Imagine waking up in an apartment of 15-by-15-foot manages to have everything you need. The bed sinks into the wall, and a breakfast table extends downward from the back of the bed once it is hidden. Instead of cabinets, look up and suspended from the ceiling corners. Company coming? Outside the feces that are stacked like nesting dolls ottoman.
Micro-apartments, sometimes under dorms are emerging in American cities as urban planners experiment with new types of housing to accommodate a growing number of single professionals, students and seniors. Single-person households made up 26.7 percent of total U.S. in 2010, compared to 17.6 percent in 1970, according to the Census Bureau. In cities, the ratio is usually greater: In New York, which is about 33 percent. Boîtes and these are not just for singles. The idea is to be more efficient and eventually to offer cheaper rents.
To encourage innovation, several municipalities are waiving zoning regulations to allow the construction of small houses at selected sites. In November, San Francisco reduction of the minimum requirements for a pilot project of 220 square meters, 290, for an efficiency unit of two. In Boston, where most of the houses are at least 450 square feet, the city has approved 300 new units as small as 375 square feet with the blessing of local authorities, a developer in Vancouver in 2011, became a hotel occupancy one room with 30 “micro-lofts” under 300 square feet Seattle and Chicago have also green light micro-apartments.
“In the foreseeable future, this trend will continue,” says Avi Friedman, Professor and Director of the Research Group of affordable housing in the McGill University School of Architecture. A growing number of people are choosing to live alone or do not have children, says. Within this group, many choose cities over suburbs to reduce reliance on cars and cut travel times. “Many people recognize that there is a lot of value to the city life,” he says.
Friedman calls the new trend of micro-digs the “Europeanization” of North America. In the UK the average household is only 915 square feet. In U.S. the average new home is 2480 square foot home. The National Association of Home Builders expected to drop to 2152 square feet in 2015.
Small lounge has deep roots in Japan, where land is scarce. “It’s just the way things have always been done,” says Azby Brown, architect and author of The Very Small Home: Japanese Ideas for Living Well in a limited space. Three hundred square feet may sound harsh, but keep in mind that historically Japanese families living in town houses housing equipped with 100 square meters and large common areas. After World War II, Japan’s households grew, but not much by American standards. In late 1980 the average Japanese house measures 900 square feet.
Confined spaces require ingenuity and commitment. Think Japanese futon or refrigerator under-the-counter, a feature of European apartments. The Murphy bed gets a flawless makeover on a model of a micro-apartment on display at the Museum of the City of New York. The area of 325 square meters, designed by New York architect Amie Gross, also features a table with wheels that can be hidden under a kitchen counter and a flat screen TV that slides along a rail attached to the incorporated in the shelves. Visual tricks, such as high ceilings and floor materials varied space feel more spacious.
The exhibition, entitled “Making Room: Housing New Yorkers models”, shows some of the entries in a design competition sponsored by the New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The winning team, comprising Monadnock developing agents Housing Development Fund and nArchitects, obtained permission to erect a 10-story building in Manhattan made of prefabricated steel. Some of the 55 units will be as small as 250 square feet. “The hope is that with more supply, which should help with the affordability of these types of apartments for young people or the elderly can live closer to downtown and not have to travel so far,” says Mimi Hoang, a co- nArchitects founder.
Although small, these properties are not cheap, at least not on a per square meter. In San Francisco, where two projects are underway, rents range from $ 1,200 to $ 1,500 per month. In New York, the 20-odd units to tenants of low and middle income starting at $ 939.
Ted Smith, an architect in San Diego, says individual residences would be better served by the group studies efficiency suites with kitchen areas, dining and recreation. “The market does not want small motel rooms to live,” he says. “It has to be cool, hip buildings that everyone loves and says, ‘Man, these small units are wonderful”, not “I think I can take this.’”
The bottom line: Development of micro-apartments is targeting urban professionals who live alone. Quarters may be small, but the rents are not.