Diogene: A cabin designed by Renzo Piano and RPBW for Vitra – Diogene is a single-room prototype cabin, a minimalist house of 2.5 x 3 meters that “functions completely autonomously as a self-contained system and is thus independent of its environment.”
Since his student days architect Piano has been fascinated by the idea of a house reduced to essentials, as a place of retreat. With the collaboration of Vitra’s chairman Rolf Fehlbaum, Piano and his workshop (RPBW) were able to develop the concept to the point of this prototype, now part of the Vitra Campus, with an eye towards possible industrial series production.
It is no coincidence that Piano also regards his project as “quite romantic” and emphasises the aspect of “spiritual silence” which it conveys: “Diogene provides you with what you really need and no more.” …
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. To optimise the house’s energy, Renzo Piano is working with Matthias Schuler from the renowned company Transsolar, while Maurizio Milan is responsible for static equilibrium.
Diogene is equipped with everything you need for living. The front part serves as a living room: On one side, there is a pull-out sofa; on the other, a folding table under the window. Behind a partition, there are a shower and toilet as well as a kitchen, which has also been reduced to the necessary. The house and furnishings form a single unit. It is constructed from wood with a warm character, which also defines the interior. For the purpose of weather protection, the exterior is coated with aluminium paneling. … “This little house is the final result of a long, long journey partially driven by desires and dreams, but also by technicality and a scientific approach,” explains Renzo Piano.