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New Zealand's W2 presents Romotow – the fold-out Swiss Army Caravan


December 18, 2012

The Romotow, folded up and ready for transport.

The Romotow, folded up and ready for transport.

Image Gallery (7 images)

New Zealand architectural and interior design firm W2 has never designed a caravan before – and it shows. The Romotow fold-out luxury caravan is unlike anything we've come across before.

And that's a deliberate distinction – W2 Director Stuart Winterbourn told Gizmag he's never found caravans all that interesting: "To a lot of people, they're not desirable … including us. Generally, you're using it in summer, and it's stinking hot, and you don't really want to be inside a caravan. And if you don't want to be inside, you've got maybe some sort of screen you can pull out, and a rickety chair and table … it's not that nice.

"We thought why don't we come up with something that integrates a house and a deck. Generally you've got a good view when you're out in the wilderness, and you want to take advantage of it. That was the inspiration, just to create a connection with the outdoors."

The Romotow fold-out caravan. The living quarters is folded out, revealing the open deck a...

The Romotow looks a bit like a high-tech horse float when it's folded for travel. But when you find a place to set up camp, the center folds out, floating the living quarters out to the side and revealing a very attractive covered deck area. Steps lead up onto the deck, which can be weatherproofed with pull-down screens, and the whole thing looks like a very quick setup.

Winterbourn says the design team were playing with a folding knife when the idea came to them: "Yeah, the Swiss army knife was a bit of an inspiration there. We were fiddling around with one of them, and thought 'why don't we have a floor structure which rotates out… Or why not have a roof which does as well… Or why don't we just join them up.' It seemed like the obvious way to do it, without being overly complex."

Opening the sleeping area out expands the Romotow's floor area by some 70 percent – a nice option. But it also looks very possible to leave it folded up if you're dealing with a smaller campground or a cramped area.

An interior view of the Romotow concept.

Does a large moving living area present any particular engineering challenges? "We know it'll work – we design houses, that's what our firm does. The key was just the bearing, which needs to rotate with a bit of force on it. That sort of technology is available in excavators and that sort of thing, it's not too far removed from that. We're pretty confident it's not actually that complicated."

Likewise, Winterbourn doesn't believe the weight penalty on the flip-out caravan design will be too onerous, provided the Romotow is manufactured using lightweight materials. And you may not pay a weight penalty at all, if you consider the 70 percent extra floor space into your calculations.

It's a pretty nifty idea. The Romotow looks like it would be quick and fun to set up, pleasant to stay in, and it'd turn every head at the campsite – it's like a little luxury outdoor cabin on wheels – or of course it could be equally well suited to being a mobile cafe, first aid center or any number of other uses.

Will it make it to production, or even prototype stage? Well, that depends on interest. W2 is preparing to shop the concept around to manufacturers and design companies if enough interest is shown. It's certainly a cool idea – here's hoping they get to build it!

Source: Romotow

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain

Fantastic idea!

Ross William Mcewen-Page
18th December, 2012 @ 07:17 pm PST

Nice "outside the box" thinking...

Charlie, Galway
19th December, 2012 @ 01:27 am PST

That is something I would definitely be interested in buying. Now if it can only be sold in the States.

19th December, 2012 @ 01:50 am PST

Love it!

Reakon it would be more aerodynamic than most caravans to boot.

That means big fuel savings.

Hope they do well and can get it to market, in New Zealand and elsewhere!

19th December, 2012 @ 02:02 am PST

If that's caravaning, I,m In

19th December, 2012 @ 02:20 am PST

This looks like a great concept though the idea of a folding caravan is not new. Back in the 1980s I had one built in France by Rapido which folded down into a low trailer and more than doubled it's footprint when erected, People used to be amazed when you opened it out!

19th December, 2012 @ 02:31 am PST

I would suggest an easily removable cover for all the glass in the front and sides. Otherwise flying stones from the road, dust, dirt and bugs make for a lot of cleaning/damage.

OR simply turn the trailer around and tow it via the rounded back, sparing the front (now rear) window from a lot of the stones and bugs.

19th December, 2012 @ 04:26 am PST

Someone really ought to look at the Trailmanor line of campers.

19th December, 2012 @ 08:43 am PST

I liked it and it's better aero before I saw it openned which is about the dumbest way to increase room I've seen.

To say it won't weigh much more shows thw designers are not very good.

Better would have it slide out back or most of many ways than this.

19th December, 2012 @ 08:52 am PST

Ill conceived in my mind. It would appear to me that the roll out room would require a very flat and level surface. Not likely to be found in nature. Parking lot camping comes to mind, the perfect Wal-Mart camper has been designed.

19th December, 2012 @ 09:19 am PST

So they came up with a really expensive high-tech approach to put a hard-roofed *tent* in front of their camper? I'm sorry, but that's about the dumbest idea I've seen this week...

It's a good thing these design forms never actually have to build any of this crap. They get lots of free publicity from gullible sites like this, just by putting out some nice glossy computer renderings that show off their "out of the box" thinking. And then they can go back to their main business of doing interior design.

19th December, 2012 @ 10:37 am PST

Most campgrounds are perfectly flat RBB. I don't think this was designed with anything else in mind.

Jason Catterall
19th December, 2012 @ 02:54 pm PST

A fold-out porch? Except for complexity, weight and cost, what more does this offer than the ubiquitous roll-out awning?

Gary Fisher
19th December, 2012 @ 04:55 pm PST

I don't think that it's a bad idea and it certainly does provide so nice additional space. The only problems I see are that you'd need to support the swing-out, as too much weight at that end would make it unstable. Also, caravan parks are typically designed to pack them in side by side, so you'd likely have to hire two spots. Not the end of the world...

Marcus Carr
19th December, 2012 @ 07:06 pm PST

Their words...

"We thought why don't we come up with something that integrates a house and a deck. Generally you've got a good view when you're out in the wilderness, and you want to take advantage of it. That was the inspiration, just to create a connection with the outdoors."

Wilderness implies camping in what Americans call boondocking, no water, power, or sewer hookups. To get the flat surface required you would need to park in a campground (as Marcus said needing 2 spots)which typically does not qualify as wilderness. Since your in a campground anyway why not add an air conditioner.

Their words...

"To a lot of people, they're not desirable … including us. Generally, you're using it in summer, and it's stinking hot, and you don't really want to be inside a caravan."

I think I'll stick with my Fifth Wheel.

20th December, 2012 @ 03:31 am PST

As an ex caravanner I find this design concept totally impractical. The strength needed to make this work would increase the weight of the caravan so it would need a tank to pull it. Perhaps it could work as a static caravan (mobile home). Pretty, but not practical.

24th December, 2012 @ 03:03 am PST
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