My life is in a state of disquieting transition, physically moving from the beach adjacent megalopolis of Los Angeles, California to the rural farmland of Pennsylvania , and mentally shifting my personal expectations of and aspirations for life. My temporary housing on the East coast is a lovely little house my mom has been fixing up for her retirement. It is a pleasant space, but it is not mine, and only feeds the sense that my life is not my own. In order to begin the end of my transition, to find grounding without ground, I decided to do the only thing which remained, create a mobile space which can be very much my own.
To that end, I recently purchased a 1971 AMC 5 ton Army Surplus M820 Expansible Van, the details of my trip to bring it home are described elsewhere. My goal is to transform it into a mobile office for myself in the rough style of a Victorian gentleman's study. It will be my daily space to work, but will have the added benefit of being able to move with me to land I one day own and to a house I one day build. In the mean time it can also take me on working vacations throughout the states, back to California, through New England, and on to Newfoundland. Some basic facilities will be included to make it a recreational vehicle, such as toilet/wash basin and hammocks enough to sleep four (which would be stowed unless needed). Kitchen/cooking facilities may be left out of the design or may be very limited, as basic camping-appropriate cooking equipment would likely suffice and could be stowed away using very little space.
Below are photos of the truck, some Sketchup designs for the interior, and some notes describing features and obstacles related to the design of the interior of the expansible box:
- The deep-looking book cases would be false; real books would be cut to be only a few inches deep and placed on fake shelves that simulate depth with dark paint hinting at shadows.
- The computer monitor setup in the center is not fully rendered but the concept is to go completely deskless and have all the interactive elements of my computing station on a custom welded articulated arm suspended from the ceiling. The arm would be able to move throughout the center region of the room as well as be moved out of the way. There would be three monitors as my desktop and a fourth with touch sensitive surface below as a control panel, for placing controls which monitor things (servers, system, Internet widgets, etc.) and app launch widgets, etc.
- The toilet would be an incinerating toilet (versus a typical water-based toilet). This eliminates the need for a black water storage, and the need to dump that waste. Ick. The incinerating toilet is powered by electricity. A wash basin for the toilet will be provided and its gray water would be gotten rid of via a simple evaporative system on the outside of the vehicle.
- The fireplace would likely not be functional (much as I would love to have a real fire), it would likely house a 21" monitor or something to display the video of real flames (I've got a few spare ones and I dislike the false look of those artificial electric logs).
- The portrait above the fireplace would conceal an HD tv. The TV would have the framing around it and a light, removable styrofoam board would be placed on top with the portrait.
- The couch shown is just a thought. What I need to do is add considerably more storage, but I'm not sure how to effectively do that without making the room feel smaller.
- The box in which all this stuff is going has four windows and one door on each side which aren't used in the current design. Presumably they should be.
- I like the idea of possibly cutting a large hole in the roof to make a skylight, especially if I don't utilize the small side windows.
- The major challenge of the design will be that the expansible van operates by expanding out the left and right by three feet, with floor and ceiling panels for that section being stored against its walls. The items such as the false book cases/appliances, toilet, etc. would thus need to slide from the center outward, once the box has been expanded. As these items will be heavy this is no small issue. I may need to place the items on rails or something. Also, because the box may not be able to be expanded in all situations (because of parking space and/or the not insignificant work involved in opening the box) the interior space must be comfortably usable when not-expanded. The room will be much, much smaller, but it must not feel uselessly cramped.
Anyway, it's very much a work in progress...