Houston, we have a travel trailer. Garrett Finney is an architect who used to create lunar habitats for NASA: now he’s come down to earth and designed a lightweight trailer for the twenty-first century.
The Cricket pop-top is the first wheeled project to come out of Faro, Finney’s Houston-based design studio. Finney describes it as “much less an RV and more a piece of outdoor equipment. On a continuum of design, I’d place it between the SylvanSport Go and the Airstream Basecamp.”
At NASA, functionality takes priority over aesthetics—and there’s a hint of that ethos in these early renderings of the Cricket. The trailer is made from folded composite panels; with a projected weight of around 1400 lbs, it should be an easy tow for 4-cylinder cars and minivans. However, this focus on saving weight means a very spartan interior. “It’s made for comfortable camping and isn’t a house on wheels,” as Finney points out.
Right now, the Cricket only exists on computer and as a full-scale cardboard model. Soon there will be a prototype, so that Finney can give it a good old-fashioned NASA-style shakedown cruise. Then he needs to make a big decision: build the production vehicles himself, or look for a venture capitalist.
Finney’s pedigree suggests that we might be hearing more about this project. Although he helped design the habitation module of the International Space Station, he’s actually better known for his earth-bound creations. Last year, one of his houses was spread over eight pages in House & Garden magazine, and others have featured in bestselling books such as Small Houses For the Next Century.
Despite these obvious architectural and engineering talents, Finney told us that he’s simply “an outdoorsy sort.” He’s currently focused on “the problems of state and national parks, the ironies of eco-tourism, and designing a 21st century sustainable campground.”
There are many others who share those interests, and they wouldn’t necessarily buy an RV from a dealer with a forecourt full of Fleetwoods. If Finney can get the styling and the pricing right, he could be onto a winner.
Update, 21 October 2008
Garrett and his team thankfully survived the hurricane: “We are alive. We were without power for 15 days which became a drag after the adrenaline wore off. We are now starting to build things, always too slow … an axle should arrive today, wheels and rims on Monday and then hopefully our chassis will arrive in a timely fashion.”