by Neometro

MINI Living || Urban Cabin || Beijing

Architecture, Design - by Open Journal

“Small-footprint living is a deeply intelligent solution, representing not only a spatial strategy, but also a new value and lifestyle mindset.”


21st Century life sees most of us well aware of the MINI brand. Their teeny cars have been zipping along the motorways of our cities since the late 50’s. The establishment of the MINI automotive empire within the British Motor Corporation was a result of stressors on the motor industry placed by the Suez crisis. Fast forward 60 years and we have other lifestyle stressors and this time, rather than impacting directly onto the booming automotive industry, they are creating an opportunity to forge a MINI lifestyle on our very thresholds…literally. 

MINI Living has evolved as a brand through necessity to find new ways to combat the ever decreasing footprint available to urban residential development. Its method is to translate MINI Livings key principle, the creative use of space, into real solutions for how we live, work and interact in our cities. Working with a small footprint in mind, MINI Living seeks to answer these challenges in a way that combines design knowledge with the spirit of experience.

The realisation of the method has come in the form of a small living model, an urban cabin, that has been traveling the world, constantly adapting to the cultural and social ideology of each city through the engagement of local architects who bring knowledge of their unique urban context, since 2017. From London to New York and L.A, and on to Beijing, the Urban Cabin presents small footprint living as an exciting and viable option to continuing the momentum of urban living in a comfortable and sustainable way. 

The 15 square meter inhabitable space, which shape-shifts to reflect the city it travels to, has taken inspiration from the Chinese hutong for its Beijing adaptation. Embracing the communal aspects of urban life, hutongs remain a cultural melting pot where communities thrive and society blends. The Urban Cabin, Beijing, through the work of local architect Dayong Sun, adapts this to a co-living space.

The living quarters within a hutong define Beijing’s traditional architecture, consisting of courtyard houses and passageways, which are treasured primarily due to their unique combination of private and communal spaces. The Urban Cabin has exemplified this notion through design that challenges our perceptions of space and community and cleverly blurs the lines between private and communal space, and interior versus exterior within the metropolitan landscape. 

Words by Tiffany Jade.


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