Trailer Gets Sleek and Sustainable Design

SCI-Arc student Dovid Feld has been helping us work out a new design for our 1951 Spartan Trailer.   The banquette area that wraps around the front windows will be the centerpiece for our indoor events:

Dovid's design envisions a modular banquette area for rehearsals and performances.

The area will be used for rehearsals, discussions, poetry and play readings, as well as art sessions with young people like our buddies the NOMADS. We took our inspiration from 1950′s-style diners. But we had to make sure that the seats would be light-weight so we could transform the space into a “stage” for concerts, puppet shows, etc.:

Vinly upholstery made with low VOCs and recycled content

Check out the upholstery material we are considering!   We are committed to building in a sustainable manner and take pride in doing considerable research before choosing materials.  This material is made from sturdy vinyl but it contains low VOC’s and uses 30% recycled content (20% post-consumer recycled polyester and 10% pre-consumer recycled vinyl).  We got the idea for using this particular brand from some of the students at SCI-Arc who working on a design for the Solar Decathlon, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The front windows have always been a key feature of Spartan trailers; the designs are intended to be reminiscent of an airplane cockpit.  However, the windows are fixed.  To open them up requires cutting into the skin and frame – not an easy feat.  The Spartan’s aluminum frame (a monocoque design) accounts for 70% of the trailer’s strength.  Cutting into it involves risk and opens up the possibility of leaks.

The bay window area of our 1951 Spartan is a great design. But the windows are fixed; we want to open them out. The job represents a considerable engineering challenge.

We’ve found the right guy for the job – Eddie Paul from EP Industries.  Opening up the windows, will allow us to make art (puppet shows, shadow plays, dances) available to outdoor audiences.  A small portable stage over the trailer tongue will add further possibilities:

The windows will open and a portable stage will go over the trailer tongue.

How is this all going to work?  We’ll figure that out as we go along, with the help of playwright and puppeteer Leila Ghaznavi and friends.  Her “Silken Veils” will be used as a template for other shows:  the audience will be seated outside;  marionettes and shadow puppets will be stage inside with actors and musicians on the outside stage.

Leila Ghaznavi’s “Silken Veils” will be used as a model for other performances we can stage in and around the trailer.

We’ve got a ways to go before we finish the restoration.  But we have a great new design to keep us motivated.  (Thanks, Dovid!)

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.