FROM AIA SAN FRANCISCO:
The program for Lava Mae is simple: modify decommissioned municipal buses to accommodate shower facilities without impacting the mobility of the vehicles. The social ambitions of the project are not so simple: create a mobile infrastructure for the underprivileged which provides access to the fundamental right of bathing.
The modest scale and pure humanitarian intent of the project belies the complexity of both agency approvals and design engineering which we reencountered.
After conducting exhaustive community outreach and engagement, the project was ultimately blessed by all civic and community groups and completed in strict conformance with accessibility codes on an extremely limited budget. Users of Lava Mae have not bathed for extended periods, so we desired to create a space which will enhance the transformative experience of cleansing and renew their sense of dignity and health.
With modest means, we focused on the combined effects of natural light, color and sound to create an immersive and soothing environment. For privacy, bus windows are obscured and natural light is sourced from large polycarbonate skylights created by penetrating the structural frame of the bus. Walls, floors and ceilings are coved at their edges to create pod-like environments.
The pod is then coated with a custom blue epoxytruck-bedliner which creates a visually soft and calming ambiance that further enhanced by the conveyance of classical music. Water is sourced from firehydrants and heated by a propane boiler. Black and graywater are recycled to maximum extent possible.