Although the work of the architect is oriented to the design of buildings, it is not uncommon for them to be involved in the design of large infrastructures, such as bridges, antennas, etc. However, after the appearance of the motor vehicle, many architects also wanted to participate in the development of this new means of transport, especially when it went from making simple carriages that moved thanks to an engine (instead of pulled by horses) , to minimal motorized spaces, more or less livable and with certain aerodynamics that would completely invade the cities of the future.
Although many of these designs were limited to prototypes, some inspired engineers and manufacturers to develop cars that were very successful. These are some of the vehicles designed by architects with the most impact on automotive history:
1923 - Loosmobile Adolf Loos
The loosmobile, designed by the architect Adolf Loos had a peculiar design, with a raised interior in its back that brought many criticisms. This elevated area inspired the caravans of the 50s. Although the body of the vehicle does not respond to the aerodynamic needs that were beginning to be taken into account, it did respond spatially. The central body of this car was wider than the rest to provide a greater amount of interior space.
1933 - Car Dymaxion, R.B. Fuller
This vehicle, of which only 3 prototypes were manufactured, was part of Fuller's Dymaxion project (dynamic maximum tension), which included the well-known Dymaxion House. Fuller designed a very aerodynamic vehicle with a capacity for up to 11 people. The consumption was of 7.4 l / 100km (very reduced for the time) and reached up to 190 km/h.
The problem was that, during some tests carried out in his presentation, he had an accident, the Dymaxion car overturned, the pilot died and the co-pilot was injured. Although the causes of the accident were not clarified, this caused the potential investors to withdraw. Currently there is a prototype of which only the interior remains.
1935 - Voiture minimun, Jeanneret and LeCorbusier
As we commented at the beginning, the architects of the time observed how the car became a new protagonist of the cities, began to take it into account in all its projects, for this reason in Villa Saboya the radius of curvature of the entrance path corresponds with the turning radius of this vehicle.As a curiosity, Le Corbusier proposed demolishing the entire center of Paris and replacing it with a regular urban layout with wider and equal blocks, in order to favor the correct circulation of the car (which, in contrast, is currently prohibited in the center of many cities).
1955 - Nardi 750 Bisiluro, Carlo Mollino
In line with other architects and engineers of the time focused on the design of vehicles, the architect Carlo Mollino collaborated in the design of this car aimed at competition, focusing on reducing aerodynamic drag and weight as much as possible.
It was tested in the competition at Le Mans in 1955 and ended up off track, as both its control and its behavior against the lateral thrust of the wind did not turn out to be very good. On the other hand, thanks to this runway exit, he was saved from the catastrophic accident that occurred in this Le Mans competition in 1955.
2010 - Z-Car I, Zaha Hadid
Already in the 21st century, we can talk about the Z-Car I of the architect Zaha Hadid. Yes, the problem has changed and cars too. Although work continues on aerodynamics, this is no longer the main concern. In this prototype the intention is to reduce to the maximum the size of the vehicle that circulates in the cities, for this, the Z-Car I of Zaha Hadid could bend and stretch. On the other hand, we no longer talk about vehicles with combustion engines, but about electric vehicles or driven by hydrogen. In this type of vehicle, when the batteries and engines occupy less space, the interior space increases and perhaps this is why some architects have returned to the scene.
2013 - Toyota ME.WE, Jean-Marie Massaud
In 2013, the French architect Jean Marie Massaud, in collaboration with Toyota, developed a sustainable, futuristic and "anti-crisis" vehicle. With a body of expanded polypropylene 100% recyclable and an electric motor in each wheel, this prototype of urban vehicle with capacity for 4 people but with a small size was presented.As we have said, we are working on new aspects in which architecture has an advantage in the automotive sector, such as sustainable and recyclable materials as well as interior, which now, thanks to the new electric motors, can redefine and take advantage of maximum. As interesting data and proof of this greater flexibility, the system of banks (instead of isolates) of this Toyota would be totally removable and would allow us to picnic outside, while the interior of the car would be completely transparent.
For now it is a conceptual car like many others and we do not know if Toyota will ever market it.
In conclusion, we could say that there are not too many cars currently designed by architects, to say nothing. However, we have collaborated throughout history in its design and have contributed interesting ideas.