Since 1955, when they were first standardized, shipping containers have had a radical effect on our physical reality. Seven million of these steel containers are now moving around the world, and their measurements have defined the design of ships, ...
railroad cars, trucks, and cargo airplanes, as well as the landscape of ports, airports, and trucking yards. And that doesn't even begin to touch on the wider and much more invisible system of distribution, of just-in-time-inventory, of information networks in which the container moves. LOT/EK, the New York-based studio with a reputation for creating architecture and environments using industrial objects, here takes on the standard shipping container as medium. The Mobile DwellingUnit (MDU) is "a shipping container transformed into a dwelling that nevertheless retains the attributes of a shipping container, i.e. it remains shippable." It is a "discreet mobile element" that can be moved around the globe, to anywhere with that can receive standard shipping containers. It's full-service interior includes push-out elements with space for sleeping, storage, eating, bathing, and cooking; these elements can be pushed smoothly back into the container when the occupant moves and needs to ship his or her living space along. Consider the MDU a trailer home for travelling between global villages. LOT/EK: Mobile Dwelling Unit, the book, will not only document the MDU concept but will provide greater understanding of the work's cultural and social context with essays by leading architectural critics, theorists, historians, and practitioners. An interview with the designers by Chris Scoates will illuminate LOT/EK's process in the creation and development of the MDU as well as their unique approach to architecture. Henry Urbach will place the MDU project in the context of LOT/EK's larger body of work. Professor Robert Kronenberg, a leading expert on portable architecture, will consider the project within the history of the genre. Aaron Betsky, a leading design critic and Director of NAi, will explore the meaning of the MDU within a larger contemporary cultural and social context of mobility and habitation. A visual essay by Andrew Blauvelt and LOT/EK will explore the territories of the MDU's inspiration and related themes of nomadic travel and industrial systems of transportation.