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High Tech Self Sufficient Tiny Houses by Renzo Piano

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It’s assuring to know that one of TIME’s top 100 most influential people in the world has planted his prints in the tiny house community.

This man is an Italian prize winning architect by the name of Renzo Piano who has created his own high tech self sufficient tiny house prototype.

He is known for creating some of the most magnificent structures around  the world including the tallest skyscraper in Europe, named The Shard.

The ShardNow when you hear his credentials I’m sure you assume that his tiny house probably wouldn’t be so tiny. 300 square feet maybe? Definitely not less than 200, right?

Guess again. Piano’s tiny house project, dubbed ”Diogone” is a wooden saddle-roofed house that has a surface area of 2.4 x 2.4 meters and a ridge height of 2.3 meters. Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s just around 62 square feet!

I’m sure you’re wondering, “How did the same man who built something as large as The Shard (Europe’s tallest skyscraper) turn around and decide to build a tiny house that sounds like it might even be too small for people like you and me, who are tiny houses enthusiasts?

Well, this is not no regular tiny house because ”Diogone” was designed to function in various climate conditions as a self sufficient system that collects its own water and even supplies its own power.


Photo Credit: Vitra Magazine

Come inside for more information and photos of this inspiring design. (Yes, we have a photo of the interior to show you below)

“Diogene provides you with what you really need and no more.”- Renzo Piano


Photo Credit: Vitra Magazine

Renzo Piano explains more below in Vitra Magazine.

Diogene is equipped with everything you need for living. The front part serves as a living room: On one side, there is a pull-out sofa; on the other, a folding table under the window. Behind a partition, there are a shower and toilet as well as a kitchen, which has also been reduced to the necessary. The house and furnishings form a single unit. It is constructed from wood with a warm character, which also defines the interior.For the purpose of weather protection, the exterior is coated with aluminium paneling. The overall shape and saddle roof resemble the archetype of a house, but its rounded-off corners and the all-over facade materials also give the impression of a contemporary product. It is no simple hut, but instead a technically perfect and aesthetically attractive refuge. The great challenge lies in planning the complex product so that it is suitable for industrial series production. “This little house is the final result of a long, long journey partially driven by desires and dreams, but also by technicality and a scientific approach,” explains Renzo Piano.


Vitra magazine on how the house was perfectly manufactured in order to be self sufficient:

Whereas “Diogene’s” exterior corresponds to the image of a simple house, 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. –Vitra Magazine


It really makes me happy to see that one of Italia’s most renowned architects recognizes the benefit tiny houses can have in society today:

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.


What do you think about Renzo’s tiny house design? Do you think it has a future in the tiny house community? Would you like it to?

I am totally amazed by how innovative and tiny this structure is and how it managed to fit every real need of a human with the aid of technology and the mastermind designer Renzo Piano.

According to Vitra, it will be available in 2014. I wonder how expensive it will be? What would you guess the price range will be for it?

Here is more information along with a phone number if you want more information on the Diogene design. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on the comments below.


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 27 comments… add one }
  • June 21, 2013, 10:26 am

    9.8 by 8.2 ft 80sqft almost the size of an Epu. Without the added benefit of a
    sleeping loft.
    The tour of the design room where all the pieces are displayed must be worth the trip.
    Water cistern below the house !

  • Erik Markus
    June 21, 2013, 4:35 pm

    There are lots of wonderful, inspiring, comforting, affordable, livable tiny house designs.

    This isn’t one of them.

    I’m always on the look out for mockers of the TH movement, or any new idea for that matter. You know, the entrenched corporatists who are smart enough to know that a new idea is a good one, and one that will be easy enough for people to adopt, but they know people are on the fence or uneducated about. They also know what it would do to their own industry when it takes hold.

    So they mock it by talking it down (Obama care, for example) or they design a product that is similar, but riddled with design flaws or lacking crucial parts that would give a product/concept longevity (GMs EV1).

    Look at this thing. It looks like a 1950s mobile home (the basis for rational dislike of mobile housing in the U.S.), it even appears to have ONE of it’s doors from such a home. The aluminum skin, the rounded windows, the mismatched doors…. get real.
    It appears to have a squirrel cage fan from a forced air furnace, screwed to the roof. (?)
    a skylight that takes up half the roof ! is this a house or a solar oven?
    Is there a kitchen and bath? hmm. I’ve found most people prefer those “necessities”, but whatever…

    And where are the wheels that will allow a tiny house to: escape fires, floods, hurricanes, tsunami, tornadoes, provide cushion in the event of an earthquake, and simply allow moving from one place to another?

    Hi-tech is a dirty word. It implies costly and maintenance head-ache. A successful tiny houser does not need or want such garbage.
    To the slime-ball corporatist who paid for this design, we’ll move it into your gated community and lock the gates on the way out.

