Mini, renowned purveyor of cars that aren't necessarily all that miniature anymore, has turned its hand to tackling the problem of urban overcrowding. The Mini Living installation at Salone de Mobile in Milan is a concept apartment that uses folding modules to create a shareable, reconfigurable space for inner-city urbanites.

Built around a 30-sq.m (323-sq.ft) apartment, the Mini installation's party trick is a set of clever fold-out shelving modules that form the apartments walls and handle everything from audio entertainment to your dinner. By opening up the different modules, owners are able to quickly set their apartment up to entertain by flipping down the speaker modules, or start cooking for a dinner party by opening out the kitchenette module.

Although the installation in Milan is a standalone apartment, its creators envision it as a small part of a wider micro-neighborhood of similar apartments where neighbors are able to share their modules. While those who put a premium of privacy may shudder at the thought, the design is intended more for those with a sense of adventure who are willing to open up their individual living space with the wider community to encourage new interactions and experiences and engender a sense of community.

Even if you are able to get over the idea of sharing your kitchen unit or entertainment module with someone else, there is one big question raised by the installation: why is an automotive company bothering with an apartment? (Albeit with the help of Japanese architects ON design and the Berlin office of engineering consulting firm Arup.) According to Mini, the concept apartment is a logical extension of the brand's mission to improve the quality of urban life.

"With the MINI LIVING installation, we're looking to be part of a debate about future forms of shared living," says Oke Hauser, Project Manager on the installation. "In the city, more and more people have to share space which is increasingly scarce and finite. We see a lot of potential in this situation for making urban living more communal and reciprocal. The installation combines both sides of the equation within a compact footprint – it is both a haven of privacy and also an interface to the wider community."

The Mini Living installation will be on display until April 17 at 18 Via Vigevano in Milan.

Source: BMW

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