1. An economic challenge
The car is the most technologically advanced consumer product. But will it be so tomorrow?
The automobile is a 20th century object. For over a century it has shaped, and in turn been shaped by, the manufacturing production line. Automation has made manufacturing more efficient - design processes, too - but the fundamentals; the formal elements of vehicle architecture, the way they are used and consumed, have remained the same.
In the 21st century, connectivity, automation and electricifcation are making cars more technologically advanced, but also more expensive. Meanwhile, shared ownership, changing lifestyles and environmental considerations demand we build fewer of them. The traditional economics of mass manufacturing - that 20th century birth place of the modern car - simply won’t stack up. The greatest challenge to the automobile will be utilisation rates, which must be far more efficient than they are today.
2. What is discrete construction?
Discrete construction is an emerging field of experimental architecture. Borrowing from computer science, it proposes highly flexible construction methods. It starts with a singular, mass produced part, a voxel, which, utilising computational design and automated assembly, can be repeatedly reconfigured into infinite designs.
The Discrete seeks to address issues of automation in a progressive manner. It questions the role of the designer, reframing their practice away from the direct manipulation of material, and towards the creation of systems and platforms, a form of indirect creativity. It questions the power of the designer, and purposes automation to seek a more democratic future.
3. Introducing discrete automobility
Discrete auto-mobility could offer the increased utilisation rates demanded by CASE mobility. ‘Education brick’ is not concept car. It is a concept manufacturing system. Imagine a vehicle interior, the design of which was not fixed, but infinitely adaptable, reassembled for each trip, for each individual, adjusted for optimal utility, comfort and experience.
‘Education brick’ is the first ever Discrete Auto-mobility concept, designed to teach these principles and methods to an automotive audience; to test them, to refine them, and to encourage a broader discussion, on issues of automation. The designer’s role is changed, they create the conditions within which design occurs. It raises questions; Who truly owns a design? What agency does the user have? How can mobility be made more democratic?