Renzo Piano Building Workshop completes cabin inspired by Diogenes of Sinope
An experimental cabin designed by Renzo Piano has been erected at the Vitra Campus opposite the VitraHaus (Herzog & de Meuron) in Weil am Rhein. The ‘Diogene’ project is an ongoing scheme initiated by Piano around ten years ago when he began brainstorming ideas for a very minimalist volume, modest in size and without a specific client in mind, inspired by Greek philosopher Diogene of Sinope.
After working through a number of prototypes in Genoa including plywood, concrete and wooden versions, Piano composed a saddle-roofed home which he presented in Italian magazine Abitare.
The magazine was picked up by Chairman of furniture company Vitra, Rolf Fehlbaum who felt and instant connection to Piano’s scheme ‘as Vitra does not regard itself as a manufacturer of individual design objects, but defines furniture as an essential part of the human environment’.
After a meeting with the architect in 2010, Fehlbaum provided backing for the project and an updated Diogene form now stands proudly on the lawns in front of the VitraHaus. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the cabin as it is an ongoing experiment into the minimalist home.
Piano’s main inspiration for the project was Diogene of Sinope, a Greek philosopher who shed his worldly possessions and led a life of poverty to express his views on the corruption of society and the importance of virtue. The current form of the Diogene project is a 2.5m by 3m cedar wood structure with integrated spaces for eating, sleeping and working.
A foldable sofa bed is coupled with two rows of 6 thin pillows which can be easily stored during the day. A small wooden table on the opposite side of the cabin is divided into 3 modules for flexible use and a composting toilet provides a sustainable alternative if the cabin is relocated to an area without sufficient water supply.