Alex Symes of Alexander Symes Architect created an educational center on wheels in the form of Dresden Mobile, a portable structure helping to spread the word about closed loop recycling systems and eye health. Dresden Mobile features glasses made from sea waste, milk bottle tops, and discarded land mines, demonstrating how one man’s trash can easily become another’s treasure. The structure itself features recycled building materials, including gold polycarbonate cladding and cardboard pop-outs. Both long sides of the wheel-mounted shop open completely, exposing the interior to the outside while providing shade for visitors to relax in while learning about the benefits of closed loop recycling.
The Australian architect describes the project as a demonstration of efficient resource use. In a statement on the project’s website, he explains that “sustainable materials in architecture is about thinking how we can most efficiently use the world’s resources in a respectful manner, I believe we need to create closed loop manufacturing systems where no material goes to landfill or pollutes our natural ecosystems, but is rather up-cycled to minimize resource depletion and environmental degradation.”
In the portable shop, Dresden cuts precision prescription lenses right on site. All components of the eyeglasses are interchangeable for eco-friendly repairs, and everything is recyclable as well. Inspired by the tiny house movement, Symes designed the portable workshop to be a sustainable example of portable architecture, while housing a sustainable business. Lens edging equipment is powered by a generator due to its high voltage needs, but most other electrical equipment, including lighting and the point of sale system, are powered by built-in photovoltaics and the accompanying battery storage system.
To create a portable workshop that would also be lightweight, Symes called for a polycarbonate facade, which blocks out 70 percent of solar radiation and insulates better than double-glazed materials. Dresden Mobile’s awnings open to allow cross ventilation, so that climate control systems are not necessary. When closed, the polycarbonate sides allow daylight to filter through to the interior, further reducing the need for additional artificial lighting.
Images via Brett Boardman Photography