Diogene: high-tech cabin by Renzo Piano for Vitra.

The legendary Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein has been enriched a few days ago by a new attractive building, the minimalist unit housing Diogenes by Renzo Piano (RPBW): the Vitra’s smallest building of the Campus, but the largest product.

The ideal of minimalist housing is something which Renzo Piano has been considering since his student days and about ten years ago, without a specific client, he began developing it. Later, following a complex way the Italian Pritzker architect found his partner in Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman of the Vitra AG. Fehlbaum. Thus was born Diogene, the new high-tech existenzminimum dedicated to the antique philosopher who have lived in a barrel because he considered worldly luxuries to be superfluous. Diogene is a voluntary place of retreat. It is supposed to function in various climate conditions, independent of the existing infrastructure, i.e. as a self-sufficient system. The required water is collected by the house itself, cleaned and reused. The house supplies its own power and the necessary platform is minimised. With a surface area of 2.5 x 3 metres when fully assembled and furnished, it can be loaded onto a lorry and transported anywhere. 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 an “industrial design product” equipped with everything you need for living.. and a is a great reason to visit – or re-visit- this unique, concentrated of the greatest architects’ works, Campus.





1,2 Diogene, cabin designed by Renzo Piano (RPBW) outside view (photo by Ariel Huber) © Vitra.

3,4 Diogene, minimalist unit housing designed by Renzo Piano (RPBW) interiors (photo by Julien Lanoo) © Vitra.

5,6 Diogene, scketchs by Renzo Piano  © Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

7 Diogene, technical plant,  © Renzo Piano Building Workshop.