If you weren’t stuck in gridlock, where might you be? And if you didn’t have to focus on driving, what else might you do? A new autonomous vehicle project by Space10—the Ikea future-forward R&D arm that brought us mealworm meatballs—and the creative agency f°am Studio are proposing answers to those questions.
The Spaces on Wheels project envisions seven autonomous vehicles that are also an office, a farm stand, an AR gaming experience, a doctor’s office, a cafe, a pop-up shop, and a hotel. It’s transportation multitasking.
“The day fully autonomous vehicles hit our streets is the day cars are not cars anymore—they could be anything,” says Bas van de Poel, a creative strategist at Space10. “The primary function of transportation disappears to give rise to other functions. It could be an extension of our homes, our offices, our local cafe. It’s like comparing a car to a horse; [autonomous vehicles] will be something completely different all together. So what would we like it to be? That’s what we find interesting to trigger conversations about.”
Companies are racing to show us tantalizing visions of a future with AVs. Most recently, Volvo debuted a concept for a self-driving sleeping cabin. Spaces on Wheels is another such exercise. Space10 and f°am Studio wanted to explore how people could get from point A to point B doing something more interesting than just sitting in a car. But do we really need autonomous cafes and pop-up stores clogging our streets?
According to Space10, this project is more about envisioning the kind of future we’d like to have. Spending more time on leisure activities, making healthy food and health care easier to obtain (via roving AVs that come to you), and taking the slog out of commuting does sound nice. But there’s also another way to do that: deprioritizing cars.
“Autonomous vehicles have the potential to profoundly change urban life for the better, but we also need a more holistic view on how we want to live,” van den Poel says. “We, in general, need cities that are designed for people—and not for cars—meaning that our built environments should, in a much higher degree than today, be designed for walking, biking, and social interaction. It will be the combination of AV with great city design, that I believe, truly enables a better quality of life for the many.”
See the Spaces on Wheels concepts below.