    Just because a “world famous” person or “certified” architect designed something, doesn’t mean anything TODAY. If this guy was given $50,000 (pocket change) by a slime-bag corporatist with a large investment in a toll brothers type builder, I’m sure he would design what his client requested. If that same corporatist paid certain magazines to run stories about said house, they too, would most likely accept that check and run the story because on the surface, there is similarity.

    There are lots of “wonderful” and “refreshing” UN-LIVABLE architect designed “homes” filling the pages of glossy magazines.

    Look at the crap that was put out in the 1960s. Mostly designs that were created to further energy usage. Anything that would require large volumes of space that needed heating and cooling, and had minimal insulation and large expanses of uninsulated windows. hmm. I wonder who paid for all that advertising? hmmm.? Of course, McMansions…. yeah.

    I love the parts diagram schematic. Like you can go to Sears and buy the missing parts and they will drop ship them via UPS. lol.
    home sweet home.

    Hmm. The WORD McMansion is underlined as if it is a misspelling. Looks like the NAR has been working behind the scenes…. NAR members, it’s a WORD. A dirty word. A dirty reality. booooo.

    • June 21, 2013, 4:53 pm

      Wow Eric,
      off the deep end much?
      It is a design study in minimalism. It has a shower,bathroom,and kitchen.
      The design reflects the architects vision of a minimal off grid habitat that encourages living and serving community while giving the basics for shelter.
      Everyone might not find it their cup of tea that does not make it some corporate conspiracy to be driven crazy over.
      Chill. The skylight has shades……

      • Erik Markus
        June 21, 2013, 6:48 pm

        There is nothing “crazy” about calling out the obvious.

        I don’t mince words for the sake of social acceptance.
        Some people find that threatening.
        You don’t like me because of it? Too bad. You have the problem.

        The U.S. mentality has been so corrupted in the last 30 years (period).
        That is NOT acceptable. We can do better.

        What is “crazy” is letting corrupt behavior go by your window without calling it out.
        What is crazy is letting criminals on wallstreet who nearly pushed the World economy over the edge with MASSIVE corruption, go with out a single arrest.

        Yet those who have the Moral high ground, the numerous protesters who want the corruption GONE… there have been over 8000 arrested. (?)

        That’s corruption. Just one example.

        I’m not over-whelmed. I see it. Degenerate behavior to be obliterated.

        What’s crazy is calling someone who serves to educate others about a corrupt concept or idea, crazy. That is also corrupt.

        When I see a wasp, I don’t panic, but I avoid it.
        Same for corporatist scum.

        The house in this article still sucks.

        … you were saying?

        On the snarky side of life- (talk radio spot) “Renzo Piano- We carry all types of pianos. Uprights, players, baby grands, grands, even acoustic pianos all at greatly discounted prices. Come in today! All the top brands. Steinway, Verdugo, Baldwin, Fandrich & Sons, Connor, Yamaha. Come in now while the sale lasts. Selection is limited. Easy Financing and Same day delivery. Renzo Piano. In Niles- Just four blocks east of the 290 extension at Dempster Rd. Or in Schaumburg, 3 blocks south of Higgens and Golf Rd. Renzo Piano, Come in and hear the difference ! Renzo Piano”

        • June 21, 2013, 7:12 pm

          Your Reply only serves to confirm my suspicions.
          I wish you well.

  • June 21, 2013, 4:59 pm


  • Gi
    June 21, 2013, 5:49 pm

    Thanks. The whole self-sufficiency aspect is fabulous. It is my dream to convert my 16’X20′ garage with loft into a tiny home for myself. To be self-sufficient as well is a fantastical dream. The question: is it cost efffective for a senior?

    Each time you send pins of small residences I become more aware that tiny isn’t for me. Small is more realistic – aeththetically, & for personal comfort. Such structures as the Small Luxury Beach House on the lake – is beautiful, as well as
    others you have shared, and now this! Small is good. Small, beautiful, & self-sufficidnt is ideal!
    Keep up the good work.

    • Adina Hirschmann
      November 28, 2013, 8:27 am

      No communications, no deal. Too isolating. I would like to know that if I have an emergency, the ambulance would know where to get me. Anyone can get sick or be stuck in a flood or trapped in a fire, regardless of age. Also, the decor is too cold and stark. The “sofa” is little more than a slab of plywood with some thin cushions on top. The whole ambience reminds me of a sterile little box.

  • Maddy
    June 21, 2013, 7:57 pm

    I love this seemingly simple design. How encouraging that architects are expanding their vision to well thought out smaller designs. Due to my health issues I couldn’t have a loft to climb into so this appeals to me…

  • LaMar
    June 21, 2013, 8:07 pm

    Hmmmm.. I put solar panels, wind turbine and a rain water harvesting system on my cabin years ago and no one ever asked me to build a skyscraper lol!

    I guess it is good that big name designers want to do small houses but I think small house designers need to actually live in a small house so they understand what is really required for small space livability.

    I prefer to see people build their own but it would be good for the business if more products were designed for small homes.

