Known as the Chicago Mobile Makerspace, this renovated United States Postal Service delivery van has been given a second life as a mobile community center and classroom. Completed in June 2020, the converted van has everything necessary for use as a classroom, tool shop, design studio, gallery or general meeting space. There is ample storage for power and hand tools, art materials, laptops and even larger machinery, such as laser cutters and 3D printers.
Thanks to an efficient electrical system that includes four rooftop solar panels, the sustainable community-center-on-wheels has the capacity to power tools or charge devices. The van also has a wind-powered ventilator, and the floors are fitted with Marmoleum — a sustainable flooring made from natural materials.
An interior with light birch plywood cabinets, a custom pegboard, magnetic whiteboards, seating and a desk allows students and community members to hold meetings and workshops with ease. Large windows and a warm color scheme give the 108-square-foot converted van a more spacious feel, while the design features a hinged door that allows students to easily spill outside while continuing to interact with the inside. The bright, patterned exterior helps the van stand out on the street, attracting passersby to interact with this community space.
Behind the $21,000-project is Chicago Mobile Makers, a nonprofit organization that offers free and low-cost youth workshops on problem-solving, design, architecture, digital fabrication and construction throughout Chicago. The workshops encourage local youth to inspire change in their own communities through design and skill-building. In 2019, the nonprofit engaged more than 670 youths, held over 150 workshops and served 11 different neighborhoods. Now, with the addition of the redesigned van, kids in Chicago will be able to get the same unique educational experience in virtually any location within the city, from an empty lot to a summer street festival.
Images via Chicago Mobile Makers