Text description provided by the architects. With its MINI LIVING Urban Cabin at the House Vision China, MINI demonstrates how to potentially achieve maximum quality of living within a minimum space. At House Vision China MINI presents the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin in Beijing. The micro-apartment concept was developed for the fair in collaboration with Chinese architect Sun Dayong (Co-founding partner of penda) .
The Urban Cabin in Beijing is now the fourth interpretation of a concept developed by MINI LIVING last year; there are to be five in all. The Urban Cabin provides temporary living space with a high degree of flexibility and lots of possibilities – on a surface area of just 15 m². One particular design focus is the local identity and culture of the specific location in each case.
Architect is invited to fill it out. The theme selected always has to be relevant to the specific location. The two living areas have a perforated metal façade on the outside. The transparency, lighting, spatial impression and character change during the course of the day. On the inside the look is created by combining wood with surprising, modern materials. "Creative use of space" – the core MINI principle – is reflected down to the last detail in smartspace saving solutions: push, fold, rotate and fold mechanisms enable various use scenarios for day and night. Portholes, windows and fold-out shelves also allow residents to make flexible use of private and shared space: the Urban Cabins open outwards– one of the fundamental principles of MINI LIVING.
The approach of the cabins not only seeks to address the decrease in available living space as well as the rise in prices and the drop in living quality that this involves. It mainly provides a corrective for the global spread of more homogeneous architecture and the resulting loss of cultural identity and variation.
The invited chinese architect Sun Dayong therefore wanted in his part of the Cabin to reflect on an essential and unique part of Beijing’s architectural history: the hutongs. The idea of reflection has two meanings for me. The first one lies in physical perspective, where architecture can reflect its history and surroundings. Along with the rapid urbanization process, many traditional urban views and features vanish quickly, such as hutong and quadrangles in Beijing. Besides, the growing resident population leads to the constant expansion of the public spaces in quadrangles, and the new temporary constructions and traditional quadrangles have merged into an organic whole. It is worth our consideration to demolish or retain such urban fabrics. Another meaning of reflection lies in spiritual perspective. The drastic development of the internet has phased out many lifestyles. For example, children today no long know the toys we once played when we were children, as they are playing computer and mobile games now. Therefore, I hope to not only reflect the spaces in my design, but also our memories.
I choose the temporary constructions in hutong as prototypes and use the principle of periscope to allow people standing on ground to enjoy the views from the roof, so they can experience the kind of perspectives of people who once lived in hutong. Meanwhile, I use swings, our favorite amenity in childhood, as the seats for people to rest. So when people sit on the swings and look up, they will see an ever-changing pattern. In doing so, I believe the project reflects not only the surrounding environment but also our memories about childhood.
Composed of courtyard houses and passageways, they offer a connected living experience for their inhabitants as they entail private retreat with space for the residents to come together. The passageways give the community the opportunity for growth and exchange. Due to demographic changes the number of hutongs is drastically decreasing. The cabin is reflecting on the structure of the hutongs while consisting of flexible private sections and a mirror-clad space for the community to gather in-between. The latter is filled with swings inviting for playful interaction with others or self-reflection. In line with House Vision’s theme of “New Gravity” it celebrates the age-old Chinese living concept by providing inhabitants with its contemporary interpretation.