written by:
April 6, 2010
Originally published in Big Ideas for Small Spaces

With the classic Murphy bed as muse, Japanese architect Toshihiko Suzuki transformed a standard Airstream into a versatile small wonder.

To maximize the small space inside the Airstream, Suzuki removed the existing structures and added a central island the follows his <i>kenchikukagu</i> style of design. Near the door (front of photo), a sink and cook top is hidden under the steel cover. A
To maximize the small space inside the Airstream, Suzuki removed the existing structures and added a central island the follows his kenchikukagu style of design. Near the door (front of photo), a sink and cook top is hidden under the steel cover. At the rear (back of the photo), a dining table transforms into a set of twin beds. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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The steel lid opens up at one end of the island to reveal a sink and hot plate for cooking a meal. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
The steel lid opens up at one end of the island to reveal a sink and hot plate for cooking a meal. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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Renovated Airstream trailer kitchen with skylight
Inside the renovated Airstream, a woman prepares a meal. The skylight above the cook top lets fumes escape the small space. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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Though the space is small, Suzuki's design seats six comfortably. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
Though the space is small, Suzuki's design seats six comfortably. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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Under the dining table (which transforms into two twin beds) are circular slots for storing wine. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
Under the dining table (which transforms into two twin beds) are circular slots for storing wine. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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When the table isn't filled with food and surrounded by guests, it can transform into two twin beds. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
When the table isn't filled with food and surrounded by guests, it can transform into two twin beds. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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The table tops fold up to reveal part of the beds and the tucked-away reading lamps. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
The table tops fold up to reveal part of the beds and the tucked-away reading lamps. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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picnic-style table in renovated Airstream trailer
The sides of the table then fold down and connect with the benches to create bases for the beds. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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Much like traditional Japanese futon beds, the mattress hidden in the table folds out for a softer place to sleep. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
Much like traditional Japanese futon beds, the mattress hidden in the table folds out for a softer place to sleep. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
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Here, the view of both beds open. Click <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IftSA2sy3bg">here</a> to watch a video of the transformations. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
Here, the view of both beds open. Click here to watch a video of the transformations. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
Courtesy of 
Sadamu Saito
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To maximize the small space inside the Airstream, Suzuki removed the existing structures and added a central island the follows his <i>kenchikukagu</i> style of design. Near the door (front of photo), a sink and cook top is hidden under the steel cover. A
To maximize the small space inside the Airstream, Suzuki removed the existing structures and added a central island the follows his kenchikukagu style of design. Near the door (front of photo), a sink and cook top is hidden under the steel cover. At the rear (back of the photo), a dining table transforms into a set of twin beds. Photo by Sadamu Saito.
Project 
Kenchikukagu Airstream
Architect 

In 2009, architect Toshihiko Suzuki, of Tokyo-based design firm Atelier OPA, applied his Japanese small-space sensibility to a gutted Airstream and created what could be considered the ultimate condensed caravan.

Inside the trailer, Suzuki installed a long island based on kenchikukagu, which means “architectural furniture” and is the name of a collection of his designs. The Kenchikukagu-series Mobile Kitchen, Foldaway Office, and Foldaway Guestroom are each housed in a wooden box that hinges open or expands like an accordion to transform into a room that can later be rolled away. Likewise, the island in the mid-dle of the Airstream folds open to reveal an equipped kitchen and either a dining table for six or two beds, each with its own reading light.

The flexibility of the design adds to the longevity­—–and the sustainability—–of the space, Suzuki says: “Architecture is seldom destroyed because it has a long life span.” So despite the renovated Airstream’s spatial shortcomings, the multitude of possible arrangements means it has miles of road still ahead of it.

To see more images of the project, please visit our slideshow.

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