The concept drew inspiration from traditional Beijing housing styles, as well as incorporating modern ideas which look to find innovative solutions for quality city living where space is at a minimum.
Developed in co-operation with local architect Dayong Sun, the temporary living space covers just 15m², yet its designed space provides flexible living options, giving lots of possibilities.
A real focus of the MINI Living Urban Project is to reflect the local identity and culture of the specific location each destination the Urban Cabin visits. After stops in London, New York and Los Angeles, Beijing is the latest source of inspiration for the project.
The project’s central theme was to explore how space can be used in an innovative way to create a new sense of community and maximise quality of living on a minimum surface area.
MINI Living was established in 2016, with an aim to develop novel residential concepts for urban conurbations across the globe. The shortage of space and high prices often found in big cities have been taken into consideration when developing the MINI Living Urban Cabin, as well as providing a desirably flexible space that has an essence of local identity and encourages communal interaction. These diverse aspects have been achieved by applying the ‘creative use of space’ principle which was first developed for the classic MINI in the field of automotive design, which has now been used in this residential context.
Every MINI Living Urban Cabin consists of three formal elements. The living and sleeping sections on one side of the micro-apartment and the kitchen and bathroom on the other side are designed by the MINI Living Design Team. The third section is defined by MINI as an experiential space with the character of an installation: for each cabin, a local architects’ bureau is invited to fill out this space. The theme selected always has to be relevant to the specific location.
Dayong Sun has created an open area of encounter as a homage to the courtyards of the traditional hutongs. Golden, telescope-like mirrors are mounted above this interactive space, reflecting the immediate environment but also the broader urban context. A swing at the centre of the space provides a playful shift in the viewer’s perspective. The storage and seating facilities positioned around the Urban Cabin are designed in geometrical shapes reminiscent of traditional Chinese tangram puzzles, also acting as an attractive feature for contemplation.
Dayong Sun’s design is inspired by the hutongs common in Beijing’s more traditional districts. A hallmark feature of the city’s architectural history, these residences are made up of courtyard buildings and passageways that are particularly appreciated for the combination of private withdrawal spaces and communal living areas which they offer. This model is now gradually disappearing from the urban landscape as a result of demographic change. The MINI LIVING Urban Cabin in Beijing echoes the underlying principle of hutong while at the same time translating it to the modern age.
Global network of creative residential solutions
MINI Living is focused on forward-looking stimuli for a style of residential architecture that focuses on human beings and their need for individuality, flexibility and community. ’Each MINI Living Urban Cabin creates maximum quality of living within a very limited space in a specific situational context,’ explains Oke Hauser, Creative Lead MINI Living.
The various interpretations of the MINI Living Urban Cabin concept demonstrate the creative possibilities offered by micro-apartments. This has made them the forerunner to the first co-living project in China, which is to be opened in Shanghai in 2019. Here MINI is collaborating with Chinese project developer NOVA Property Investment Co to convert an unused industrial complex in the Jing’An district into a multi-dimensional facility consisting of apartments and work spaces as well as cultural and leisure facilities. In addition to the creative use of space, the concept offers residents maximum flexibility with residential units of varying sizes and a vibrant urban neighbourhood. This creative combination of personal privacy and opportunities for communal interaction is supplemented with an extensive range of digitally bookable services, thereby establishing a whole new level of living quality in the urban setting of a modern city.