From gypsies to migrant workers to families in RVs, nomadism has been a constant societal fringe condition throughout the course of history. While most people will cast aside a culture of transience in favor of the stability of the oh-so-popular permanent home, Danish artist collective N55 has constructed a mobile microdwelling known as the Walking House, in provocation.
A short video depicts the Walking House stretching its legs along Christianshavn, by Copenhagen's harbor. For more, please visit the slideshow.
We take a stroll with the the house and chat with Sam Kronick, one of the key designers of this newly-marching modular living system.
Emerging from N55’s philosophy of making art as a part of everyday life, the Walking House is the first real, modular ‘walking machine’ designed for living inside and for potentially forming various sizes of communities. Why make a house walk? Why not move something easier, such as something with...wheels? "Because the Walking House represents a possibility for a different way of life at a slow, contemplative pace. A peaceful, nomadic existence," says Kronick.
Soon to be exhibited this summer at the European Capital of Culture in Essen, Germany, the Walking House will also herald the start of Nomadic Futures, a conference dedicated to exploring the potential of nomadic living, dynamic geography, and collective ownership. (A Call for Proposals is actually out right now, and chosen projects will be exhibited alongside the Walking House.)
Its triangulation evokes a playful spirit of Bucky Fuller, as does its idea of shelter temporality -- which can be paralleled to Fuller’s ‘Lightful Houses’ or even his Dymaxion House and Car in the 1930s. According to N55, the Walking House was directly inspired by the traditional nomadic culture and horse carriages of the Romani people.
Created with the use of Processing, this is the touchscreen interface with which you can independently control the position of each leg. As you can see, you can tell it which direction you want it to walk, and how much to turn left or right (with three legs on the ground at all times for stability, moving at a maximum speed of 60 meters per hour).
Its body is constructed from a framework of steel plating, wood, and polycarbonate, but can be covered with a combination of materials, perhaps even textiles for insulation or ventilation. Its six spindly appendages are made from steel and mechanical components.
In the meantime, Kronick and the designers are working on a few extra bells and whistles before its public unveiling -- including GPS navigation, a roof deck, extra interior storage, a bathroom module, and battery monitoring (to easily check how much longer it can walk).
"We’d like it to walk along some historical and political walking routes, perhaps even the US-Mexico border," muses Kronick. He and several other designers will be living in the Walking House throughout the summer, so in a sense, their own nomadic existences will be on exhibition as well.