The Vitra campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany is unlike any other – you probably recognize VitraHaus by Herzog & de Meuron:
The latest addition to its architecture collection is Diogene, a minimalist cabin designed by Renzo Piano and The Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW). The house represents a unique partnership between the architect and the furniture company, and makes you wonder just how few square feet you could get by living in.
While known for so many large iconic projects, tiny houses have always been a big interest of Piano’s. The planning of the Diogene, which has a footprint of just 2.4 meters by 2.4 meters, was ten years in the making. When Vitra caught wind of the fact that he needed a partner, they made a big but logical from furniture into the minimalist house market.
While they still play with the idea of if and how to put the very functional little house into production, the prototype sits nestled in the grass on Vitra’s campus. The house collects its own water and supplies its own electricity – you could go completely off the grid in this small home, which has Photovoltaic cells and solar modules, a rainwater tank, a biological toilet, natural ventilation and triple-glazed windows.
The large openings on the roof and the large window open it up, let in the light and make it feel a lot larger than a few dozen square feet, making such small-space living not only tolerable, but comfortable. The sofa folds out into a bed, and there is a tiny bathroom and kitchen inside. The little house can serve as a Thoreau-like retreat, a studio, a guest house or a place to get some solitude and peace just outside of a busy household. It could also be used as emergency housing after natural disasters. I can only hope it’s something we can sell someday!