Berlin-based designer Michael Hilgers has created a campervan conversion jam-packed with smart space-saving features. Dubbed Vanjoy, the campervan concept boasts a clean, minimalist design that makes maximum use of the working space. Starting with a standard Fiat Ducato van, Hilgers designed an interior to achieve a mobile, multi-functional and affordable part-time living space. The result is a tiny house on wheels that can serve as a work vehicle, a mobile office or, as Hilgers describes it, "a kind of rolling test laboratory for space-saving solutions."
"To be honest, I just needed a new car and after some unsuccessful market research I decided to build the van of my dreams by myself because there was absolutely no product on the market which could fulfill my really simple needs," Hilgers tells New Atlas. "I wanted a compact van to transport material I need to create prototypes. I needed a standard car which is compact enough for parking spaces in Berlin and I loved the idea of having a simple minimalist camper van. So rather than buying three cars, I created this hybrid solution."
Working purely with the Fiat Ducato's available interior space of less than 4.5 sq m (48.43 sq ft), Hilgers conceived several 3D drawings and customized prototypes before coming up with the final functional interior. He divided the van into two areas: a standing wet zone for cooking/grooming, and a comfort zone for sleeping, relaxing, dining and working.
"It was a real hands on experience," says Hilgers. "I made a lot of 3D drawings in advance to develop the final solution but in the end you have to try it on the object itself. I built a lot of stencils and mockups before I came to this final result. Normally there is a lot of glue used in comparable vehicles, but I like simple form-locking connections much more."
The interior carpentry and furniture is made using European birch plywood and features a compact kitchen/grooming station complete with a mobile gas cooker and hidden cooler; loads of storage compartments; underfloor drawers; a hidden toilet; and a simple outdoor shower. The relaxation/sleeping zone contains multi-purpose furniture that transforms the space seamlessly from a dining area with pop-up table, corner lounge, and study space, to a sleeping area with a double bed.
By simply folding down the seating module at the rear, the unit transforms into an L-shaped bench. The rotating table is flexible and can be placed at different positions according to different needs, and users can also adjust the table surface as they like. To transform the van into night mode, two Murphy beds fold down to create a comfy sleeping zone for two adults. The van also features sliding and magnetic shutters to close the windows, creating a private atmosphere within seconds.
"Although the area surface is less than 4.5 sq m [48.43 sq ft], you don't feel cramped inside the Vanjoy," says Hilgers. "The dark wall surfaces and a light blue ceiling make the space feel bigger and create a cosy cave atmosphere."
Certified foam made from synthetic rubber was used for the insulation and the camper van is also equipped with a rooftop solar panel and a gel battery for an autonomous power supply. Furthermore, the interior cabinetry can be completely removed within minutes, allowing the van to be used to transport larger goods.
"Usually Vanjoy is in transport mode," explains Hilgers. "This means that just the bench in longitudinal direction is activated. The remaining space can be used to transport goods up to 2.4 m (7.87 ft) long, 1 m (3.28 ft) wide and 1.6 m (5.25 ft) high. If you plug in the table, you can use the interior as a small mobile office. I usually use this feature when I visit customers, or like to live temporarily as a working nomad."
If you're keen to get your hands on your very own Vanjoy, Hilgers is currently looking for potential partners to transform his concept into a viable commercial product for around €40,000 (approx. US$46,400), including the van – with the possibility of makes other than the Fiat.
"As I made the prototype by myself the costs were manageable," says Hilgers. "The biggest part of course was the van itself and then I just needed some plywood, a lot of screws, some technical stuff and a lot of time. For a possible serial production my target is to create a 'democratic camper van.' The average price Germans spend for a standard RV is approx. €72,000 (approx. US$83,470]. My target is to offer the final Vanjoy for less than €40,000."
Hilgers gives a brief overview of the Vanjoy in the video below (but be sure to activate the subtitles if you don't speak German).
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