In the past year or so I’ve learned how valuable it can be to get away from it all. Working nonstop can be extremely taxing, so it’s great to be able to go some place where you can relax and not worry about the day-to-day. Vitra recently teamed up with Renzo Piano to create a “place of retreat” called Diogene.
It can serve as a little weekend house, as a “studiolo”, as a small office. It can be placed freely in nature, but also right next to one’s workplace, or even as a simplified version in the middle of an open space office. However, it is also conceivable to erect groups of houses, e.g. as an informal hotel or guest house. Diogene is so small that it functions as the ideal retreat, but purposely does not cater for all needs to the same extent. Communication, for instance, will take place elsewhere – and thus Diogene also invites you to redefine the relationship between the individual and society.
Diogene is not an emergency accommodation, but 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. We live in an age in which the demand for sustainability forces us to minimise our ecological footprint. This postulate is paired with the desire to concentrate and reduce the direct living environment to the truly essential things. Diogene might remind one of Henry D. Thoreau, who wrote the following in his book “Walden/Life in the Woods” in 1854: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.” It is no coincidence that Piano also regards his project as “quite romantic” and emphasises the aspect of “spiritual silence” which it conveys: “Diogene provides you with what you really need and no more.”
This sounds pretty perfect to me. I love how this project sounds (and obviously, looks) and I think it would be wonderful to be able to stay in a place like this, despite it’s small size. I think what really matters is where you’d put a building like this. I wonder if it could stand the heat of the desert or the freezing cold of the Pacific north west? Both are beautiful in their own right, and if this “place of retreat” would keep you protected from the elements, then it’s the perfect place to stay.
You can read more about the project by clicking here.