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College Exhibition: Coventry University MA Degree Show 2009

Wed, 23 Dec 2009

MA students from Coventry University's School of Art and Design presented their annual degree show at Coventry Transport Museum late last month. Entitled ‘Keep Movin', the nine graduating students showed a range of projects, which centered on the theme of sustainable transportation, energy efficient vehicles and new materials. There was also a sample of an earlier group project that explored the future of the car based on the ‘Foresight Future Scenarios 2055'.

Projects included a single-seat track day vehicle by Ismo Hirvonen that's designed to run on electric energy gathered from solar heat. The recyclable body of the ‘Ethermos' racer, made from basalt fiber, is covered with a coating that collects this heat and transforms it into electric energy. The small, streamlined body has no fuel tank or batteries and features tiny in-hub motors to power the car for just a limited number of circuit laps.

Daniel Spence showed an interior for a 1+1 urban tandem that uses locally-sourced materials from the UK as a way of reducing the carbon footprint of the vehicle during manufacture. Called ‘ecoBritannia', it uses a small biodiesel power unit together with locally-sourced hemp fiber for the body panels and organic nylon upholstery. Interestingly, the seat frames are made from thin inflated ‘blown' stainless steel as pioneered by the English sculptor Steven Newby.

Another project using locally-sourced materials is Matej Toni's 'Serenity' concept, which is targeted for Brazil and uses natural Brazilian resources, such as jute, flax, hemp and rubber in its construction. A kind of Citroën Mehari for the future, it also takes a scenario where energy is extremely scarce, with strict carbon allocations for each person and where vehicles would be limited to just 25mph. To make more of an event of this stately driving experience and rough roads, this open car can be steered standing up using a steering wheel assembly that can be moved and attached to the cantilevered rubber-covered roll bar. This also lends itself to a design theme that references boats and yachts: thus the driver access is via three steps at the rear of the car, which features four foldable seats and no doors. Ultra-light bio-composites are used for body panels, together with teak decking and flexible rubber for the front mask.

Nikola Vargov looked at the future in 2030, where there would be 25 percent more cars on roads but with a largely unchanged infrastructure. His answer is a compact 2+2 with a classic profile using a bioplastic body and polycarbonate glazing that is 50 percent lighter. The exterior and interior are proposed in plastic polymers made from crops from otherwise unused land. The Lithium Ion electric drivetrain is combined with a spaceframe chassis using nano-reinforced areas and extra thin A-pillars for improved visibility.

Gagan Deep Singh's 'Crosshair' project is a three-wheel electric carving motorcycle with enhanced safety and dynamics, inspired by the body structure and defence mechanisms of animals, such as the armadillo, locust and dolphins. The 'Crosshair' uses an anti-collision sensor and fairings that can deploy as part of the pre-crash sensing to protect the knees and legs of the rider. The carbon fiber fairings also feature a self-healing resin. Other features include blindspot warning sensors, a doped nano-phosphate battery, helical gearbox with belt drive and regenerative braking.

Liu Mingzhe showed another 1+1 tandem concept that mixes two elements of Audi: a Q5 size SUV but with the styling influences of the Auto Union Type-D racer. This allows a minimal frontal area for a more focused offroad driving experience in remote territories. The model was designed together with an accompanying trailer caravan.

Panagiotis Stamadianos designed a large five-meter Alfa Romeo GT, with a deconstructed form language and some influences from the legendary 6C from the 1950s. The deliberately complex body side section and fluid surfacing, where two main lines cross one another, challenges convention. The neoprene roof can be stretched to vary the profile according to your mood.

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By Eric Gallina