On a hill between the VitraHaus and the Dome on the Vitra Campus in Birsfelden, Switzerland, Italian architect Renzo Piano and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) have set up ‘Diogene’, which to date is Vitra’s smallest building ― and largest product.
“In an interview with Renzo Piano, the architect explains that the ideal of minimalist housing is something which he has been considering since his student days.” says Vitra. “It is a kind of obsession, but a good one. A living space of two by two by two metres – just enough space for a bed, a chair and a small table – is a dream many architecture students share.”
Diogene is not a finished project, but an experimental arrangement enabling Vitra to test the potential of the minimalist house. Vitra is thus breaking new ground: while usually only products which are ready for series production are presented to the public, it was decided to let the public take part in the testing of Diogene due to the complexity of Renzo Piano’s project. Whereas Diogene’s exterior corresponds to the image of a simple house, it is in truth a highly complex technical structure, equipped with various installations and technical systems that are necessary to guarantee its self-sufficiency and independence from the local infrastructure: photovoltaic cells and solar modules, a rainwater tank, a biological toilet, natural ventilation, triple glazing.