An Airstream or any campervan is a great inspiration for a restoration project, as you can easily get creative with it! For an architect it’s a playground of endless possibilities, and this is what Wally and his son Matthew Hofmann discovered years ago. Based in Santa Barbara, CA, they’re the only licensed architecture firm in the world who specializes in full-service design and renovations of mobile spaces. We’ve asked them a few questions about their recent projects…
Where did the idea for Hofmann Architecture come from?
The genesis of the idea can be traced back to the place where many great quests begin: CraigsList. I purchased and renovated an Airstream. It contained all the spirit of small, low-cost, sustainable and efficient living space. Where else can you sit in a bed, reach over for a coffee, flush the toilet, open the refrigerator and get a beer all in the same 150 square foot space? The desire to live a simpler lifestyle motivated me to create the Hofmann Architecture custom small space renovation firm. I couldn’t see myself sitting behind a computer every day, so I stepped out in faith and started doing for others what I had done for myself – creating an elegant, functional, and sustainable mobile space that offered freedom, adventure and comfort.
The firm is run by father and son Wally and Matthew Hofmann.
What was your first project? Was it a success?
My first 1978 Trade Wind 25’ — Visionary — was the first of more than 200 more mobile projects.
And yes it was a success! At the beginning of starting my own Architectural firm it helped me reduce my costs and simplify the way I lived. It was the driving force behind Hofmann Architecture. The first Airstream project was a hands-on discovery that changed my life, and since 2011 it has changed the lives of hundreds of our clients from all over the world, as well. My first design featured bamboo surfaces, a cantilevered sliding sofa that easily converted into a double bed, an expansive meal prep countertop, easily accessible technology, and efficient upper and under cabinet storage spaces. It made use of recycled waste, repurposed components, and locally-produced materials installed by local artisans. It was the perfect space for a sustainably-minded young Architect.
Matthew, founder of this mobile space vision, made this ’78 Visionary his first project and home.
How to conveniently use every inch of the room.
Which mobile vessel is your favorite? Airstream trailers or Sprinter vans?
Hands down, the iconic Airstream was my first love, but my design aesthetic is adaptable to any vessel. We’ve created beautiful spaces for Sprinters, boats and traditional homes. But the classic mid-Century modern styling of the iconic vintage Airstream is timeless and has a special place in my heart. Even after working with Airstreams 365 days a year, there’s still an excitement when I see one rolling down the highway in all of its glory. It still makes me smile.
GlobeTrotter ’64 – A great way to impress your friends at a BBQ!
The GlobeTrotter provides a great kitchen space
Have you ever built tiny homes or container houses?
Yes! It all started with a 6-story treehouse at my childhood home in the Eastern High Sierra town of Mammoth Lakes. Since then we’ve designed spaces for vessels such as boats (see a 3D view ), shipping containers, motorhomes, stationary hotel trailers, backyard guest house sheds, and all types of tiny houses.
What is the average budget someone should plan before calling you guys? And how long do a restoration project usually take?
The actual cost and timeline of a renovation varies on the scope of work, however there is a basic cost for the process that leads to a quality product for all projects. Typical project budgets start at $120,000 and range upwards of $500,000. Current design process starts are currently being booked within 60 days, and renovation starts are about six months out. Renovations take from six to eight months to design and produce. Project are booked with a signed Discovery Phase agreement.
Here is a selection and links with approximate budgets for recent renovations.
Project name : Mary (’74)
Type: Recreational guest house
Project name : Delivering Happiness (’85)
Type: Recreational / Marketing
Project name : Aussie (’74)
Type: Shipped to Australia, for upscale adventure-seekers.
Project name : Linda (’72)
Type: High-end, luxury space for traveling the USA
Project name : Elizabeth (’79)
Type: Semi-permanent home overlooking the wine country