Students from London’s Royal College of Art have been showing off their concepts to improve rural mobility at the Royal Automobile Club.
Kicking off London Motor Week, the event saw 35 RCA post-graduate students tasked with designing methods of transportation for the year 2030 and beyond for commuters living in rural areas. The project focused on rural populations and the challenges these communities now face.
Demographic changes combined with ageing and underdeveloped infrastructure pose unique mobility challenges to rural communities, and the competition sought to unearth solutions to these issues. In order to convey the difficulties that rural living can present for residents, students spent time in the rural market town of Wadhurst in East Sussex before setting to work on their designs and presenting their ideas at the RAC’s Pall Mall clubhouse.
The Insight Award went to project Carnier, a vehicle designed to help farmers sell their products. The multi-functional vehicle can be used as personal transportation and converts quickly into a pop- up facilitating retail at markets. Autonomous capability also allows fresh or unwanted food to be delivered within the community while the farmer tends to other tasks.
The vehicle design uses locally sourced materials for the interior and exterior including wood and textiles to create a balance between tradition and technology. It is the brainchild of RCA students Domenico Perna, Marie Torrens, Zheming Zhang, Whenhao Zhang and Seok-woo Choe.
Speaking of the design, Dr Chris Thorpe said: “The Insight winners addressed critical rural needs and used mobility to connect with social aspects of the community providing a solution for cohesion. The autonomous vehicle delivered was visionary in its design.”
The Style Award went to project SOHO, where students Abhidnya Kothavade, Dinesh Raman, Joseph Zammit, Xiao Yang and Sharon Ramalingam developed a design solution known as ‘Carchitecture’. This involved a smart mobility infrastructure that uses dormant vehicles to create temporary shared multi-purpose spaces on demand.
Presenting the Style Award, Dr Chris Thorpe said: “The team provided an architecturally design led concept that worked aesthetically and sympathetically with the village environment which was over and above its mobility function.”