An Eighties School Bus gets a Scandinavian Upgrade

We were approached by an associate to take on an unconventional project with the idea that we’ve never done something like this before. A thirty eight foot public school bus from the 1980’s and turn it into a modern and stylish rolling home. From early sketches and learning the desirables from the client, we were able to provide a real-life rolling home without compromising on style.

All Photos By Jason Roehner {link}

Aesthetically we chose a combination of light natural birch and flat blacks for the overall color palette.  Not only does this create clean geometry throughout, birch is easily sourced in a number of thicknesses.  Typical in much of existing Scandinavian design, this color palette also allows areas to highlight where you would like light and where you don’t. The juxtaposition creates clean lines as well as clear separation between elements.

 

For the bath and shower, we went with a very unconventional material for this type of build. That being said, knowing the limitations of how this non-static home would likely move, we went with a highly durable porcelain product, attached with flex based mortar as well as mixing that mortar with a flexible silicone to hopefully extend the life of the tile.  Needless to say, tiling a curved roof line with mere inches of working space had its own challenges.

All water is collected in a custom built cage with grey water system.  For the toilet, the client requested a modern and sophisticated composting toilet that we were able to vent to the roof of the bus complete with 12volt powered exhaust fan.

The goal for the space was to enable a family of four (and soon to be fifth), effortlessly camp out for a number of days comfortably.  With the addition of rooftop solar powering six deep cycle marine batteries as well as an inverter, the family would have the necessities like lights, water, stove, fridge, and electrical outlets for charging phones and devices.  Once parked, a gas generator and properly rated amperage fuse boxes would allow for many of the included appliances.

For more rudimentary conveniences, we modified existing ideas to expand the possibilities of the space.  The children’s bunks are split in 1/3 and 2/3 sections, allowing for a flip top office space complete with USB charging and outlets. The kitchen table was fabricated in house and breaks down to allow for it to live at table height or lowered to perfectly align with the surrounding bench height for an additional bed.

To ensure the safety of its riders, the entire front seating area is equipped to safely belt up to five people. Additional safety measures included the ability to quickly remove the panel behind the master bed, allowing access to the working rear exit door. 

THE BEFORE

One thing we learned throughout this project is anything you have set a target timeframe for… triple it. Working in a bus is not like working in a workshop. Even our humbling 500 square foot workshop had its limitations.  Because the bus was stored in a covered RV lot, access to high amperage outlets was at a minimum.  99% of the welding was done offsite and then fitted on location which means your measurements need to be checked fourteen times before you cut and weld.  Even on location, working in such a cramped space, much of the time spent is in calisthenics.

INITIAL SKETCHUP PROPOSAL

We stayed pretty true to our initial designs.  Based on budgets and availability, we found a number of great resources for both the hard and soft accents throughout.  Luckily if we couldn’t find it, we built it. The overall experience was not only creatively rewarding, but also a test of where we can put our design stamp.  As the bus rolled out of the lot to head to California for its phase two of exterior esthetics, we say farewell and look forward to the next out of the box challenge.

MOOD BOARD

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