MINI LIVING Shanghai. Interieur rendering (State November 2017)

The future of living

In presentations worldwide car brand MINI has demonstrated how to maximize small footprints with its MINI LIVING installations. Now things are getting serious: The first MINI LIVING co-living destination is to be built in Shanghai and construction work is scheduled to start this year.
by Adeline Seidel | 1/1/2018

Few topics concern us more than living and getting along with each other. How can communities be created in cities with millions of inhabitants? How do you create affordable living space? What new concepts of communal living are needed given the demographic and digital changes society is underdoing? If we are to believe futurologists then availability and access rather than possession are poised to alter our previous ideas about living in urban space. In its study “The Future of Living” Frankfurt-based think tank Zukunftsinstitut talks of a new urban cohabitation model “collaborative living” where the quality of living together in cities is no longer defined solely by an apartment’s size and amenities, but by options for using shared living and work spaces and for interacting with others. 

In fact, the future has already arrived: we need only look at China. It is here that the auto marque MINI, which at first sight has nothing to do with the topic of property, has in a daring move teamed up with Chinese project developer Nova Property to realize its first co-living building. As long ago as the late 1950s MINI came up with an ingenious solution for one of the most pressing problems at the time: Affordable mobility with a car that combined great practical features and maximum driving enjoyment on a small footprint. 

Oke Hauser (Creative Lead MINI LIVING), Jerry Shen (Founder of Base, Managing Director and Co-CEO of Nova Property Investment Co. Ltd.), Esther Bahne (Head of MINI Brand Strategy and Business Innovation), Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, MINI, Rolls-Royce, BMW Motorrad, Kundenerlebnis and Digital Business Innovation BMW Group

In other words, more than fifty years ago MINI delivered the best example of a “creative use of space”, a concept that became something like a mission for the brand. As such it is only logical for MINI to address the issue of urban space. After all, one of the largest problems facing society worldwide is proving attractive, yet affordable living space. Which is precisely why since 2016 MINI LIVING has explored innovative living concepts, which true to the brand image offer as much quality of life as possible on a small amount of space.

In a disused industrial complex in Jing’An, an up-and-coming district in Shanghai, a wide range of apartments, workspaces, but also cultural and leisure spaces will be created. The aim is to combine maximum personal flexibility with the best possible use of the available space. Does that sound like some utopian vision? Well, take a look at your own friends and acquaintances, and be honest: Those that live alone or travel a lot for their work barely use their kitchens; they tend to eat out instead. So perhaps in future not every apartment will need its own kitchen but merely the option of renting kitchen space when needed should the tenant want to wine and dine friends at home. And perhaps a bathtub it is no longer such an absolute must-have if you have access to a spa in the building. 

The info graphic illustrates the four zones of MINI LIVING Shanghai: public area with food court and entertainment facilities, residential area with large living spaces and bookable extra rooms, co-working area and the so-called play area, which includes large roof gardens.

The new hub in Jing’An

“With MINI LIVING we are looking to create a genuine alternative within the rental market of big cities. We’re offering a place that adapts to its residents, is flexible, and allows room to breathe. MINI LIVING gives residents their privacy but also enables them to engage with a variety of people. It makes those first steps into a new city that much smoother. The idea is that our residents really feel at home here,” explains Esther Bahne, head of MINI Brand Strategy and Business Innovation. 

The residents of the complex can book additional rooms and spaces if and when they need them. After all, living on a small footprint definitely does not mean doing without for MINI LIVING tenants: Everything that cannot be fitted into the apartments themselves, whether items for activities can be accommodated in the adjoining spaces. And MINI LIVING also offers great flexibilty when it comes to mobility: Anyone who needs a car can book one easily from the residents’ carsharing scheme using a mobile device. 

MINI LIVING Shanghai. Exterieur rendering (State November 2017)

In other words, MINI LIVING is not only about a building. Rather the project developers are offering diverse cultural and leisure options, while aiming for diversity in their tenants with a view to forging a vibrant and sustainable quarter: A multitude of leisure opportunities, services and apartments of different sizes and types are intended to attract single people, families, couples, older and younger tenants alike – whether they only wish to rent for a few weeks or for several years. In order to bring people together and create places where communities can develop money has been invested in public spaces such as gardens and play areas. The generous lobbies, foodcourts and exhibition spaces, shops and restaurants open up the ensemble to the city and form a new hub for interaction in the megacity Shanghai.