Students at Germany's Pforzheim University have recently displayed their work in the school's annual Transportation Design Diploma show. The display included work from the graduating BA Diploma students, MA students, as well as work from the first year students.

The Pforzheim course is considered one of the leading Transportation Design courses in Europe, offering BA and MA degrees. The exhibition showed a very high level of attention to detail and presentation, with highly resolved design solutions. This semester there were 12 Diploma students graduating.

Sven Vollhardt presented a hydrogen fuel cell powered VW coupé, with a form inspired by the transparency and flow of water. The doors are fully transparent, and the fuel storage cylinders are visible through the rear glass. The fuel cells are partly exposed as a visual element at the sill, behind the front wheels. While a complex design, a very consistent form language ties all of the elements together.

Visionair’ by Thomas Rhöm uses ground effect air cushioning to allow a high speed vehicle to travel computer controlled up to 500km/h. The Visionair is a mixture of car and aircraft, mixing the advantages of both (practicality and speed), and is seen as a four-seater for dedicated high-speed inter-urban freeways of the future.

Daniel Simon's presentation was a Zeppelin project called the ‘Djado fleet’, which showed numerous different concepts for floating in air transportation, set against a mysterious and intriguing story about a sub-Saharan Zeppelin cruise line. The presentation included a huge book filled with the illustrated story behind the Djado fleet and the making of the project, reminding of the sort of design concepts one would expect for a science-fiction film.

An elegant Saab coupe design by Sinica Birgljevic was inspired by the aluminium and plastic construction of the Saab Sonnet.

Florian Liese presented his 'Advanced Mobility Concept', a compact Audi sports/off-road vehicle, with a highly sculptural form combining geometric and organic influences.

7th semester students presented their 'New Generation Luxury' interior project, sponsored by Johnson Controls. 3D digital modelling and animation were used to study concepts for variable interior space usage.

The first three semesters of the Transportation Design course are taught in conjunction with the Industrial Design course, and in the 4th semester the students begin to specialize in Transportation Design.

During this semester the students develop their design projects from 2D to 3D using digital models rather than clay, using Alias|Wavefront Autostudio for modelling, packaging studies, renderings and animations. Only in the 5th semester do the students develop their projects with the use of clay models. This emphasis on digital design techniques early in the course reflects the changing nature of the automotive design process.

The Pforzheim Transportation design department is housed in a purpose built 'glass cube' building on the outskirts of the town of Pforzheim. The town has a long history of jewellry making and situated on the edge of the famous German Black Forest, between Stuttgart and Karlsruhe with France just 1 hour away, it is in an ideal location.

The new computer department has 15 workstations with 10 devoted to Alias programmes. The school has a great deal of support from the car industry through sponsored projects and regular visits from designers who tutor students in the various aspects of Transportation Design. BMW, Audi and VW regulary offer internships while Porsche and Mercedes are just around the corner.

Since the Summer semester 2001 the school has a new Master of Transportation Design program (MTD) which is a 3 semester course. A diploma or degree in Industrial design is required for acceptance on this course but students gaining entry will have a certain level of freedom in planning the course structure. The school aims to take on a wide variety of students who will eventually be capable of working in all aspects of transportation design.

Pforzheim University International website:


The Diploma presentation. Saab Coupé by Sinica Birgljevic


H2 Coupé for VW by Sven Vollhardt


'Visionair' by Thomas Rhöm


'Djado project' by Daniel Simon


The Book of Djado


Saab Coupé by Sinica Birgljevic


'Advanced Mobility Concept' by Florian Liese


Semester 4 presentation - design development from 2D sketch to 3D digital models


Sketch by Semester 4 student Oliver Samson


Interior presentation by Semester 7 student Sven Weinfurtner