Why are architects driven to design on four wheels? Is it a desire to make moveable buildings or a wish to transpose architectural techniques? Gemma Battenbough investigates.

The design industries have often inspired each other and no two have been more linked than contemporary building design and car design. From panelization to materials, from forming techniques to body paint, automotive design often tips its cap to architecture. 

Take the Audi A’KIMONO LS2.0 for example. The concept uses the exterior surfaces to house an artificial lighting system that makes the car’s silhouette stand out at night. Making use of hidden lighting, this type of light follows the relief and the shape of the surfaces. It is often used for the lighting of interiors, monuments, architectural buildings and sports facilities.

This year has already seen Norman Foster devise a possible successor to London’s iconic red double decker. The unusual design, complete with glass ‘ceiling‘, is one of several entrants to a competition held by Mayor Boris Johnson to find a replacement for the famous bus. The design by Foster + Partners, features a see-through roof curving over the top deck of the hop-on, hop-off bus to give passengers an uninterrupted view as they move through the city. A side panel would allow disabled passengers and people with prams to get aboard, and the driver and conductor would communicate with wireless headsets. 

If Foster’s design does go ahead it will be the first time an architect has successfully designed a motor vehicle, despite the long-running relationship between the to disciplines.

When it comes to designing automobiles, the efforts of architects are “usually flawed, or just plain laughable,” says the Guardian’s Steve Rose. 

When Zaha Hadid designed the (non-working) prototype Z Car a few years ago she was not thinking about driving it down the M1. Missing headlights, windscreen wipers, bumpers and mud guards, the concept was a detail-free flight of design fancy. 

“Perhaps architects are secretly jealous of automobiles,” says Rose. “Cars reduce architecture to mere background. Buildings will never mimic their mobility and their freedom. All they can do is stand still and watch.”

Architects are forever trying to capture movement in buildings. Gerhy’s free-flowing forms seem to billow and writhe, questioning the limits of a fixed space.

However, architects are experimenting with moving buildings. Beyond Dubai’s rotating Dynamic Tower, architects are attempting to make buildings walk. Walking Building, by Angeli Dakis, is a hybrid ‘hyper-building’ based on the concept of an existing 1950s factory that converts into the National Museum of Contemporary Art.

“The factory communicates ideas about contemporary art that are rooted in the 1970s, while the city around it communicates with mobile phones,” Dakis says. View the motion here: http://www.angelidakis.com/_PAGES/Animated.htm