Renault brings the home to the open road with Le Corbusier-inspired concept car

Renault’s Symbioz concept at House33, designed by Marchi Architectes Paris
Renault’s Symbioz concept at House33, designed by Marchi Architectes Paris
(Image credit: Nicolas Pivetal)

By 1931, Villa Savoye – designed by Swiss-born architect and designer Le Corbusier – was complete. Located on the outskirts of Paris, the stilted structure featured a curved ground floor level, modelled on the turning circle of a car, which meant the owner could drive underneath the house, park and drive out the other side with one simple steering movement. More than just a nod to Le Corbusier’s interest in car design, the house is a shining, white-washed example of the automobile impacting architecture.

Less than 20 miles south of Villa Savoye, Laurens van den Acker – Renault Group’s vice president of design – is standing proudly by his latest creation, deep inside the design wing of the company’s Technocentre. The slick, copper-coloured concept is called the Symbioz – derived from sumbiōsis, the Ancient Greek word for ‘living together’. For Van den Acker, the Symbioz is his Villa Savoye for the 21st century – a fully-electric, autonomous and connected living space for the road that he believes we'll be driving (or being driven in) in the year 2030.

The Symbioz car

The Symbioz has been designed as a fully-electric, semi-autonomous and connected living space for the road.

(Image credit: Nicolas Pivetal)

Despite its futuristic appearance, the Symbioz bears all the hallmarks of a conventional car with four seats, the same number of wheels and a large, spacious cabin. But its purpose and function, Van den Acker insists, goes far beyond that of a traditional car. ‘No longer can we think of car design in isolation from the ecosystem surrounding us... we’re creating a vehicle that's part of one fluid ecosystem,’ he explains. Launched alongside a full-sized house at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the concept shows how cars can be integrated into our lives by becoming a part of the home – storing and providing power or as a mobile, modular living room, relaxation space or conservatory.

On the road, the Symbioz promises a Level 4 degree of autonomy – or ‘mind off driving’ as Renault Group’s autonomous driving chief engineer Laurent Taupin puts it – enabling the driver to switch off, sit back and enjoy the ride. With autonomous mode enabled, the driver can recline into a ‘zero gravity’ seating position or swivel round and face their fellow passengers, a layout popular with manufacturers keen to show off the full extent of their autonomous credentials.

Stemming from Renault’s brand mantra of ‘a passion for life’, the Symbioz car-cum-house concept may be more than just a glossy future-gazing exercise. ‘In our view, concept cars are a promise,’ says Van den Acker. Having been one of the first manufacturers to popularise electric cars with its ZE (zero emissions) range, Renault has a proven history of bringing new automotive technologies to the market. While consumers are unlikely to welcome their current cars into their homes anytime soon, the Symbioz – like Corbusier’s Villa Savoye – is an admirable attempt to bring two mainstays of modern life together in a handsome but practical package.

The Symbioz car

On the road, it can switch between manual control and Level 4 autonomy – or ‘mind off driving’ as Renault’s autonomous driving chief engineer Laurent Taupin puts it

(Image credit: Nicolas Pivetal)

Symbioz interior front seats

Its two front-facing armchair seats swivel round in autonomous mode.

(Image credit: Nicolas Pivetal)

Symbioz car view from above

The Symbioz can act as a home power source, storing battery energy and releasing it during peak usage.

(Image credit: Fernando Guerra)

Symbioz car parked above a room

Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the concept explores how cars can be integrated into our lives by becoming a part of the home.

(Image credit: Fernando Guerra)

INFORMATION

For more information, visit the Renault website (opens in new tab)