In the 2001/2002 winter semester, the Faculty of Building Science at the Munich Polytechnic, headed by Prof. Richard Horden, with the blessing of the University Board, started a project to build small, mobile student appartments, called “I_home”. The chronic shortage of student accommodation made this excellent project, developed by the students themselves, of create topical interest and worthy of producing in prototype.
Function and use are here refined to a cube measuring 2.55 metres across (the maximum vehicle width allowed on the road). Thanks to funding by the Friends of the Polytechnic Association, a 1:1 scale prototype was produced by the students, who gave their all in realising a solution to a problem they know all too well. No less important was the satisfaction of being involved in a highly innovative and potentially revolutionary enterprise.
Although I_homes are designed for students, they could have a much wider user target. Easily transportable, suitable for all climes and modular, they could be a low cost solution for public authorities needing temporary accommodation facilities, or used by trade fairs, sports or other large public events. Last but by no means least, they have potential as holiday homes or first-time home owner houses.
As shown by all the work done at the Building Science Faculty, projects like these require synergy among three key areas: teaching, research and production. Students working on this project come into direct contact with the various materials manufacturers and so get hands-on knowledge of the real-life problems architects faced. This sort of interdisciplinary experience can only enhance their professional training.