MINI Living is an initiative from the BMW-owned car company to explore the future of city living. As part of Milan Design Week, they commissioned us to design a ‘micro-neighbourhood’ in a disused former factory warehouse, exploring the potential of repurposing industrial spaces to alleviate the housing crisis affecting many of the world's cities.
We developed a scenario that fosters and celebrates close collaboration between urban residents and architects, putting people at the heart of the creative process. We created four examples of personalised ‘totems’ – two-storey bespoke pods customised to the needs of a botanical illustrator (yellow), a pattern cutter (pink), a music producer (blue) and an art curator (green), with deeply functional, carefully considered spaces for sleeping, retreating, working and washing. Between the totems are a series of communal spaces such as a kitchen and shared dining space to serve as a meeting place for guests and residents, an auditorium for film screenings and lectures, a communal garden for relaxing and connecting with nature, and a gym, where residents can share personal trainers or yoga teachers. These communal spaces are intended to be an extension of each occupant’s home, blurring the boundaries between public and private. Each totem is surrounded by ‘shells’ – layers of screens with varying transparency and opacity the occupants can use to control their privacy. Personal space and community areas are distinct from one another yet cleverly intertwined, offering residents the power to choose when their dwellings are opened up, and when they are closed off.
Our Built By All installation for MINI Living transformed a vacant industrial space into a dynamic dwelling for a community to enjoy, demonstrating innovative thinking on the topic of communal and small space living that is not about living with less, but about having more – more freedom, more community, more mobility. Almost half a million visitors attended Salone del Mobile 2018, and the installation provided the blueprint for a fully functional version in development in a former paint factory in Shanghai’s Jing'An district.