Vitra’s carefully curated campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, contains works by Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry, FAIA, and Jean Prouvé, among other top-tier designers. Now the venerable Swiss furniture company has added a tiny prefab house by Renzo Piano Building Workshop to the mix. In June 2013, Vitra unveiled Diogene, a 43-square-foot prototype.
In keeping with the no-frills lifestyle of its ancient Greek namesake, the philosopher Diogenes, the house consists of only one room. A slim, ultra-efficient layer of insulation is sandwiched between the cabin’s wood frame and aluminum skin. “The house is really minimal,” says Vitra project manager Aja Huber. “It’s a life where you have to think, do you want the sofa or the bed?”
The house is more than just a one-off installation: Diogene may be available for purchase within the next year. The factory-built module is sized to fit European height limits for truck transport. “The idea is to have as much as possible produced industrially,” Huber says. She estimates that a unit will cost between $26,500 and $66,400, depending on the location and version.
Vitra has received inquiries from around the world, including from hotel companies interested in buying groups of Diogenes. “We really want it to be more than a prototype,” Huber says.