The micro-apartment living trend is popping up around the world, in cities where cash and real estate are both at a premium. Fitting a family with belongings into a space that is under 600 square feet, has become a way of life, as well as a competitive challenge for architects and designers.
Micro-apartment living can be comfortable even in a space that is under 350 square feet. Evidently, several cities have minimum prerequisites for micro-apartment living size, and others have no dimension requirements at all. San Francisco and Washington D.C. both allow for a minimum size of 220 square feet, though the City by the Bay states that 70 square feet must be allocated for kitchen and bathroom space.
On the other hand, in Seattle and Portland, there are no minimum square foot constraints. In some locations, size requirements are being waived by government officials to allow for more affordable housing. The adAPT NYC competition, in 2013, was given the go-ahead by, now former, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to forego the 400-square foot requirement, to build micro-apartment units.
New York City Style Micro Apartment Living
Winning New York City’s adAPT NYC competition was the team comprised of Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, nARCHITECTS, and Corcoran Sunshine. The winning group proposed a design of 55 units with the square footage coming in at between 250 and 370. Originally slated for micro-apartment living by September 2015, the units were not ready for residents to move in until June 1, 2016.
Unique to the inspiration of the design was the idea that each apartment would be manufactured as a prefab module by the builder Capsys, at its Brooklyn Navy Yard factory. When the 265 to 350 square foot modules were completed, they were basically snapped together to form the building, known as Carmel Place, located at 335 East 27th St., in Manhattan.
Showing that micro-apartment living can be comfortable, even in a small space that is under 350 square feet, people are aggressively seeking the petite dwellings. As a result, demand is high in New York City for micro-apartments.
Dwelling seekers, looking for these small apartments, were given the chance to apply for the city’s lottery for affordable housing. As a result, the city received 60,000 applications for 14 unfurnished units at Carmel Place.
Out of the additional 32 market rate rent apartments, 17 of the smaller sized units are furnished with transformation designed furnishings that can turn a living room, into a comfortable place to sleep. Fifteen slightly larger apartments come unfurnished. In addition, eight units were allocated for homeless veterans.
Micro Apartment Living as a Convenience and Luxury
Micro-apartment living can be luxurious even in a space that is under 350 square feet. To keep the feel of spacious living ceilings are designed higher than the norm of eight feet. Accordingly, windows that are floor to ceiling to allow for light and air to flow inside. The Carmel Place apartments even have a small Juliet style balcony to allow the feeling of more space when windows are open.
Also, included in the Carmel Place micro-apartment living experience, is what the building calls Ollie, named for the provider of lifestyle and furnishing services. This is where luxury comes in, with hotel type “inclusive amenities and services.” In addition to a gym, a lounge, a storage room for bicycles, a garden, and a communal terrace on the rooftop, residents also receive butler type services. Housekeeping is offered monthly, and those calling Carmel Place home can get other services such as plant watering and grocery shopping.
True luxury micro-apartment living is when the NYC renters receive services, much like country or yacht club exchanges, at other Ollie buildings. Those visiting other cities with Ollie buildings will have access to accommodations, like office workspace, lounges, and swimming pools.
Understanding What Micro Apartment Living Is
In 2013, the Foundation Urban Land Institute Multifamily Housing Councils was granted a research grant from the Urban Land Institute (ULI). This grant allowed for the Institute to gather information to assist in understanding the concept of micro-apartment living.
What ULI discovered is that micro-apartment living can mean different things depending on the location of the dwelling. They found that in a cramped and expensive city, like New York City, a micro sized unit is about 300 square feet. In contrast, in a city that is not as costly and has more space, such as Dallas, residing in a space of 500 square feet is considered micro-apartment living.
Nonetheless, whatever the size, micro-apartment living consists of an open floor plan of a studio, or possibly a one bedroom unit. Included in the dwelling is a shared kitchen with the living area. Certainly, micro-apartment living is a wonderful option in cities that can be very costly for limited space.
By Carol Ruth Weber
Edited by Cathy Milne
Urban Land Institute: The Macro View on Micro Units
Curbed New York: New York City’s Future Micro-Apartment Revealed!
Forbes: Inside New York City’s First Luxury Micro-Apartment Building, Where Units Start at 265 Square Feet
Curbed New York: Inside the Surprisingly Spacious Model Unit at NYC’s First Micro Building
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