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.

2023 SMG©

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