Ecuadorian design firm Al Borde has taken an old, unused train from a failed railway and turned it into a shining beacon of hope that travels the country as a mobile cultural center. Known as the "Wagon of Knowledge" (or Vagon del Saber in Spanish), the train will make stops at remote communities along its route to serve as a public space for meetings, theater shows, training programs and celebrations. It's been 12 years since the railway was last in operation, but now the renovated Boxcar 1513 has been given a new purpose.
The Wagon of Knowledge is not defined by any one purpose, and was even designed with interchangeable components that allow it to morph from conference space to performance venue right before your eyes. Only three elements are required to make this happen: a roof with several deployment options, retractable furniture and two storage spaces. Capacity varies depending on what form the train takes, but it can accommodate 60-80 people as a theater, and 20 when used as a workspace.
AL Borde worked with various industrial designers so that each one could focus on a specific area: roof, furniture or storage. This allowed for a more optimized processes, quicker construction time, and fit with the project’s theme of efficiency: “To resolve this multifunctional project, the solution focused on applying basic mathematics to architectural features. Everything is resolved under the logic of the minimum common denominator, or rather a minimal common feature: the greatest number of uses with the minimum number of elements.”
Images by Al Borde, Cyril Nottelet