Long known for its compact cars, Mini has recently turned its eye for space-saving design to the dilemma of ever-crowded urban centers. Its latest exploration in this area comes in the form of a conceptual micro-apartment built for bustling Beijing, with pointed cues to the traditional architecture of the city.
The Mini Living Urban Cabin Beijing was cooked up for the China House Vision exhibition, which canvasses the future of the country's residential architecture. It follows similar Mini concept cabins created for London, New York City and Los Angeles, and as with those earlier concepts, makes explicit references to the local identity and culture.
To that end, the Beijing edition takes its cues from the city's traditional hutong neighborhoods, characterized by narrow laneways and houses with courtyards offering a unique mix of communal and private living. The word "hutong" originates from the Mongolian word for "well" and references a time when ancient villagers would dig wells and then live around them.
In reimagining this for the modern age, Mini designers worked with local architect Dayong Sun to craft a cabin that promotes a sense of community. It therefore has a large wall-less communal area, with golden telescope-like mirrors suspended overhead to add to its open feel.
Seating and storage units around the cabin are laid out in geometrical shapes that reference traditional Chinese tangram puzzles, while a swing in the center of the space adds to the playfulness factor.
The cabin has a surface area of 15 m sq (161 ft) and fits living and sleeping sections on one side of the communal space, and a kitchen and bathroom on the other. It features some of the same design elements seen on Mini's Urban Cabin concept for LA, with rotating wall panels that swing up or around to create shelves and open interiors up to the outside.
"Each Mini Living Urban Cabin creates maximum quality of living within a very limited space in a specific situational context," explains Oke Hauser, Creative Lead Mini Living. "The result is a global network of creative residential solutions in which people all over the world feel at home, while at the same time providing a public space for innovative forms of co-living."
While the Mini Living Urban Cabin Beijing is simply a conceptual look at what future urban life might look like in the city, the company will be putting its ideas into action at another Chinese location. Its co-living village project currently under development in Shanghai will feature 50 apartments with shared public spaces, and is expected to open sometime next year.
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