Mini Designs an Eco-Friendly Home

Article by Christian A., on April 10, 2017

Named after its size and compact qualities, we all know that Mini has been making the most out of space for some time now. So, what’s new with Mini, you ask? Nope, not a concept car, or a new Countryman. Instead, it seems like the automotive manufacturer took a break from building cars and is taking some time to explore green living and architecture.

The automotive company teamed up with New York based company SO-IL, to build what they call “MINI Living - Breathe”. The prototype was installed in the middle of a narrow courtyard in Italy for the duration of Milan design week, that was from 4 to 9 April 2017.

This installation, made with translucent white mesh exterior walls, is supported by a modular metal frame, and stands at four stories tall. It can accommodate up to three people and hold a total of six rooms, plus a minimalistic roof garden. This is definitely something we have not seen from Mini before.

Built at only 50 square meters of space, the MINI Living - Breathe’s slim design features spaces for comfort where you’ll find a main bedroom with a dressing area, complete with a standing shower and metal cabinet, and a hammock paired with cushions that acts as another bed. Shared activity spaces include a kitchen that occupies the ground floor, and an area furnished with gym weights. A spiral staircase is built to connect all floors. There is even a tank that collects rainwater and is directly connected to the bathroom and the kitchen to save water.

So what’s with the mesh wrapping? Yes, it may lack some privacy, but think about it, if you live in an apartment that is only a few meters away from the next apartment with windows facing one another, it is practically the same thing. You still have no privacy. But that is not the point here. And here is where the term “breathe” comes in. The mesh skin wrapping is coated with PVC and is supposed to filter and neutralize the air. The plants at the roof garden also serve the same purpose.

What’s cool about this is that the living space can be easily dismantled and reassembled anywhere you want. It’s just like a tent but it’s much more complete. The outer layer can easily be replaced with one that will work best with the climate.

According to Ilias Papageorgiou, co-director of SO-IL, this installation “brings residents into direct contact with their environment”. For Oke Hauser, creative lead of MINI Living, this creation of theirs is like an active ecosystem wherein the space contributes to those who live there and at the same time, it helps with the environment simply by using resources that are essential to life.

Press Release

The MINI LIVING – Breathe installation. MINI creates a resource-conscious living concept on a minimal footprint.

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.

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Topics: mini, italy

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