From Los Angeles to Beijing, the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin gave locals the opportunity to reflect on their city. What does #BigLifeSmallFootprint mean to you? Learn more at
MINI LIVING cabins create temporary homes around the world, from London via New York to Los Angeles and Beijing. They have one simple premise: each starts with the same, 15 m2 inhabitable footprint, which shapeshifts to reflect the city it travels to. The cabins are designed and built in partnership with a local architect, who brings love and a personal point of view on what makes a home in their city.


In response to the many ways in which the quality of urban life is decreasing, MINI explores new perspectives of city living through its four MINI LIVING Urban Cabins. These living concepts stop in metropolises around the globe and provide a temporary home to its inhabitants. On a mere 15 square metre footprint, it offers flexible solutions that bring MINI’s design credo of “creative use of space” to life, all while examining our new, global cultural identity.

The declining quality of life in our cities is caused by rising rents, ever-expanding urban populations, increased density and the isolation of metropolises’ inhabitants. Meanwhile, the world is more connected than ever. Styles and tastes now transcend borders – most noticeably in architecture – and as a result, our cities look more and more alike, leading to the erosion of local, cultural identities.


With the MINI LIVING Urban Cabins, MINI is traversing previously unexplored perspectives of urban living. On only a 15 m2 footprint, they create space for a global identity on a local level. Each cabin is located in a different city and enables its inhabitants to feel at home wherever they are. With the first fully operable co-living hub opening in April 2019 in Shanghai, the idea of this global village will be taken to the next level.

The four different Urban Cabins will be placed in four cities and delve into four locally relevant topics. From exploring the decreasing number of libraries in London with a microlibrary, to Beijing where visitors can enjoy a meditative break from the bustling city streets. Each cabin is equipped with an experience room that is solely related to the specific topic. The room is developed by a local architect who knows his/her city’s needs and desires best and is able to create a meaningful experience here. Each Urban Cabin reverberates with the spirit of the city it represents, and the cabins’ focus theme will be reflected in one of the elements in MINI LIVING Shanghai as well.

Beyond the respective themes that the Urban Cabins explore, the materials used in their construction will also give them distinct personalities. Where the core material of timber provides warmth and a sense of home to the interior, additional secondary materials are sourced locally. These materials give texture, colour and a style that only LA, Beijing, New York or London could create.
Although on a tiny footprint, each cabin maximises the space it can provide to create a comfortable living space for two people. These flexible miniature houses can be reconfigured with a rotation, a fold, a slide or with the pull of a wall, to suit the people who live in it. As a result, the character and feel of the spaces change, shifting from day to night and according to the changing needs of its inhabitants. During the day, the Urban Cabins open up to the city, inviting communication and fostering community. At night on the other hand, they can be closed, creating flexible, comfortable and beautifully designed homes.
On the one hand, each temporary and inhabitable Urban Cabin is a concise approach to a new way of urban living, but on the other hand it is a creative ambassador for open-minded global togetherness – a commitment to collaboration, communication, exchange and dialogue. In line with MINI LIVING Shanghai, the cabins demonstrate how we can create architecture for our shared global identity that adapts to our way of living.


In a world of fast-growing populations and overcrowded metropolises, the housing issue has become an increasing problem. To tackle this, MINI LIVING has taken on the challenge to create new blueprints for urban living. The Urban Cabins series is a quintessential project to showcase creative use of space. It is just one of the projects that the initiative has put forward over the last three years to improve inner-city life, reflect local identities and – most importantly – connect people.
The latest MINI LIVING URBAN CABIN unveiled in Beijing reflects on the city’s rich architectural history – on just 15sqm.
After stops in London, New York City and Los Angeles, MINI LIVING’s Urban Cabin in Beijing is inspired by one of the city’s most traditional living concepts: the hutong. 
As part of the ever-evolving global village of urban cabins, MINI LIVING has once again collaborated with a local architect. This time it’s with Chinese architect Sun Dayong, the founding partner of Penda. Penda has offices in Beijing, China and Salzburg, Austria. They are an inter-disciplinary team of creatives, with a roster of outstanding landscape, installation and architecture projects to their name. 

Until the 1990s, hutongs – traditional courtyard residencies that combine private and public space – were one of the predominant forms of urban living in Beijing. The maze-like passageways and courtyards, interlinking private apartments with public meeting spaces, encouraged community living and exchange. However, the city’s ever-growing population and scarcity of space resulted in a drastic decrease in the sprawling hutongs and a search for more compact living solutions.

The MINI LIVING Urban Cabin in Beijing brings the unique perspective of hutong living into the here and now, while staying true to its small footprint format. Building on these communal memories, the ingenious design reflects well-loved elements of the past in a cutting-edge modern space.

Located just outside the now-iconic Bird’s Nest stadium, the cabin’s central space features a periscope of angled, elevated mirrors. This creates brand new perspectives within the cabin. The mirrored surfaces generate stunning, ever-moving images, where reflections of light, the trees surrounding the cabin and the sky intertwine. A swing suspended in the centre of the space enhances that feeling of changing angles and perspectives, inviting users to look up to the rooftops and beyond.

While high-tech steel frames the cabin, an eclectic mix of materials inside emphasizes the warm and inviting character of the space. Precision CNC-cut plywood clads the interior walls, semi-transparent polycarbonate roof-lights and ceilings add soft focus to exterior views – and golden, mirror-clad surfaces create warm toned reflections. Smart design touches within the cabin include coloured hooks and hangers that can be hung wherever one needs them on the perforated walls, a bed that can be freely pulled outside, and rotating walls to divide the space at will.

This future thinking design underlines the uniquely flexible and multi-functional character of MINI Living Urban Cabins. The moveable space can be opened up to embrace the surrounding community or closed to create a more personal inner sanctum. It’s a modern reflection of the original, sociable Hutong dwellings.
Beijing’s new Cabin allows inhabitants to be truly creative with the way they live.

MINI Living is lead by Oke Hauser, an architect that has previously worked with OMA and Herzog & De Meuron. Oke Hauser will join The Architect Show to talk with Ilias Papageorgiou founder of PILA Studio about the value of human connection.
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