MINI’s Fabric House Concept Explores The Limits Of Low-Impact City Living
Half building, half tent, the Breathe installation explores resource-conscious architecture
20What can be done to make better use of space in cities for housing using minimal resources? This was the question MINI took to task for an installation at the 2017 Salone del Mobile in Milan. The automaker partnered with New York City-based architects SO – IL to design a residential structure that could fit in a small space and require limited materials to build.
The result is MINI LIVING – Breathe, a three-story, six-room tent-like structure. MINI LIVING – Breathe occupies a previously unused 164 sq ft courtyard space, which is less than a 13 foot by 13 foot square. The structure is made of modular metal components and the entire exterior is sheathed in an air purifying fabric. Breathe is intended to provide living space for up to three people.
The kitchen and dining area is located on the ground floor. Upper levels contain relaxation and work spaces. Topping out Breathe is a rooftop garden stocked with oxygen-producing plants and a rain water collection and purification system.
Breathe explores the limits of resource-conscious living in an urban scenario. The house is designed to have capability to be disassembled and relocated. The exterior fabric can also be changed out for one that ‘performs appropriately to different climates.’
But there are a lot of realities that this concept omits. First are zoning and building codes which would be basically impossible to get around. Another is security. The increased connectedness to the urban environment is talked up in the press release but imagine no way to screen out the noise.
Breathe challenges the permanence of traditional architecture which does consume large amounts of resources and materials. Although the argument can be made that these building are supposed to be designed to last generations. The installation sure looks cool and adheres to MINI’s mantra of “Creative use of space.” Its goal looks to propose more questions about current urban living challenges than to offer a buildable solution to fix them.