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MINI LIVING works in collaboration with a team of creatives from around the world on a unique vision of the urban future.
How can we all live in the city? The metropolis promises a creative, cosmopolitan life, greater career choice, endless entertainment and an ever-changing social scene, so it's no wonder so many of us want to live here. But now, it's as if the city's popularity has actually undermined its promise. It's getting mighty crowded, and we find we're having to work harder for a piece of the 'good life' we were all promised. MINI LIVING has been working on solutions to this very problem — the challenge posed by urban living in the 21st century. In April 2016, at Salone del Mobile in Milan, MINI invited a team of creatives from around the world to put their heads together at an expert talk and solve the riddle. Architects, designers and urban planners met in Milan during a vibrant week with stunning exhibitions and inspiring events.
Previous attempts made by architects and planners to design a way out of the urban squeeze have gone one of two ways: going up, as in the high-rise tower-block solutions of the early modernist pioneers and their followers; or going out—the approach to planning that begins with the idea of the 'Garden City' and ends in urban sprawl. Neither have really worked out that well for us. Both solved an old problem by creating new ones—isolation and estrangement from our neighbours, a lack of community and connection with the environment. Is there another way? As Sam Jacob of the University of Illinois, one of the Milan panellists, said, 'Cities become liveable when you can connect and share'. What kind of architecture might make this possible?
CONNECT AND SHARE - CAN ARCHITECTURE MAKE IT POSSIBLE?
Jacob and his colleagues were, in fact, sitting in MINI's proposed answer to this question, an installation created with Yokohama based architects ON Design entitled 'Do Disturb'. Not a tower of cubicles or a model for a new suburban ranch, 'Do Disturb' was a comfortable well-proportioned apartment, whose walls could be turned around to let the outside in—to turn the office into a communal workspace, or a private living room into a party for all the neighbours. At Salone del Mobile, theory was put into practice in a series of events designed to show 'Do Disturb' in action.
CITIES ARE DEFINED BY DIVERSITY AND EXCHANGE.
As the name suggests, 'Do Disturb' invites us to rethink or even throw away our usual ideas of what's private and what's public, to think about how much we might gain by opening up the walls of our homes to neighbours, colleagues and friends. 'Cities are defined by diversity and exchange', MINI's Oke Hauser explained, 'and 'Do Disturb' is a design that facilitates this'. MINI's new approach to urban space, and the events that took place in it, offered a model for a more open, communal urban life—a life that includes everything we love about living in the city, while also reclaiming some of what we've lost.