Luxurious van conversion interior

Vansion Design Series

I've had an idea gelling for a long while now how to make a mansion on wheels that I've dubbed the Vansion. This is a series of articles discussing how to do that in more depth. It's also generally useful for anyone who wants to do a van conversion, or is otherwise considering vehicular living.

Front of white cargo van

I've been thinking about living in a van again.

BEGIN EXCERPT why are you considering living in a van again?

Arno K

Several reasons. The biggest is connection to nature. When I was living in the van, a third of my typical day was spent outside, often tailgating and lounging at a waterfront. After I put in the I2I, I got a ton of natural sun even enclosed in the van itself, on those occasions I had to close the doors because of weather or privacy. And it definitely had a good impact on my sleep cycle and circadian rhythms; in fact, the first few months I started sleeping inside buildings again, I was semi-claustrophobic. More and more, I find that I miss going to sleep under the stars.  It was like a perpetual camping trip, but with all the amenities of home right nearby.

Front of

One of my core life algorithms is: spend time to save time and invest time to increase capability, seeking to avoid repetitive hassle.

The reason why I started mobile living in the first place was because of constant re-location. I was taking 2-4 consulting contracts a year in different locations, and spent days packing and unpacking between each, not to mention hunting for short-term apartments and long-stay hotels. Within the first year I moved all my stuff into an RV just to save time. Eventually I discovered there were many unexpected time-savings to be had as Mr. Mobility. For example, I was rarely stuck in traffic; I'd just pull over and do something else until the congestion cleared. And my transit was almost cut in half in general, since I never had to make a round trip back home.

Blue hybrid electric van

Being a mathematician, I love calculating numbers, especially useful ones that matter.

We've already detailed the Vansion modes of use and principal design goals, which has given us a really good mental picture of the layout. Now it's time to make some major decisions on how to actually build the damn thing, detailing specifics of its construction. Let's begin with our known constraints and then optimize over them, outlining some big choices and their inherent tradeoffs. We'll start with our ideal dream configuration, then plan a more realistic version once we have all the facts.

Size schematic of Sprinter Van

No plan ever survives contact with reality, as engineering is a matter of expedients.

Paraphrasing Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

We've taken a thorough survey of all the uses, goals, and constraints of our Vansion and it's looking incredibly sweet. Or perhaps more accurately, the ideal dream is fantastic, both in the sense of being absolutely amazing and entirely infeasible. The practical version we could actually build is probably only really really good. :-) It's time to put our design under scrutiny, making sure it meets it really meets our needs.