Urban Nomadism in Amsterdam
Located in Amsterdam, Calanne and Geert are living in their self-built, foldable, and transportable off-grid home on a minimum living space bringing out the peak of livability.
It’s a bright and sunny Sunday when I meet the Irish eco-architect Calanne and the Belgian carpenter, welder, designer, and tattoo-artist Geert who now mostly works on event construction at the AMD compound, located in the harbour area of Amsterdam, where they are living in their tiny and extraordinary home. Their residence, mobi-01, is in perfect unison with all exceptional and remarkable habitations which can be found on this special ground.
As you might know, Amsterdam is a busy and modern metropolis providing all the amenities required to maintain a modern lifestyle. This is in complete contrast with Calanne’s and Geert’s living in a minimum space with minimum impact, and their decision to avoid non-renewable resources and not using the infrastructure. They call themselves mobiators and urban nomads, and they truly live the concept of roaming around the city like nomads and finding different places to stay for a while.
I must admit that when I first saw mobi-01, it was quite difficult for me to imagine two people and a baby living comfortably in it. But I couldn’t be more wrong! Although it appears tiny from the outside, the interior is astonishingly wide and rather cozy with a self-built oven that emanates heat, making the room more than snugly. Despite having very little floor space, everything necessary for daily living is there—a big table for working and doing kitchen stuff, a bench covered with sheep coats to hang around reading books, and a built-in bed on the second level above the main living room.
The story of the mobi began as part of an artistic project some years ago. Calanne and Geert then used to live a very public life, keeping their house open for everyone who might be interested in their project and their kind of living. They always wanted to have an open house, providing a platform for education, inspiration, and discussions on topics like availability of living space or sustainability.
The same week Calanne found out she was pregnant, a friend of them, furniture-maker and colleague living around Pretoria, asked whether they would like to come to South Africa to develop with him a mobile off-grid house. How could they refuse such a generous offer? That’s why the mobiators will be heading to South Africa in the near future, with the aim to bring the mobiation project to another level, maybe developing mobi-02 as a product by drawing on their experience from building mobi-01, which may now be seen as a prototype for something bigger.
Although they found a couple with a baby, who would take care of mobi-01 in their absence, they are not ready to completely abandon their much-loved house. Maybe one day they will return to retrieve their nest, to take it to Ireland or back with them to Africa.
For more information about the Mobiation Project, please have a look at the website: