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renzo piano's micro-home 'diogene' installed on vitra campus
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jun 14, 2013
renzo piano's micro-home 'diogene' installed on vitra campus



renzo piano’s ‘diogene’ installed on vitra campus

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‘…the idea of a small house always came back, because it’s kind of a primitive idea. it’s the idea of basic shelter– the minimum living shelter you need as a human being–then you can go and make many places for collective activity. civic places, places for people to enjoy music, to enjoy university, to enjoy education, a civic center. you can do many, many things; but it sticks, this idea somewhere, this one different image– it’s called silence.’  

 

 

 

the idea of introspection and meditation are made manifest in renzo-piano‘s micro-home ‘diogene’, the smallest building of the vitra campus, but arguably the most replete with ideas. the living space of two meters by two meters, explores the beauty of enough– minimal space for a bed, chair and coffee table– all smartly composed in an aluminum-clad pitched roof volume. the home sits atop and gentle hill and represents piano’s consistency of ideas throughout a range of scales. while his london project ‘the shard’ is the tallest skyscraper in europe, the micro-home is a prototype for replicable system of essential living. aptly named ‘diogenes’ after diogenes the cynic, a philosopher who lived in a barrel to exalt simplicity through action, the home is a voluntary refuge that relishes a life outside of an existing infrastructure. the home is equipped with a highly considered sustainable system- a feat of small scale engineering, what with a system of photovoltaic cells, solar panels, a rainwater tank, bio-toilet, natural ventilation and triple glazing that guarantees total environmental synthesis and autonomy from the grid. the home is a tectonic effort to live deliberately, satisfying only a program of foundational human needs with a simple partition between a living space with a sofa bed and a small kitchen with an adjacent shower. interiors are tactile and warm with meticulously joined planes of wood while the gabled roof and exteriors are humanized with round vertices and a protective skin of riveted aluminum. technical perfection meets a philosophy of ‘walden’-sized proportions, with a small footprint, autonomously generated current and recycled water unit. although the project is a protype that will be tested by a real inhabitant at vitra, the overarching goal is to optimize the complex product for mass production. an accompanying exhibit showed the incredible volume of work, thought and iterations generated for the small building; but not without a multicolored model with a plethora of future units over a green site. this an architecture that teaches through time and draws from those who dwell in its walls.   

 

 

 

renzo piano speaks about the micro-home as a career-long endeavor that was informed by boat making and decades of architectural experience

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the home was prefabricated in italy and lifted onto a gentle hilltop site

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an interior skin of wood is met with aluminum cladding

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in elevation the 20 square meter home sports choice glazing and a solar panel system

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a rooftop aperture follows the language of rounded corners prevalent throughout the prototype

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view of the environmentally conscious building system

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vertices are softened with a riveted skin of thin, brushed aluminum, cut only by triple pane glass

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while the home is small in footprint, lines of site continue through body-sized apertures

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view of the kitchen area shows rolling interior shading devices and streamlined storage

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(left): a foldable workspace takes on multiple uses
(right): a sleeping area is optimal for stargazing with a space-expanding skylight

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the home is lifted onto the pile-driven site

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by employing a time-tested domestic formal language, the micro-home is in dialogue with vitrahaus and the existing architectural eclecticism of the vitra campus

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the building was assembled in italy and simply lifted onto the vitra greenery

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small I-beams nestle between the underside technical system to facilitate easy transport

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after the floor is level, minor adjustments are made to ensure structural integrity

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view of the beam removal

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architect renzo piano stops by during the installation to check details

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the accompanying exhibition showed myriad models, among them a full-scale structural maquette with technical drawings

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exhibit views display an incredible amount of work for the three-year long endeavor

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tectonic palette for interiors

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exploded model view and section drawings articulate the synthesis of technology, material and scale

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full article here

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