The micro home, that car brand MINI and architect Sam Jacob have built together, opened last week at the London Design Festival. The urban retreat offers visitors a space to relax during the Festival.


MINI created the 15-square-metre Urban Cabin as part of its ongoing MINI Living project, which is exploring new forms of urban living. The tiny cabin is designed for a future when homes become a shared resource.


Sam Jacob, formerly a director of the now defunct FAT, was asked to make alterations to the cabin, to give it a distinct personality. His response was to attach a mini library onto one side, as a reaction to the closure of many of England’s public libraries in recent years.


Urband Cabin site
Urban Cabin site


The library is made out of a range of materials that are stacked together like bookshelves. Terazzo forms the base, while other layers are made out of expanding foam and translucent acrylic.


“The idea of the library is that it’s actually built in the same way as the shelves work, so the materials are stacked almost as if they were books,” Jacob told “Dezeen”. “It’s almost like a materials library,” he added. “It starts more solid and it gets more transparent as it goes up.”


Close up of the library
Close up of the library


Jacob made other adaptations to the tiny residence, inspired by London life. For instance, a table folds down at the rear to form an informal outdoor dining area, in tribute to the city’s food markets. It extends into the cabin’s interior to create a work surface with storage cabinets below.


The rough textures of Jacob’s library provide a stark contrast to the exterior of the micro home, which is covered in copper panels and copper mesh, to provide reflections of the surroundings. In the inside of the cabin, a diagonal cut in the wooden flooring separates this kitchen space from the other side of the cabin, where a hammock hangs below a skylight. Residents can read in the hammock, while enjoying views outside through folding louvres.


Hammock inside the Urban Cabin
Hammock inside of the Urban Cabin


Inside the library, the shelves are filled with books relating to London – ranging from Mary Poppins to texts by Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic. The literature is selected by Jacob himself. Its purpose is to represent the diverse personality of London. “London isn’t a story authored by one person. It’s many many voices, and allowing all of those voices to be present simultaneously is, I think, absolutely key to maintaining London as a diverse and exciting and engaging and inspiring city.”, Jacob explains.


Close view of the library
Close view of the library


The Urban Cabin is on show at the Oxo Tower Wharf Courtyard for the duration of the London Design Festival. During this time, the mini-library will function as a book swap.