Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spartan Manor

Space used to be pretty tight
For several years part of our studio digs were in a reconstructed aluminum travel trailer: a “Spartan Manor” built after WWII by the Spartan Aircraft Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  And now it seems that our former employee, John Arnold, who has moved away from Architecture towards Industrial Heritage and Archaeology has written a paper titled “How Does an Airstream Mean? Let Me Count The Ways.” John’s interests lie somewhere in the social sciences loosely allied with anthropology and references the old aluminum can with fond memories.  Here is an excerpt related to us:
Washing our Spartan Manor studio                      Andrzej and Iza visiting in 2004
“Until recently, California architect Obie Bowman employed a chocked Spartan Manor dating from the mid-1950s as a design studio space on his rural Sonoma County property. Before building in new drafting tables and flat files, his office stripped out the original interior of the trailer (that had been parked for 30 years), added insulation, wired for telephone and new lighting, and refinished the interior in galvanized sheet steel wall panels. Despite lacking adequate seasonal thermal adaptability and its compact working conditions, the Manor served the office for over five years as a resourceful and creative design solution that touched lightly on the land—a symbolic representation of the firm’s philosophy that clients found intriguing and engaging. This adaptive reuse of an otherwise dormant travel trailer demonstrates not only that there was a viable persistence to its original aesthetic and static utility, but that it could accept different functional meanings over time.”