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China’s first co-living project is addressing a pressing urbanisation problem

Mini Living recognises the lack of ‘attractive living spaces’ in urban China, so it’s come up with an innovative solution that combines space with digital services.

China has more than 600 cities, more than any other country in the world. And people are flooding to them – nearly 500 million Chinese villagers, in fact, have moved to cities over the last 35 years. Another 400 million are expected to join them over the next two decades.

Developers have responded by building more homes, but one problem has persisted: a shortage of attractive, forward-thinking living spaces. That could be about to change, however, with the launch of the country’s first co-living project.

In Shanghai’s Jing’An district lies an abandoned industrial complex. Soon, though, this former paint factory will be transformed into a complex of apartments, shared work spaces and leisure facilities. Residents will even have access to shared vehicles.

The complex is being developed by car brand Mini – specifically Mini Living, a research project exploring how innovative design can support cities – and Nova Property Investment, a Chinese developer.

“Back in 1959 the classic Mini was already maximising the experience available within a very small footprint,” said BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer. “Our aim here is to offer an extremely high quality of life within an extremely small area.”

While the apartments have small surface areas, the idea is that anything that doesn’t fit inside can be accommodated in the complex’s adjacent spaces. Lobbies, for example, will act as de facto living rooms, while play areas will take the place of play rooms.

Aside from the space itself, the Jing’An complex will come with a range of services. And they’ll all be accessed digitally – from making restaurant reservations and ordering in food to booking a cleaner.

Construction work is expected to begin before the end of 2017.