Who knew the car manufacturer could be so clever around the house?
Mini has been dipping toes into the world of tiny living and making the most of space for some time now. The latest non-automotive endeavour from the makers of the Cooper and Countryman is called 'MINI LIVING – Breathe'; a unique home utilising a 538 square-foot urban plot in Milan, Italy. Working with New York architecture firm SO-IL, the home features a modular metal frame with a flexible outer skin, and it offers up to six potential rooms as well as a roof garden for three people to enjoy.
“MINI LIVING – Breathe calls into question conventional living concepts and introduces a creative problem-solving approach for future challenges in urban areas,” explains Mini's Esther Bahne, in a release about the structure. “The installation shows what happens when we view houses not only as a space in which to live, but as an active part of our environment – one which plays a positive role for the environment and the people living there.”
The home makes clever use of vertical space, starting with the kitchen and working upward with three levels of living areas for work and relaxation. Bedrooms and the roof garden complete the top levels. The entire home is wrapped with translucent walls to allow plenty of light throughout the structure, something we talked about previously. We also talked about the lack of privacy such a design offers, but if you choose to live literally between two downtown buildings in a busy metropolis, privacy probably isn’t much of a concern.
It’s definitely a beautiful design to behold, but there’s more to the MINI LIVING – Breathe than just the form. Breathe is the key word here; the flexible outer skin also functions as a filter for air both inside and outside the structure. Combine that with plants on the roof garden swapping carbon dioxide for oxygen, and Mini’s mini-home actually improves the microclimate in the area. And being a portable structure, it can be moved and adapted to many urban locations.
We’re not going to suggest that Mini should quit its day job of building cars, but there is an interesting appeal to this artful urban tiny home created in part through the manufacturer’s efforts. There are certainly all kinds of question to ask about the viability of such living, not the least of which being how it holds up in severe weather. A new MINI LIVING installation is coming to New York later this year, and based on what we’ve seen thus far, we’re very intrigued to see what comes next. Perhaps this one will have a garage.
Gallery: Mini Living - Breathe urban home
The MINI LIVING – Breathe installation. MINI creates a resource-conscious living concept on a minimal footprint.
Munich/Milan. Attractive places to live are in increasingly short supply in today’s cities. And when it comes to those living spaces, the responsible use of resources is an issue of gathering urgency. MINI has teamed up with New York architects SO – IL to present a visionary solution to this two-pronged challenge. The installation MINI LIVING – Breathe is a forward-thinking interpretation of resource-conscious, shared city living within a compact footprint. “MINI LIVING – Breathe calls into question conventional living concepts and introduces a creative problem-solving approach for future challenges in urban areas,” explains Esther Bahne, Head of Brand Strategy and Business Innovation MINI. “The installation shows what happens when we view houses not only as a space in which to live, but as an active part of our environment – one which plays a positive role for the environment and the people living there.”
MINI LIVING – Breathe: living, reinvented.
In keeping with MINI’s adherence to the principles “Creative use of space” and “Minimal footprint”, the installation creates an attractive living area for up to three people on a previously unused 50-square-metre urban plot. A modular metal frame forms the basic structure of MINI LIVING – Breathe, and a flexible, light-permeable outer skin creates the boundary between inside and outside. A total of six potential rooms and a roof garden provide space for personal fulfilment.
On the ground floor, a kitchen area acts as a spatial and social interface with the area around the installation – i.e. the outside of the world. It welcomes guests, brings people together and encourages them to engage with one another. Above it are various living areas, spread over three levels in all, which offer an inviting place to both relax and work. Sleeping areas, a potential wet area and the roof garden flesh out the installation’s upper reaches. The individual living areas are separated by light-permeable textile walls. This translucency allows people in other rooms to make out silhouettes and movements, and creates a feeling of connectedness and togetherness. But it also grants residents a sense of privacy, if preferable.
MINI LIVING – Breathe: the house as an active ecosystem.
However, the installation offers more than an attractive living space: “The approach we took with MINI LIVING – Breathe extends far beyond purely a living concept,” says Oke Hauser, Creative Lead of MINI LIVING. “We view the installation as an active ecosystem, which makes a positive contribution to the lives and experiences of the people who live there and to the urban microclimate, depicted here by the intelligent use of resources essential to life – i.e. air, water and light.”
The MINI LIVING – Breathe installation enhances the microclimate in urban areas. Its flexible outer skin has a special coating which filters and neutralises the air. Plus, the roof garden uses vigorous oxygen-producing plants to further improve air quality and the urban microclimate.
The outer skin is translucent, too. It floods the installation with daylight, ensuring a bright and pleasant atmosphere inside. An intelligent construction on the roof collects rainwater to be used later and taken from a tap, for example. The structure is mobile and adaptable. It is designed to be disassembled and installed at another location. The fabric is interchangeable, and can be replaced with one that performs appropriately to different climates.
“MINI LIVING – Breathe brings its residents into direct contact with their environment. By making living an active experience, the installation encourages visitors to confront our tendency to take resources for granted,” adds Ilias Papageorgiou, Principal at SO – IL.
MINI LIVING – Breathe: Salone del Mobile 2017.
Visitors to the Salone del Mobile on Via Tortona 32 in Milan, Italy, can experience MINI LIVING – Breathe from 4–9 April 2017 inclusive. The fringe programme for the installation has been put together by the brand’s own A/D/O design & research platform. At its home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, A/D/O offers designers, architects, creatives and start-ups a 2,000-square-metre space to dream up innovative products – within an ambitious programme – that responds to the most pressing social issues we face.
MINI will show a further MINI LIVING installation at A/D/O in New York in the second half of 2017.