MINI LIVING and FreelandBuck make the most out of minimum space

June 2018

An unused attic space in downtown LA has been transformed into a micro-cabin as part of MINI Living’s longstanding research into the way our living conditions are changing, and more importantly, how we can adapt to them. 

The Urban Cabin in LA is the third installment in this MINI Living initiative, following cabin stops in both London, in cooperation with Sam Jacob, and New York, created with Bureau V. 

For its LA offering, MINI Living teamed up with local architectural design practice FreelandBuck. The brief was simple: to build a structure that provides a flexible living space. But the constraints weren’t so straightforward, as the task had to be carried out on a site measuring less than 15m2.

Being local to the area, the practice – made up of architects David Freeland and Brennan Buck – knew that its design had to respond to the downtown setting. In doing so, it followed the idea of creating an ‘urban oasis’, complete with a hanging garden, as well as perforated areas that let in ample air and light. 

Structurally, it was important that the cabin had some form of flow. Efficiency within a small space was, of course, a priority, but unlike previous cabins, the LA prototype expands the cabin’s domestic purpose to include a more public space that ‘enhances the collective experience’. 

The middle of the cabin serves this purpose, while either side houses the practical spaces including a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom – after all, this is the first MINI Living cabin to actually house visitors overnight. 

In terms of materials, the architects were keen to focus on experimental combinations. The two boxes containing the living facilities are constructed with aluminium framing, before being wrapped in translucent printed polycarbonate.

FreelandBuck’s project marks the third MINI Living Urban Cabin, and there are plans to implement the project in Beijing and Tokyo during the second half of the year. The company is even working on a real-life construction project in Shanghai, which will see 50 apartments set within an inner-city hub.

‘We're working on our own very distinct interpretation of co-living. Our aim is to enable a genuine sense of community, opening doors and creating public space,’ explains Esther Bahne, Head of Strategy and Innovation MINI. ‘Our installations and visionary formats seek to explore a whole new range of possibilities in the creative use of space, and we're now putting what we've learned into practice in the form of real-life construction projects.’

MINI Living was first launched in 2016, with the mission to explore creative uses of space. The initiative seeks to answer challenges in the field of architecture and interiors through an approach that combines design knowledge, experience and interaction.

But perhaps the most important element of all is the involvement of the public, and MINI Living tries to showcase all its installations installed at major design weeks – for example its Do Disturb, Breathe and Built By All installations, that took place during Salone del Mobile in 2016, 2017 an 2018 respectively.

The LA Urban Cabin was installed on the occasion of LA Design Week, which took place from 7 to 10 June 2018.

*This post is part of DAMNº's ongoing partnership with MINI Living 


MINI Living cabin in L.A. by FreelandBuck
David Freeland