Location: Weil Am Rhein, Germany
Architect: Renzo Piano
Design date: 2011
Completion date: 2013
Built area: 7m2
Studio: Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Architects
Partner & Associate in charge: S.Scarabicchi, E.Donadel
Design team: E.Rossato-Piano, M.Menardo, P.Colonna
Photographer: Julien Lanoo, Ariel Huber
Text provided by the architects:
The minimal house
Diogenes is the ancient dream of making a minimal house.
The original idea started a long time ago and arose from the concrete need to build minimal architectures to shelter.
Architectures as shelters, as tools for living and surviving.
The idea then became an attempt to realize that dream of each of us, that of living independently and with the minimum necessary.
In its development, the project has further expanded its objectives and the minimal house has become something more, a small architecture that is easily transportable and adaptable to different uses.
A “basic shelter”, a small essential shell, capable not only of protecting but of offering such versatility that it can be used in infinite variations.
A simple and light structure but at the same time solid and resistant, which can survive scorching temperatures such as frost and the load of several meters of snow.
The work lasted years, exploring all the different sciences that could lead to this result.
The project condenses on an area of only 3 meters by 2.50 meters all that is needed to live, making the most of every space and every energy resource.
Diogenes is a real house, energetically self-sufficient.
The archetypal shape of the house with a gable roof is the one that actually allows to have, in relation to the overall weight, the greatest space, brightness and internal liveability.
The supporting shell is made of cedar X-lam wood panels, which creates a bright and fragrant interior space covered on the outside with a thin aluminum film, which makes the external surface shiny, robust and resistant to atmospheric events.
Between the two surfaces there is a thermal "super insulator" of a few centimeters made of panels containing internal void: this allows a very high thermal insulation with a minimum thickness.
The whole wall package is only 8cm.
The interior space despite being a few square meters seems much more spacious thanks to a careful study of the positioning of the windows, the points of view, the colors and the natural light.
The house is divided into three basic rooms but everything can be transformed and change use.
It goes from a room that can be transformed from day to night use, to a fully equipped mini kitchen, to a small bathroom.
Each internal component has been ergonomically designed to offer minimal movement and easy maneuvering.
The total weight is a few tons and allows it to be transported easily even by a small helicopter, positioned on a mountain or transported as a non-exceptional transport by a normal truck.
Outside, above and below the unit, a series of systems guarantee its energy self-sufficiency.
The positioning and passage of the systems has been condensed into the few spaces and cavities available.
The solar and photovoltaic panels produce hot water and electricity which is stored in batteries that power LED lights, an electric stove and a small refrigerator.
Rainwater is collected in special containers, filtered, pumped and used for the shower and the kitchen.
The organic toilet is used with a special compost without water consumption.
Structure: Favero & Milan Ingegneria
Project management & Cost control: Vitra AG