Architecture

Diogene micro home pushes the boundaries for off-the-grid tiny living

Diogene micro home pushes the ...
Italian architect Renzo Piano has gone from building Europe’s tallest building (the Shard in London) to one of its smallest (Photo: Vitra)
Italian architect Renzo Piano has gone from building Europe’s tallest building (the Shard in London) to one of its smallest (Photo: Vitra)
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Italian architect Renzo Piano has gone from building Europe’s tallest building (the Shard in London) to one of its smallest (Photo: Vitra)
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Italian architect Renzo Piano has gone from building Europe’s tallest building (the Shard in London) to one of its smallest (Photo: Vitra)
Italian architect Renzo Piano has created the Diogene micro unit (Photo: Vitra)
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Italian architect Renzo Piano has created the Diogene micro unit (Photo: Vitra)
Diogene model provides the simplest comforts for one person without leaving anything out (Photo: Vitra)
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Diogene model provides the simplest comforts for one person without leaving anything out (Photo: Vitra)
The Diogene measures 3 by 2.5 meters (9.8 by 8.2 ft) and is suited for single occupancy (Photo: Ariel Huber/Vitra)
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The Diogene measures 3 by 2.5 meters (9.8 by 8.2 ft) and is suited for single occupancy (Photo: Ariel Huber/Vitra)
Building of the Diogene in Turin (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
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Building of the Diogene in Turin (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
View from inside the Diogene micro house (Photo: Ariel Huber/Vitra)
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View from inside the Diogene micro house (Photo: Ariel Huber/Vitra)
The roof is fitted with solar panels, which provide the home with enough electricity all year round (Photo: Ariel Huber/Vitra)
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The roof is fitted with solar panels, which provide the home with enough electricity all year round (Photo: Ariel Huber/Vitra)
The single-occupancy unit has been added to the gardens of the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany (Photo: Ariel Huber/Vitra)
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The single-occupancy unit has been added to the gardens of the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany (Photo: Ariel Huber/Vitra)
The Diogene micro-structure is made from a lightweight yet durable shell that can withstand a wide range of temperature variants (Photo: Vitra)
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The Diogene micro-structure is made from a lightweight yet durable shell that can withstand a wide range of temperature variants (Photo: Vitra)
The Diogene micro home would make a great backyard office, nature retreat or studio (Photo: Julien Lanoo/Vitra)
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The Diogene micro home would make a great backyard office, nature retreat or studio (Photo: Julien Lanoo/Vitra)
All the pieces of the Diogene puzzle (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
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All the pieces of the Diogene puzzle (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
The bearing shell has been built using cross-laminated cedar timber panels with a thin aluminum exterior coating (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
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The bearing shell has been built using cross-laminated cedar timber panels with a thin aluminum exterior coating (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
Diogene by Renzo Piano (Photo: Julien Lanoo/Vitra)
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Diogene by Renzo Piano (Photo: Julien Lanoo/Vitra)
Living area cross section (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
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Living area cross section (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
Utilities area cross section (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
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Utilities area cross section (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
Diogene spatial plan (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
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Diogene spatial plan (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
Diogene sketch by Renzo Piano (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
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Diogene sketch by Renzo Piano (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
Italian architect Renzo Piano (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
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Italian architect Renzo Piano (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

Italian architect Renzo Piano has gone from building Europe's tallest building (the Shard in London) to one of its smallest. Finally completing his career-long dream of building a micro house that only measures 7.5 sq m (81 sq ft), Piano's single-occupancy unit has been added to the gardens of the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Dubbed "Diogene," the small structure is named in honor of the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, who was said to have abandoned all worldly luxuries and conventions for the simplicity of living in a large ceramic jar.

While it's hard to imagine how a unit that measures 3 by 2.5 meters (9.8 by 8.2 ft) can be big enough to be called a home, the Diogene model provides the simplest of comforts for one person without leaving anything out. The micro home features a living area which comes equipped with a foldaway desk and chair, sofa bed and recessed storage boxes. A separated utilities space features a composting toilet, shower plate and a small kitchen unit with built-in sink and refrigerator.

What really makes this tiny home functional, however, is the amount of storage space. Storage units have been incorporated throughout the entire unit – they are built into the walls, the floors and even the roof. Furthermore, each internal component has been ergonomically designed to occupy the minimum amount of space, and for easy usage.

The Diogene micro-structure is made from a lightweight yet durable shell that can withstand a wide range of temperature variants, including extreme heat and snow storms. The bearing shell has been built using cross-laminated cedar timber panels with a thin aluminum exterior coating, which helps strengthen the structure while also reflecting heat.

A series of sustainable technologies have been put to use outside, above and below the unit, giving the module its off-the-grid status. The roof is fitted with a boiler tank and solar panels, which provide the home with hot water and enough electricity to power the interior LED lights, electric stove and small refrigerator. Rainwater is collected and stored in special containers positioned underneath the house. The water is then filtered, pumped and used for the shower and kitchen.

Utilities area cross section (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)
Utilities area cross section (Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

In addition, the entire cabin has been insulated to keep the interior cozy in winter and cool in summer, and the triple glazed windows (including the large skylight) are all fitted with roller shades. The Diogene home sits just above the ground, so it has very little impact on its surrounding environment and its total weight is just a few tons, thus allowing it to be transported easily, be it by helicopter or truck.

Although the Diogene micro home is only big enough to accommodate one person, it would make a great backyard office, nature retreat or studio. Three different versions of the living unit are anticipated to be available from Vitra in 2014 and we hope the collection will include a bigger version that's suitable for a couple or small family.

The Diogene prototype is currently being tested on the grounds of the Vitra Campus, and visitors are welcome to pass by and check it out for themselves.

Sources: Vitra Magazine, Vitra Campus, RPBW via Designboom

14 comments
Rick H
Two comments: 1) Nice outhouse, 2) 81 square feet is way too much to clean. I'm thinking like 9 sq feet.
Slowburn
As a house fit only for a madman it is nice that it is named after a madman. It adds symmetry.
The Skud
Make it lighter, stick wheels under it and call it a caravan! Should OH&S regulations be concerned about the hygiene worries with the toilet/shower and kitchen sharing the same space? Can you imagine cooking breakfast with the results of yesterday's (or a visitor's) curry binge reeking through that small room? Or escaping into the rest of that tiny space? An exhaust fan would be a MUST!
Griffin
How much? I'm going to guess that we won't want to hear it in cost/sq. ft...
Harry van Trotsenburg
too little insulation, for an off grid house, will be cold in there
Grigore Mitrea
Looks like a lot of fun.It is a pity Piano did not put it on a wheel platform. Involving a crane in the process makes it far less independent. There is learning in the experience of the small house movement in the US.
Barry Dennis
I prefer Diogenes as the "seeker of truth, an honest man." While this design, and many others, are on the road to EC (Environmentally Correct), recycling needs to be further addressed in this and other designs.
Jay Finke
Would make a great mother in law house, or ice fishing
Keith Reeder
We've had something similar in the UK for years. We call it the garden shed...
DixonAgee
Kitchen/Bath in same room. Really? I wonder how that compost toilet will work out in such a small setting. BTW - where's the cooktop? The design would be much more practical - and more honest with a separate outhouse.