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This paper studies the relationship between architecture and design and questions whether these can be considered as separate disciplines. It presents a personal review of how this relationship has changed over car design within the last decade. Several interventions, including conceptual frameworks provide a motive to identify car design as a discipline based on architecture, however locating a unique ‘architectural’ state for car continues to be problematic. This argument advances this debate towards recent changes in autonomous mobility and understanding design as movement for societal as well as urban morphological change to open up new epistemic vantage points. In particular car design is at the intersection of architectural design research and advance design studies that new ways of constructing architectural and designerly knowledge emerge for driverless autonomous future.

A personal point of view; driving the space

After having a degree in architecture, I studied car&transportation design; now I am combining these two disciplines in my research projects. Architecture incorporates knowledge of other disciplines like car design that is fertile for trans- and inter- disciplinary endeavors in urban context; so my transition between two disciplines was soft and grounded. I was lucky enough for embracing aspects of rationality and intuition, objectivity and inter-subjectivity, technique and emotion, logic and creativity over architectural education that enriches the world. Within this framework, I focus on the future exclusive mobility and in my works architecture is the main determinant with its theoretical and practical manners as well as fundamental axis of everything related to car design.

As an architect designing cars as well I faced difficulties for most of my life just because most of the people are mistaken for keeping architecture and car design separate. However, both disciplines are similarly shaped on the concept of space and spatial formations at different scales. In this sense, people who design cars are also architects; they work on a basic architectural unit and create its ability to move among different spaces. As an architect I do not only design cars from the very beginning but try to examine the car as an architectural unit as well as a conceptual metaphor with its various aspects in human kind. In architecture, design is the essential feature; any kind of inquiry in which design is a substantial part of the research process is referred to architectural design process that forms a pathway through which new insights, knowledge, practices or products come into being cars that generate critical inquiry through design work.

At this point, I can state that sustainability and energy transition point the basis of my studies between mobile and immobile structures within the urban context. In the hyper-connected future city paradigms how mobile and immobile structures can establish a symbiotic relationship based on mutual benefit and how energy transition can be considered as a common denominator form the basics of my studies. Especially within the last decade significant developments have been taking place on this subject and projects are being produced.

The biggest dilemma that has challenged me in my work, until today, has been to create a content, a direction that I can find meaning and value in both areas as architect and car designer. While doing this, people wanted to see me either as an architect or a car designer; they often ignored the significant intersection and connected unity that these two disciplines form. Today the situation is quite different compared to the past; these two disciplines that thought they were moving in different directions until maybe a decade ago and expect not to meet each other at any point are moving rapidly towards to each other today; architects and car designers are now shaping the future mobility together. We can understand this better by seeing the fact that world-renowned design schools that provide education in the field of car design are changing the names of their departments one by one and how much architecture is being included in car design education every day while the names of these departments are now pronounced as Intelligent or Future Mobility Labs instead of Vehicle either Car Design; plus more architects are now working as teacher in these schools and architecture is expressed more as a basic structure within the academic content. In addition, all the industry reports, all the conferences and all the professional studies produced on this subject are carried out in a transdisciplinary approach, therefore the content of the future mobility and the profile of the professionals gain a more hybrid character far beyond a single definition or description. For example, someone who wants to design a car in the future may have to be an architect or an urban designer at the same time as well as having an idea about programming and system engineering; designing a vehicle alone may seem like a unreasonable effort that has not found its place in the hyper-connected future.

All these examples basically constitute an insight on the changing role of the architect and car designer as well as the mobility and speed-sensitive transformation of architecture; at this point car design education that I studied finds its true meaning in my life. The foresight that not only being an architect will not be enough in the future but also that it may be necessary to design mobile structures (a reference to the car) as well as being able to design the relations to be established with all other urban infrastructures as a car designer will lead us to further examinations of these two discipliness; space, sustainability and energy transition are the most fundamental constitutions of this intersection.

Most of the companies that produce cars now also design the physical environment in which these mobile structures exist along with the cars. For example in 2017 Renault presented a remarkable concept, Symbioz Concept that company’s vision for a car and home in complete symbiosis, in this content. This concept vehicle was introduced together with an architectural unit designed particularly for the vehicle; the spatial interaction between the moving (car) and the architectural structure (house), transferring and recycling of energy was specified as the image of the future on behalf of the car design. Today almost all car companies have private departments that carry out architecture and urban research in a visionary prospect and aim to examine the evolution of the car in this direction. Following the information above, architects and car designers more focus on this subject and investigate what additional functions both transportation vehicles and architectural units can have in order to transform and sustain the space and energy.


Architectural research takes place in a broad societal and cultural context, connecting academy and practice as well as car design. A clarification of this position is necessarily stimulating stronger links between those 2 disciplines in theoretical and practice-based manners. In both contexts, for architecture and car design, transdisciplinary architectural research supports projects directly through future mobility paradigms and indirectly through the continual advancement of the discipline. Future architects and car designers need to be able to establish basic premises, perform critical analysis, conduct intensive research and propose syntheses independently for a better transportation in both personal and public level that include installations, experimental projects, proposals, models and actual buildings in addition to sustainability.

This paper reviews a cross-section between architecture and car design. Most studies reflect an understanding of architecture and car as discrete entities interacting in an passive and unilateral manner. This dominant dualist understanding is concluded to be the essential cause of the ‘implementation gap' between mobile and immobile structures within architectural research. For the gap to close, the development and institution of a critical framework is needed which encourages researchers to acknowledge explicitly the ontological and epistomological issues associated with architectural practice, education and research. Underlying this recommendation is a dialectic appreciation of human-machine interaction over the car that is the spatial, experiential, interpretative quality of human kind, feeling and emotions.