and can be packed up into the heel of a high-top sneaker. (Sibling, Australia, 2008)
The Australian-made Walking Shelter includes a reflective silver lining for insulation and can be packed up into the heel of a high-top sneaker. (Sibling, Australia, 2008) Tin&Ed
The star-shaped Y-BIO tent contains fabric slings that can be modified to alter the tent's size. (Archinoma, Ukraine, 2009).
The star-shaped Y-BIO tent contains fabric slings that can be modified to alter the tent’s size. (Archinoma, Ukraine, 2009). Aventoza
This inflatable tent, known as the DesertSeal, is designed to protect against high temperatures. (Andreas Vogler, Germany, 2004)
This inflatable tent, known as the DesertSeal, is designed to protect against high temperatures. (Andreas Vogler, Germany, 2004) Architecture and Vision
Bufalino, a pint-sized, three-wheeled camper, holds a bed, fridge, storage and enough space to sit and cook. (Cornelius Comanns, Germany, 2010)
Bufalino, a pint-sized, three-wheeled camper, holds a bed, fridge, storage and enough space to sit and cook. (Cornelius Comanns, Germany, 2010) Cornelius Comanns
The cover for <em>Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move</em>.
The cover for Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move. Courtesy Phaidon