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Celebrated Italian architect Renzo Piano, of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) designed a tiny cabin on the Vitra Campus called Diogene. The architect has been obsessing over minimalist housing since he was a student and creating such spaces is a study in “self-moderation,” not a way to pinch pennies. So, the two by two by two meters (6’6″ x 6’6″) living space was born, which is just enough space for a bed, a chair, and a small table. This certainly fits the bill for our backyard offices trend.


Roughly ten years ago, Piano began hashing out his minimalist housing ideas and worked through various prototypes along the way. It wasn’t until 2009, when his final version “Diogene” was published, that Rolf Fehlbaum, chairmain of the Vitra AG, took notice. It took three years of development to create a new prototype, the one that sits on the hill between the VitraHaus and the Dome on the Vitra Campus. While it’s not a finished project, it’s an experimental arrangement to test the waters of its potential.


The structure is very much built as a retreat and one that could function in various climates. It supplies its own power with photovoltaic cells and solar modules, and the needed water is collected in a rainwater tank, and cleaned and reused.


The house is meant to provide you with what you need and nothing more, and that’s just what it does. The front space is the living room with a pullout sofa on one side and a folding table on the other underneath the window. Behind the partition is a shower and a toilet, along with a kitchen.





Photos by Julien Lanoo, © Vitra.


© Renzo Piano


© Renzo Piano

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.