Italian architect Renzo Piano's new Diogene cabin is a tiny shelter with just enough space for one person to live and sleep. So it's fitting that it's named after Diogenes of Sinope, an ascetic Greek philosopher who notoriously slept in a large ceramic jar in a town square and begged for his food. The cabin, which was recently built on the Vitra Campus in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany, has about 80 square feet of floor space -- enough space for a bed, a chair and a small table.
About a decade ago, Piano started developing plans for a minimalist home. He had been interested in the concept since his student days, and he began doing the work on spec, without a specific client. That concept ultimately developed into Diogene, a two-meter-by-two-meter cabin that is meant not as emergency housing, but instead as “a voluntary place of retreat.”
The cabin is made from wood and the exterior is coated with aluminum paneling. Inside, it features a pull-out sofa and a folding table that’s stored beneath the window. Behind a partition there is a shower, a toilet, and a small kitchen. The self-sufficient cabin features photovoltaic solar panels, natural ventilation, and triple glazing. Water is provided by a rainwater retention tank. The simple home is also very portable, and it can be easily loaded onto a truck and relocated.
As for possible uses, Vitra suggests the Diogene cabin could be used as a small office or workplace, or that several of them could be erected in a cluster to be used as hotel cottages. “Diogene is so small that it functions as the ideal retreat, but purposely does not cater for all needs to the same extent. Communication, for instance, will take place elsewhere – and thus Diogene also invites you to redefine the relationship between the individual and society.”