The Ajiro

What is it?

Entry into, and finalist of, the 2011 James Dyson Student Design Awards by Alexander Vittouris. First seen in a Habitus Living article, here.

With extraordinary technical innovation, Vittouris did not build the Ajiro, a single-person velomobile, but grew it from a rapidly-growing strain of bamboo over a re-usable steel structure. This concept is derived from the field of arborsculpture, which specialises in the “specific modification and grafting of plants to create shaped structures”. Using this approach, the Ajiro (from the Japanese term ajiro-ami, relating to wicker weaving) eliminates the environmentally costly processes of fabrication and assembly.

What do we think?

This is a visionary design for personal mobility that successfully combines the needs of an urban population with low-energy, sustainable production techniques. Vittouris speaks vigorously of the highly refined technical demands of his design at the same time as its far-reaching social opportunities: from issues of weight distribution and cornering, to community farming and local bamboo species variation, he is committed to considering the impact of the Ajiro at every scale.

In a world where production is sadly removed from the daily experience of most individuals, the Ajiro teaches that material value goes beyond that of “discardability”. The exertion of energy and the process of witnessing one’s own efforts bear fruit create a “tangible link to the very history of the product”. This is not a nostalgic return to simpler days, but a smart and thoroughly modern response to many critical areas of everyday life – in one fell swoop, Vittouris addresses questions of urbanism, transport, production, sustainability and our own personal roles in each. We fervently hope he advances his prototype into full production.

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