The Airstream Life
First came the idea. Then came the late nights of Craigslist searching. And then it happened quickly: a trip to a derelict horse ranch in the Salinas Valley, an exchange of cash in an old barn, and a harrowing towing adventure up Highway 101 netted me my current abode—a 1959 Airstream travel trailer.
The metamorphosis, which occurred in a generously allocated space at a friend's Stanford sculpture studio, was an archeological study in all things Americana. Tucked under couch cushions and linoleum panels, I found artifacts—mix tapes, scrawled recipes, and wrinkled photographs—that chronicled the lives of those who had dwelt within the Airstream since some stranger first purchased it in 1959 from Pacific Railroad Sales in Salinas, California. I was participating in American history by unearthing and updating one of its most iconic symbols in order to make it relevant to my age and time.
The renovation was necessarily an exercise in restraint and creativity. With just 150 square feet to work with, I jettisoned the 1950s colors of flesh tone paint and wall-to-wall linoleum, and moved in with cork flooring, track lighting, fresh colorful paint, and custom designed cabinets and furniture to fit the sinuous interior topography. I revealed the beautiful workmanship of the riveted aluminum end caps, and removed sewage facilities completely. I performed the work myself, trying to keep the design in my head one step ahead of the building process of my hands.
My obsession with mobility, modularity, and affordability began long before the Airstream and has since extended beyond. As a recently self employed (read: laid off) landscape architect, I have been able to address several of the problems that I see in my field. Namely, the lack of connection between the LAND and the ARCHITECT. Whereas landscape architects once spent significant time ±on the site, the profession now finds some of the most creative minds shoehorned into cubicles. This seemed like a loss to me, and I wondered how it might be possible to create a space for real understanding within the profession—the kind of understanding that occurs from seeing a day of shadows move across a place, or listening to and observing people in a space.
For more images, head over to the slideshow.