    We need low watt air conditioners and fridges, grey water recycling and water harvesting systems and anyone that designs those for small homes and off-grid homes will be doing us a big favor.


    • Robert
      June 22, 2013, 9:30 am

      You don’t need to go UP w/a skyscraper…your off grid house concept w/ an added community of houses is excellent for certain people. Neighborhoods are good for some TH families.
      2. I also don’t see any real insulation in the Piano house, no toilet, shower, kitchen.
      3. What I do see in the Piano house is a sleek version of a Tiny House with beautiful wood interior that we should all consider.

      • LaMar
        June 22, 2013, 9:34 am

        Yup and with those huge windows and no insulation that house would be an oven in summer and an icebox in winter.

        I think these designers do not realize people want to live year round comfortably and may be in very different climates.

        • toot Sweet
          June 23, 2013, 3:23 pm

          LaMarr I think you’re right about designers “offering” to create your house.More than often they are not far from those pretending to lead your life.I stay suspicious about them especially when they are “famous” ’cause famous architects also design nice prisons.Now the question was about how much this littlt “gem” was going to be.I bet you it’ll be outragously high.

    • Richard S
      June 22, 2013, 6:46 pm

      That’s can be a problem with “big name designers:” they assume that people will feel privileged and grateful to live in one of their creations. The inhabitants become secondary and exist to serve the habitat.

      They hear concerns about livability and roll their eyes and think, “Ha! Pearls before swine! They don’t see my vision!”

  • Robert
    June 21, 2013, 9:21 pm

    It might look okay in an ugly industrial environment, but out here it would be a total eyesore!

  • June 21, 2013, 9:23 pm

    This is a rich person’s idea of a tiny house. A kitchen too small to actually cook anything in, but that’s OK, because they eat out 3 times a day anyway. Self sufficient? NOT!

  • June 22, 2013, 11:54 am

    I am torn. I like that he is giving tiny a shot, and see what he is going for, but tiny retreat is right… this looks more like a vacation rental than a home to me. Not sure why people keep saying there is no bathroom/kitchen, there is, its simply minimal, not nonexistent. Still, I don’t want my kitchen in my bathroom. I can’t really use a loft due to disability so don’t miss that but wonder if it would feel claustrophobic plus don’t like the lack of storage. I don’t need much storage but I do need some. I prefer tiny homes with multifunctional furniture, storage in unexpected places, etc.

    On the up note I like the triple glazes skylight with shade, water collection/ storage ideas, and solar use. But as far as high tech meeting tiny, I was disappointed

  • Lambert Lorette
    June 24, 2013, 5:44 am

    Interesting to make it self-sufficient, a small version of the “earthship”: neat.

  • alice h
    June 24, 2013, 10:24 am

    It specifically says it’s not a full time dwelling and once you wade through the grandiose bumf it basically says it’s a temporary shelter (or even a backyard shed) and says flat out that the kitchen and bathroom are minimal on purpose. Not my style but nice enough in some ways and will certainly appeal to the more modern design afficionados. I can actually see it working well as a remote survival/relaxation hut. I don’t really see why there should be such strong negative reactions in some people. Why criticise an apple for not being an orange? It’s a perfectly acceptable apple. It could inspire someone else’s home, something more suited to that person’s life. It is fully in line with modern Italian design and fulfills it’s design objectives.

    Had to snicker when reading the facebook comment from OZ about faux-federation, although I must admit that is more my style. I’m sure it will be well beyond my price range, but then so is a lot of other stuff.

    • alice h
      June 24, 2013, 10:33 am

      I mean actual Federation style is more my type than the Faux Federation!

    • MotherLodeBeth
      July 23, 2013, 2:51 pm

      ‘says it’s not a full time dwelling’ which makes me ask, why would any one pay 45k for a part time dwelling?

  • July 11, 2013, 6:30 pm

    I like that it’s hi-tech but still homey. And I also like that it’s not afraid to seek out it’s own expression. Tiny houses should have the freedom to be their own genre. They don’t have to look like a shrunk down version of a full size house.

  • MotherLodeBeth
    July 23, 2013, 2:48 pm

    Anyone who would pay 45k for that tiny house simply proves the adage ‘a fool and their money are soon parted’ to be true. It’s sparce, cold and little else.

    There are many many more well thought out 100% off the grid tiny house designs from from folks here in the states, that cost less than 20k and less than 10k and even 5k (here in CA).

    I caution people all the time that more money for a tiny house does not always equal and better designed or functioning tiny house. And even more so as more jump on the tiny house bandwagon folks looking to make lots of money come along. Sad.

  • Conner
    October 27, 2015, 11:30 am

    I think it looks cool, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for long term living and it doesn’t really have that cozy little cabin feel. But if you added some pictures on the walls and made it less “white washed” it would be nice. It might be better if someone put it on a truck chassis. It would look like a modern box truck house.

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