Mobile architecture

A special feature of the Flying Artist’s Room programme is that it brings its own non-school place with it to school. It serves as a live-in studio space for the artist, but also as a place of work, learning and creativity for everyone involved. 

In their design, architects Prof. Nikolaus Hirsch and Prof. Dr. Michel Müller rose to the challenge of developing this kind of flexible space. The aesthetics of a classic artist’s studio played as important a role as the possibility of living in it, while at the same time making the entire space flexible and functionally useable for different creative formats and work situations as well as transportable from place to place.

Mobile architecture has always played a prominent role in the history of construction. Today, though, it also stands for difficulties in society and is primarily interpreted as a symptom of crisis, such as clusters of containers replacing dilapidated schools or providing accommodation for refugees.

Therefore, in the design of the mobile artist’s studio, it was about turning this awkward attribution on its head and, despite the temporary logic of an annual change of location and its modular construction, creating a building that does not look like a “container” but fits naturally in a rural setting and school grounds.

The building, which is around 7.50 x 11 metres with an area of approximately 80 square metres, was originally closed to the outside on three sides, but is now closed on two sides, and has a compartmentalised wooden shingle façade that deliberately leaves the scale of the building unclear. Inside there is a generously proportioned studio illuminated from above by natural light, whose clear height of up to 3.50 metres exceeds standard container dimensions and so again creates a studio ambiance. 

“Naturally it was quite a long development process to come up with proportions that are as far removed as possible from the typical container constructions we see all around us.”

(Prof. Nikolaus Hirsch, architect)

“It was important to us for the building to have a certain autonomy and deliver a spatial situation that you don’t find on school premises or in school contexts.”

(Prof. Dr. Michel Müller, architect)

“The Flying Artist’s Room never stays the same: it’s always on the move.” 

(Prof. Nikolaus Hirsch & Prof. Dr. Michel Müller, architects)

Kai Laumann carpenters and roofers
In 2018, under the guidance of architects Prof. Nikolaus Hirsch and Prof. Dr. Michel Müller, the wooden modular construction specialists Kai Laumann made a prototype consisting of four individual modules. It was constructed in such a way that the modules could be transported on low loaders and “flown” to different school sites in Hessen. Between 2018 and 2020 KaiLaumann produced three of this first prototype that can be found in three of the six school locations.

Lukas Wegwerth
Following the decision in autumn 2021 to extend the programme by four more locations – three more school locations and one in the Frankfurt district of Preungesheim – work began on developing a new prototype. Architects Prof. Nikolaus Hirsch and Prof. Dr. Michel Müller revised their original design from scratch with designer Lukas Wegwerth, retaining the basic structure of the accommodation module and studio space and the wood and shingle aesthetic. However, the new prototype can be dismantled into smaller segments to make transportation easier. In the process, issues such as accessibility, sustainability and a new porousness and opening into the outdoor space were given greater consideration with the addition of another double door at the back. This studio design can now be seen at documenta fifteen.