The KU Mobile Collaboratory (MoCOLAB) is a repurposed 1972 31’ Airstream Land Yacht that was conceived and designed to be KU’s community classroom on wheels. It was born out of recognition that there are many faculty and staff on campus whose work is firmly embedded in community issues, from design and urban planning, to public administration, to public health and clinical child psychology. Furthermore, that work needs close cooperation and reciprocal collaboration with community partners in its place of consideration.
MoCOLAB is essentially a room on wheels that can be used for a variety of purposes. It could be a science lab, a dining room, an elementary classroom, a conference space, and art gallery. It is designed with a high degree of flexibility through the use of movable carts and seating, as well as foldable work surfaces. It has electronic presentation resources (audio/video) both inside and outside, and heating and cooling for use year-round. The back-end has been converted into a hatchback for accessibility via a sliding ramp.
To support Bold Aspirations, KU’s Strategic Plan, through Goal 4, “Engaging Scholarship for Public Impact,” and funded by a KU Strategic Investment Grant (Level II), the project was designed and constructed by a third-year undergraduate architectural design studio course (arch409) taught by Associate Professor Nils Gore. Three of Associate Professor Chris Depcik’s senior mechanical engineering students, through the Ecohawks program, assisted with technical performance design.
The Airstream was completely gutted, down to the aluminum framing and skin, then outfitted with a curved, vacuum laminated, baltic birch wooden panelling system. All new electrical, heating and cooling was installed. The custom carts and seating were designed, fabricated and installed by the students.
Initial KU Co-investigators:
· Shannon Criss, Architecture, Design and Planning
· Nils Gore, Architecture, Design and Planning
· Andrea Witczak, Center for Civic and Social Responsibility
· Vicki Collie-Akers, Life Span Institute
· Marilu Goodyear, Public Affairs and Administration
· Yo Jackson, Applied Behavioral Science