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LOT-EK is the New York based studio of Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano. LOT-EK’s Mobile Dwelling Unit (MDU) began as an experimental design project in 1999. A constructed version features in a current traveling exhibition LOT-EK: Mobile Dwelling Unit which was organized by the University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in conjunction with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

MDU is a 40ft shipping container that has been modified into a relocatable dwelling. The container accommodates several modules for various functions such as cooking, washing and sleeping. These modules sit within the container so that during transportation the MDU largely resembles any other container sitting on a ship or a dock.Once the MDU has been delivered to a site, the modules slide out of the container like extrusions and create an inner hallway in the newly created void inside the container.

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The plan below shows the layout of the slide-out sub-volumes:
(the thumbnail images click through to larger versions)

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LOT-EK also envisage MDU harbors, located in major cities, that can hold large quantities of racked MDU’s plugged into infrastructure services (plumbing, data etc). Cranes, mounted on tracks, would load MDUs onto slots along the rack. Steel brackets would support and secure MDUs in their assigned position.

Slide show: Further images of the MDU are available as a slide show (a new window will open). These were taken at the UCSB University Art Museum in November 2003.

Share your thoughts on the MDU in the fabchat discussion area - you'll see a thread in the ContainerBay forum

Further information: The catalog for the LOT-EK: Mobile Dwelling Unit exhibition is a hard cover book which features images of the MDU under construction, essays by Aaron Betsky, Robert Kronenburg and Henry Urbach as well as construction drawings. The book is available at but we would encourage interested readers to try to purchase a copy from University Art Museum, UCSB if possible - it helps support future exhibits. University Art Museum Tel: (805) 893-2951

MDU is on display at the University Art Museum, UCSB, Santa Barbara until December 7, 2003
The exhibition will travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, July – October 2004 and to other venues around the world including Netherlands Architectural Institute (NAI) - dates TBA

The exhibition catalogue credits the American Center Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The Italian Cultural Institute as well as individual donations for making the exhibition possible. Kudos should also go to Christopher Scoates and Bonnie G. Kelm (as well as their team) at University Art Museum UCSB and to Kathy Halbreich at the Walker Art Center.

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