Re-imagining Urban Living: MINI LIVING Urban Cabins

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You may remember our previous post from this past winter when we went to Iceland for Design March. We saw a presentation by experiential designers, Anton and Irene, about living in small spaces efficiently and the concept behind what we would be comfortable sharing in a communal living complex. This theme has stuck with us ever since and got us thinking not only about the beautiful pieces we put in our home but in what way we live and in what way we use our space. 

Needless to say, we were more than curious when we were invited to discover the MINI LIVING Global Village project and living experiment ourselves in Los Angeles and Beijing this past year. As young creatives living in urban cities ourselves, we can attest to and agree with the idea that rising rents, smaller spaces, higher population density, and pollution in our cities are leading to a massive decrease in the quality of living. We want the opportunities, connections and cultural offerings of living in urban metropolises but at what cost does this come? It's a recurring question which has been on my mind a lot this past year.

The MINI LIVING Urban Cabin and Global Village project not only tackles these ideas but addresses how to use small spaces more efficiently and creatively. With the hyper-connectivity of our generation, as well as globalization - we see our cities starting to look more and more alike and the erosion of local influence and tradition in architecture and living. The idea behind the project is to take a 15m2 inhabitable footprint and transform it with a local architect, as it moves city-to-city, to reflect the local needs, culture, and environment.

During a recent trip to rural Japan, where the configuration of space and the home varied vastly from the way we treat our dwelling areas back in Europe or in the States - I was reminded of what was at stake, as our cultures and cities become more and more alike. After visiting Los Angeles and Beijing to experience two of the four MINI LIVING Urban Cabins in person, I am even more convinced of this very relevant concept and hope it will lead to even bigger discussions on how we use space creatively and how we create space based on local culture. 

I would love to hear how you think this could apply in your city.

Let's have a look at how the 15m2 MINI LIVING Urban Cabin which has been tailored and translated by local architects to fit cultures in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Beijing. We'll also have a look at the next phase of the program, which will actualize all of these concepts by creating a functional co-living building complex in Shanghai in spring 2019. 


November 7, 2018

London, New York, Los Angeles, Beijing, Shanghai

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The first Urban Cabin was presented in 2016 in London at the London Design Festival. Local architecture firm,  Sam Jacob Studio translated the space based on London's character to include a shared kitchen, a nod to the importance of food markets in modern culture, and a micro-library where visitors were encouraged to share books in a city where the number of public libraries is falling every year.


New York

In New York, a city which historically has been bound to the idea of welcoming immigrants to the United States, local architects Bureau V transformed the 15m2 shell into a playful and interactive space which provides valuable informational resources for contemporary migrants to the city. Set in the industrial seaside Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint - the architects created a space-saving Urban Cabin including a hanging library using a system of ropes and pulleys as a reference to the neighborhood's dockyards and the unloading systems installed there. 


Los Angeles

Set atop an industrial factory and against a sherbet-colored sunset in Downtown Los Angeles, the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin here has been transformed to put an emphasis on integrating the outside-indoors and harnessing light. Local architecture studio, FreelandBuck put a thematic focus on the fact that people in LA live a life which is very much connected to nature but where they have to leave the city to experience it. With that in mind, they wanted to create a space which integrates nature by having walls which extend out to create an indoor/outdoor table and a semi-transparent middle room to allow the area to be drenched with natural light.



For the fourth iteration of the project, we had the opportunity to go to China for the very first time to see the last transformation of the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin. This time inspired by and reflecting on Beijing's historical living concept of the ‘Hutong,' local architecture Studio Penda aimed to combine private and public space. Since the 1990's, the hutong - or traditional Chinese courtyard residence which combines both private and public space via apartments with connected courtyards and meeting spaces, have been on the decline due to rapid expansion and scarcity of city space. Building on these collective memories, Penda aimed to create a space which encourages and fosters the tradition of communal living and exchange in a modern space.



Launching in 2019, we will see the previous MINI LIVING concepts proposing new ways of living in urban metropolises around the world, put into action in a co-living complex in Shanghai. With rising rents, high urban density and the lack of alternative living offerings, the project aims to create efficient living spaces aimed at connecting people with each other. The project will be realized through a multilayered living space comprised of a series of apartments, communal work, and leisure spaces. A cluster of six buildings will be turned into a vibrant urban neighborhood in the popular Jing An district in the heart of the city. 

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This article was crafted as part of a sponsored partnership with MINI LIVING. All of our sponsored content is carefully curated and tailored for relevance and to fit our community's interests.

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