The Trailerwrap project by Michael Hughes is one of those things we see and ask ourselves why we did not think of it first. After all, mobile homes are ubiquitous but have an equally pervasive poor reputation. Why not take that building type and reinvent it entirely? This smart project “wraps” trailers in new facades to create something modern, appealing and livable but still portable and based on an established residential building type.
Why upgrade mobile homes?
Mobile homes are increasingly a focus of fascination for architects and designers who are trying to figure out ways to create new residences in an ultra-portable world. Many, however, have jumped forward entirely and forgotten that models for these types of homes already exist. So what does one do with a prevalent existing type of building that is, by and large, ignored and disliked by society?
There are many benefits to using typical trailers: many of them already exist which saves on materials and other up-front costs and there are spaces for them virtually everywhere so more similarly sized units can be built or adapted, for starters. The degree of each remodel will depend upon the state it is in – like all good architectural adaptive reuse solutions, working with conditions at hand is critical.
There exists, most importantly, a housing niche for these kinds of structures – somewhere between condos and stand-alone houses. When they started to salvage the example seen above its wood was rotting, siding was pitted and the roof leaked. The results of their radical remodel are extremely impressive, to say the least – it retains the essential dimensions and necessary portability but almost no visual characteristics of its original form.
More on the Trailerwrap project
This project was a collaboration between Hughes at the University of Colorado. They write: “Often overlooked or looked down upon, the mobile home is an important but under-appreciated housing type that serves a wide range of residents. Since the mid-1900s, mobile homes and manufactured housing have been mass produced to provide a solution to low-cost housing; however, in doing so, several important factors that make a house a home have been overlooked. Unimaginative aesthetic and spatial design combined with inefficient energy strategies and poor construction techniques define the major shortcomings common in the industry. “
“Such conditions make these homes difficult to maintain, often leading to disrepair and abandonment. In response to common misconceptions related to trailers and the stereotypes of the people who live in them, the TrailerWrap project (TW) set out to provide simple and affordable solutions to improve the spatial quality and energy efficiency typically found in conventional manufactured housing.”