How ideas from RCA students for a megacity taxi in 2040 can impact on our future

Discussions on smart cities tend to miss the cultural side – the various social landscapes, which is why these designs by Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility students – asked to imagine a taxi in a speculative megacity of 2040 – are worth looking into. A couple offer some sophisticated critical design thinking too with ideas that may have seemed impossible dreams before the pandemic made all things impossible possible. Take a closer look here

RCA Show: designers rethink the automobile

A flat-pack IKEA-style relief vehicle, a car born through the sound of music, a self-healing vehicle and a 21st century interpretation of the ancient burial ritual – these were some of the more inspired ideas at the Royal College of Art class of 2015 Vehicle Design graduation show.

As the car evolves to be so much more than a mode of transport, tasked to be a home and office on the move, to seamlessly connect our worlds and to do so ecologically, students of transport design are expected to offer ideas that explore mobility far and beyond the metal sculpture, the package.

The second chapter in the life of the automobile offers an exciting opportunity for new dialogues – multiple narratives for the car. Sadly not all emerging designers are capable of such speculative thinking. The RCA, though, is renowned for nurturing some leading talent in all spheres of creativity, so it was good to see many of the students working on ideas that could help form the future of mobility.

No Infrastructure Needed by Simon Haynes is a simple self-assembly flat-pack vehicle visualised mainly as a relief vehicle for places where there are no viable infrastructure for manufacturing. It is also assessing new manufacturing processes ‘like 4D printing and examining how this will affect the design,’ he says.

As a critic of our attitude to death, Limbo, Last Journey is an intriguing concept that imagines the old burial rituals for the modern day. The creator, Florian Kainz believes dying is the greatest sin of our times. This exposed vessel, therefore, parades the deceased through the streets to its final destination, highlighting their life stories through projections on the vehicle and on the road.

Tianqin Bao celebrates the dents and damages, what is seen as flaws on the car. His Scar is a self-healing vehicle that digitally maps out and repairs parts in 3D printing so that the they become design features thus, ‘nurturing a long-lasting bond between man and car,’ he says.

Farhana Safa’s Kinesis tool works with liquid metal shifting shape when a current is applied, with, she explains, ‘electro-sculpting promoting exploration of forms, producing unified structures and surfaces’ for seamless exterior and interior design.

Elsewhere, Yibo Wu turns his autonomous vehicle into a playground for adults, Sepehr Amirseyed imagines an autonomous Bugatti super car that maintains the value of such a precious product once the traditional car qualities have given way to driverless mobility, and Carl Craven’s luxurious exploration yacht will see the super rich sail to exotic, forbidden territories in comfort.

Finally, in Simplicity Meet Passion Tony Lien explores how the sound and vibration of his violin can help visualise a more harmonised vehicle shape whilst simultaneously capturing the spirit of the music. The wire and plastic sculpture is, he says, about ‘visualising the bow of a violin and documenting each movement as the music progresses’

Nargess Banks


Read our past RCA Show reports here

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Students interpret Jaguar design

This is an inspired take on Jaguar design by Royal College of Art students Ewan Gallimore and Claire Miller created for Clerkenwell Design Week 2013, which opened this week. The initial brief, put forward by Jaguar’s advanced studio in the UK to vehicle and textile design students, was to create a joint exterior and interior form study that expresses their vision of the marque’s future design language in either a sports or luxury context.

Ewan and Claire explain their art installation: ‘We began the project by looking at light, specifically the way the light falls within the space at Clerkenwell. We thought about how our form could accentuate this light and convey volume through its use of materials and our knowledge of how these materials react with one another.’

The installation’s form relates to the Jaguar brand through its sculptural volumes, use of materials and visual lightness – this being pivotal to the marque’s ongoing design language.

‘These elements helped us to create a sculpture that aimed to display a seamless transition between interior and exterior space,’ say the team.

Read more on Jaguar design as we speak with design director Ian Callum on future ideas and Julian Thomson of  advanced design discusses on the new F-Type.

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Jerrycan inspires e-bike

One+ is an intriguing concept. Vehicle designer Fernando Ocana has created a conceptual electric bike designed specifically to transport clean water from place to place in the developing world.

The lead designer at pioneering electric car company Think, Ocana’s design is an unusual electric motorcycle inspired by the simplicity of the bicycle so that it is simple to produce and easy to maintain.

He says he was inspired by locally available material such as the jerrycan which he notes is a ‘common approach for the developing-world scenario.’

Ocana used rough plastics in the construction to keep costs low and weight nimble. The overall shape works around the need for it to hold the water containers, which can be removed and replaced as users fill up their jerrycans.

The wheels are made of rubber to absorb any shocks and impacts. This is where the battery and engine are stored to meet the renewable energy capacity in the developing world.

Ocana says the idea for the in-wheel electric engine and batteries came as an attempt to match the intensive developments in solar and wind power that are taking place through developing regions such as Central Africa.

Ocana was sponsored by Japanese carmaker Honda through the ‘mobility for the masses’ project when he was completing his masters in vehicle design at the Royal College of Art in London.

For more visit his site.
Read our review of Monoform by Ocana.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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RAC Future Car Challenge 2021

To complement the Royal Automobile Club Future Car Challenge 2011 – which took place on 5 November and required entrants to drive a 60-mile route from Brighton to London using the least amount of energy – the members club is holding an exhibition featuring designs by students at the Royal College of Art’s Vehicle Design programme.

First year students have been set the challenge of creating an artwork which encapsulates the spirit of the Future Car Challenge in the year 2021. Here are some of the proposals that are on exhibit at the RAC.

Venue: Royal Automobile Club, London – November 2011

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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