Justin and Jola Siezen are an unconventional family. They have adopted a traveling lifestyle and are constantly on the move with their baby son Piko, in a mobile home. But that’s no ordinary mobile home – it’s a magical truck that transforms into a fantasy castle, complete with a kitchen, bedroom, turret bathrooms, and a rooftop bathtub!
The couple used to spend a lot of their time on the road, because of Jola’s job as an acrobat. “We were traveling around overseas and thought about coming back to New Zealand and where we were going to live,” Justin said. “I remembered living in a bus and I was thinking ‘that’s actually not a bad idea, that would be a good start when we get back until we decide on something else.”
So they ended up getting a van in New Zealand, and soon they were using their creativity to convert it into something special. “I like engineering, I like art, and when you can put them both together it’s really good. This is like one big art project,” Justing explained. They drew up a few plans and began to work on the transforming truck.
Justin and Jola started off with the idea of having a house within the truck that would meet their minimum requirements. But their project eventually became more than that. It became a permanent home, with personal touches and smart designs that make the most of limited space. The couple love to cook, so they have a huge kitchen equipped with a full size oven and other appliances. There’s also a lounge area and dining table, and even a fold-out chair for Piko.
They’ve furnished the space with handmade pieces made from recycled materials, like a shelf made of old spanners. The kitchen bench-tops and cupboards are made from “a cross-section of power poles, all sliced into planks.” The bedroom sits in a small raised loft above the front of the truck, decorated with cut-outs of old musical songbooks. They store their clothes in a rotating cupboard with automatic lighting, beneath the entrance to the bedroom.
Two turrets open out at the back of the van, each featuring a composting toilet, a functioning shower and washing machine. Water is heated by a combination of solar panels, gas, and a fireplace. Rainwater is captured and stored on the roof, which also serves as a beautiful balcony complete with a hammock and bathtub. They literally have everything they need in the small truck, even an old sewing machine.
“These things will just keep changing all the time,” Justin explained. “As we develop and come up with more ideas, we find space for them.”
When they’re traveling, the entire castle and all its features fold in neatly, into a compact, tidy package. The roofs are retractable, the sides of the walls fold in, the turrets rotate inwards, and they’re all set to hit the road. The special house meets all the minimum road clearances, so it’s very easy to travel with.
Traveling usually involves lots of sacrifices in terms of material comforts, but Justin and Jola have truly managed to blend in the best of both worlds!