What can you do with an unused urban plot of just 500 square feet? Quite a bit, proposes New York–based firm SO-IL with Breathe, the installation they created in collaboration with MINI LIVING at the 2017 edition of Salone del Mobile.

Inspired by MINI’s two-pronged principals of “creative use of space” and “minimal footprint,” the three-story structure is made of a modular metal frame surrounded by a textile skin. The breathable, light-permeable fabric offers privacy while fostering a sense of connectedness to the urban setting.

MINI LIVING – Breathe brings its residents into direct contact with their environment,” said SO-IL principal Ilias Papageorgiou. “By making living an active experience, the installation encourages visitors to confront our tendency to take resources for granted.”

The structure features six flexible rooms—a kitchen, shower, living and sleeping areas—capped by a roof garden that’s meant to enhance both the user’s quality of life and the surrounding ecosystem. In addition, the roof garden is engineered to capture rainwater to be used from the tap. Another notable feature is Breathe‘s flexible outer skin, which features a special coating that filters and neutralizes the air. The fabric can be easily interchanged to suit other climates should the modular system be installed elsewhere.

“The approach we took with MINI LIVING – Breathe extends far beyond purely a living concept,” says Oke Hauser, creative lead of MINI LIVING, the automaker’s urban-living lab platform. “We view the installation as an active ecosystem, which makes a positive contribution to the lives and experiences of the people who live there and to the urban microclimate, depicted here by the intelligent use of resources essential to life—i.e. air, water, and light.”

MINI LIVING – Breathe will be on display at Via Tortona 32 in Milan through April 9, 2017. A further experiment in the small-living series will be installed at the brand’s New York design lab, A/D/O, during the second half of 2017.

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