AG Cabin Design

MONOCAB OWL is supported by:

  • Prof. Hans Sachs

    TH OWL - Teaching area CAAD

  • Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Ulrich Nether

    TH OWL - Department Detmold School of Architecture and Interior Design

Info about the cabin design working group

New mobility

Due to climate change, our mobility will change drastically in the coming years. A key role here lies not only in the much-discussed new drive technologies and their energy supply, but also in particular in more holistic and sustainable design approaches, more environmentally compatible manufacturing processes, and innovative and comprehensive mobility concepts. In rural areas in particular, there is still a lack of significant impetus and examples of public, easily accessible, individualizable and, above all, more sustainable mobility options.

Cabin design

The MONOCAB focuses holistically and comprehensively on new impulses and possibilities in the field of sustainability. The cabin of the vehicle is made of so-called NFK - natural fiber composites. The mold construction of the outer shell, which is developed with our partner Greenboats in Bremen and manufactured there, is based on flax fibers in combination with natural resins, which replace conventional chemical resins to the greatest possible extent. The interior of the cabin is largely manufactured on the basis of natural resources. In addition to cork, which is also used in the outer shell as a stabilizer and damper, organic materials such as wood, cellulose, natural textiles, and recycled plastics play the main role in production and equipment, which we manufacture together with our partners Isringhausen GmbH & Co. KG, Aunde , Becker KG and Nuo GmbH. Complex components, bonding and materials that are difficult to recycle have been avoided as far as possible and as successfully as possible.

Interaction - interfaces and user experience

The communication and equipment of the MONOCABs is highly interactive. All interior components can also be adapted to the individual needs of the passengers via UI (user interface). Thus, numerous configurations of a MONOCAB are possible to carry wheelchairs, bicycles (also cargo bikes), children, luggage or even freight. The UE (user experience), i.e. communication with the vehicle in terms of displays, lighting and audio, can also be customized. Information is conveyed according to the 2 senses principle and at the same time follows the principle of "Shy Technology". Media, lighting, acoustics and haptics were designed on the basis of personas, user stories and user scenarios. The IoT specialists Mindwalks, EnvueHomburg Lichtplanung and Enger were won as partners of the consortium for the development and implementation.

General conditions and vehicle dimensions

The technical and spatial conditions for the planned rail vehicle specify a maximum width of 120 cm. In addition, the cabin height is also limited to 160 cm above the frame. The technical and functional requirements result in a vehicle length of 525 cm. In order to achieve an overall width greater than 100 cm, the cab must lie asymmetrically on the longitudinal axis (track direction) or on the track. As a result, the load - e.g. the passengers in the cab compartment - is positioned as off-center as possible. In addition, the dynamic counterweights ensure that the vehicle is balanced. The cabin interior should also be easy to use and accessible for people in wheelchairs and for carrying bicycles. To this end, the design was guided and driven by standards and benchmarks of universal design and inclusion. For materialization or production, renewable, recycled and recyclable raw materials were strived for as far as possible. In addition, the principle of cradle-to-cradle in the composition of materials and components was and is pursued wherever possible.

Teamwork at MONOCAB OWL

All steps of the cabin development take place in close continuous coordination with the various working groups, whereby in particular technical-design aspects including aerodynamics, force behavior and chassis specifics are incorporated.
Two key decisions have been made in the development process:

  1. the floor assembly is separated from the car body except for power supply interfaces
  2. Due to the short project duration, three demonstrators will be developed, two as planned as technical driving demonstrators with a design-simplified cabin, which is laid out for the laboratory tests and shows the technology, one as a technically non-functional pure concept vehicle, which presents possible design and usage qualities in the sense of an exhibition model.

(Material) experiments, mock-ups, simulations

Experiments with mock ups on a scale of 1:1 developed the concept of a two-part cabin that can accommodate a maximum of six adults in normal operation. One-and-a-half-meter-wide door openings that swing open toward the platform in the lower part expand the floor space at the stop and make the MONOCAB wheelchair-compatible.
In an iterative process, 3D models were constructed, material samples, design and manufacturing tests were conducted. In addition, alternative designs for the exterior shell and interior, lighting, information and graphics, UI/UX were created. The design concepts were each compared and reflected upon, as well as experienced in the simulation of usage scenarios. For this purpose, physical mockups, VR projections, visualizations, animations as well as detailed tests on a scale of 1:1 were carried out.

Concept outer shell

After a "design freeze" in June 2021, the outer hull was formulated and detailed in terms of design and construction using NFK (natural fiber composite) technology, bio-resins reinforced with flax fibers. For this, the sailing yacht construction company Greenboats, which is experienced in this innovative technology, was won as a partner. By the end of 2021, all details for mold construction had been developed and fixed. The mold elements of the design concept vehicle were simplified for the technical demonstrators.

Interior concept

For the interior of the concept vehicle, flexible seats and functional elements in molded plywood were designed in consultation and exchange with the leading company in this technology, Becker KG (based in the region). Interior trim made of a CNC-processed real wood veneer composite with textile quality from the company Nuo, which was also won as a partner, finalizes the interior concept, which is new for vehicle construction. Upholstery elements and textiles were designed in coordination with the partner ISRI/Aunde, and flooring with Delignit, which is also based in the region. Standard benches from ISRI were modified for the technical demonstrators, and the floors will be transparent so that the gyroscope technology can also be shown during (test) operation.

Concept UI/UX

On the one hand, user interaction and user experience were conceived and designed on the basis of universal design, i.e. all information is offered according to the "two-senses principle" and is designed to be low-threshold and accessible. Furthermore, the concept is based on the so-called "Shy Technology" in which media is used with restraint compared to the concrete. In this way, a highly comfortable, user-centered driving experience is created with the least possible use of resources, combining individualizability and intuitive interaction in the best possible way. Media, lighting, acoustics and haptics were designed based on personas, user stories and user scenarios. The IoT specialists Mindwalks and EnvueHomburg Lichtplanung as well as the company Enger could be won for the development and implementation of the concept.

Dates of the working group

  • 19.05.2022 (Presentation Dörentrup) entire MONOCAB team
  • 01.05.2022 Open day Dörentrup, presentation MONOCAB design, VR/slideshow/demonstrator
  • 31.06.2022 Completion cabin cover NFC
  • 01.07. - 15.09.2022 Expansion demonstrator cabin design/tech
  • 01.09. - 30.09.2022 Structure presentation MONOCAB OWL


Ulrich Nether, Hans Sachs: Session "Future Transportation Design": MONOCAB OWL at the Detmold Conference Week "Design Strategies - Future Habitats" 2021, 16.11.2021 / Contribution: Carolina Meirelles, Maximilian Müh, MONOCAB OWL Presentation

The team

  • Maximilian Müh

    Employees AG Cabin

  • Carolina Meirelles Reis Sotero de Menezes

    Employee AG Cabin