For nearly 60 years, Mini has been an icon of city streets, and with the latest of five planned MINI LIVING micro apartments, the brand is applying its expertise in efficiency and style to living spaces. The concept was developed in an unused attic in downtown LA in conjunction with local architects FreelandBuck.
Taking up just 15 square metres, the LA Urban Cabin is inspired by the local identity and culture, and aims to inspire construction projects in the area as well as across the globe. It follows designs in London and New York City, with installations at House Vision in Beijing and Design Art in Tokyo planned for later this year.
The MINI LIVING Urban Cabins are also designed to offer quality of living, and are made up of three formal elements. On one side are the living and sleeping areas, then there is the bathroom and kitchen in the second. A third space is described by MINI as ‘experiential with the character of an installation’. Effectively this means the local architect gets to let their imagination flow, provided that the theme is relevant to the location.
The two living areas have a perforated metal facade on the outside and the transparency, lighting, spatial impression and character is said to change during the course of the day. Inside, MINI creates its own look by combining wood with what it describes as surprising, modern materials employing creative use of space, something which definitely dates back to Alec Issigonis’ original automotive design from six decades ago. In this case, it means push, fold, rotate and fold mechanisms facilitate difference needs, whilst there are portholes, windows and fold-out shelves within the Urban Cabin, which also opens outwards – a key design feature in the concepts.
The whole thing is set in downtown LA, where MINI says it has been designed as an urban oasis. For its contribution to the concept, FreelandBuck has created a hanging garden with perforated areas to let in both air and light. In addition, two nested cubes produce a kaleidoscopic visual effect to create an atmospheric interplay of light that gives a sense of being in the countryside, despite the very urban setting that LA provides.
Esther Bahne, Head of Strategy and Innovation at MINI, said: “We’re working on our own very distinct interpretation of co-living. Our aim is to enable a genuine sense of community, opening doors and creating public space. Our installations and visionary formats seek to explore a whole new range of possibilities in the creative use of space, and we’re now putting what we’ve learned into practice in the form of real-life construction projects. In Shanghai we’re currently working on our first hub with more than 50 apartments complete with shared and public space: this is due to open in April next year.”
City parking is unlikely to be included in the design and there appear to be no plans for a Cooper edition of the Urban Cabin for those with fast-paced lifestyles.
The MINI LIVING Urban Cabin is on show from 7 to 10 June 2018 at the LA Design Festival.