”The awning” – For many campers that’s just an extension to shield them from the afternoon sun. A design-project from the late 1980s however took the awning concept to the next level: two thirds of the De Markies’ living-space is in fact a floored awning courtesy of the dropping walls of this infamous trailer. The project by the architect Eduard Böhtlingk from the Netherlands was awarded the Dutch design-prize.
Böhtlingk developed the idea of the “awning on the road” for a design exhibition by junior Dutch architects. The exhibition questioned “How do you define living-space in today’s mobile world?”
As an architect, his focus at the time was mainly on underground construction projects. Recent projects of the Böhtlingk architecture office in Maasland near Rotterdam among others include a lobby, a primary school and several apartments.
It’s no surprise that this designer in his younger years tried to revolutionize the world of mobile living. In the 80’s, the Netherlands – known in Europe for its camping enthusiasts – was already heavily populating RVs. At the time however, awnings were not yet mainstream and few had seen them as part of the motorhome.
Nobody imagined that one day, a whole vehicle would mostly consist of an awning. Today, more than 30 years after Böhtlingk published his plans for the first time, his innovative design stands as one of the most unique looking trailers ever conceived.
Triple your living space – with a click
The concept of the “De Markies” is as simple as it is brilliant. The trailer of the size of a common caravan makes the awning-camper’s core. With the awnings closed, the whole trailer measures no more than 7’-5″x 15′.
As soon as it arrives at the campsite, the sides of the trailer can unfold to become the flooring for two new living compartments, effectively, tripling the living space. The result is a 290 square foot living area for up to six campers.
The living space of the “De Markies” is divided into three separate parts. First is the midsection, consisting of plywood and a steel frame and containing a bathroom, a kitchen, and a seating area.
In one of the awning extensions, campers find two separated sleeping areas. On the other side there’s the living room with a terrace.
While the room awning shields light and provides privacy, the other side’s awning is made out of a transparent but weatherproof plastic. With good weather, this awning can also be folded-in, like the ceiling of a convertible for a breezy day underneath the summer sky.
Eduard Böhtlingk’s innovative spirit wasn’t limited to the exterior. Wanting to make mobile life as comfortable as possible, a lot of thought went into the furniture as well.
With a streamlined and space maximising concept in mind, the seats and some tables fold out of the flooring. Other parts of the furniture follow the same idea and can be compressed when not being used. Sensitive parts like the kitchen are firmly fixed into the plywood body of the trailer
Where can I buy it – Nowhere!
In 1995, his architectural office finished the first prototype of the awning-caravan one decade after Böhtlingk presented the design of the “De Markies”. One year later, the Dutch public elected it to receive the nations design-price.
Since 2002, the “De Markies” is part of the travel exhibition “Vitra” hosted by the German Vitra design museum. In 2006, the awning-caravan could be seen in Seoul in South Korea and last year it took part in a public exhibition at the Seine in Paris.
Unfortunately, until today the “De Markies” is not available on the RV market. So far, only a small number of prototypes have been produced. There is probably no good reason for this. Any production challenges that might have existed 30 years ago surely are no longer a problem.
If you want to get close and personal with it your best chance is to visit one of the exhibitions it takes part in. Maybe the next generation will have a crack at camping in one but for the time being the “De Markies” is unfortunately just an idea.