14 Aug 2020 • Mobility
Why you should take Aston Martin's architecture department seriously
Aston Martin's Automotive Galleries and Lairs service helps customers integrate their car collection directly into their living space with the expertise of architects.
In what many presumed to be an April fool’s joke – until they checked their calendar – Aston Martin announced the launch of its Automotive Galleries and Lairs service last summer. The auto brand’s new division is dedicated to producing bespoke garages, entertainment spaces and retreats for customers who want to integrate their car collection more directly into their living space. An inhouse Aston Martin design team will partner ‘renowned’ architects in the client’s locale to facilitate each project. Response among both journalists and consumers has been predictably incredulous. The title of the service, while consistent with Aston Martin’s cultural link to the Bond franchise, combined with the comic-book-villain interior proposals designed by Obermoser arch-omo, make it hard for many to consider it a serious proposition.
But you should, or at least the principle of car firms segueing into running their own architectural offshoots. Aston already has experience here, its 66-storey Aston Martin Residences currently under construction in Miami, with 50 per cent of properties pre-sold. A short distance away is the newly completed Porsche Design Tower, which includes a lift that will transport your car to your apartment. At the more modest end of the spectrum is Mini’s co-living development in Shanghai, due to open later this year. A car-sharing programme comes as part of the package.
Perhaps the most instructive project, however, is Renault’s Symbioz concept from 2017, which is thus far the most developed statement by a car company on how their vehicles will have to act as integrated components of the home space in the era of autonomous vehicles. As cars transition towards being ‘third spaces’ in which we conduct a range of tasks usually provisioned in other contexts and by other industries – from sleeping to working – so too will auto makers have to expand both the definition of their core product and their range of expertise.
All the brands mentioned above have their own autonomous driving programmes, and while their current residential projects might seem frivolous, you can bet they understand that investing in their architectural skill base today will help them gain an upper hand in a car market that’s set to radically alter over the next few decades.