Are Micro Apartments The Future Of City Living?

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The vibrant borough of Manhattan in New York City is a big draw for young professionals who want to earn a decent living and enjoy its bustling night life and amazing restaurants. Its popularity is evidenced by the fact that it now boasts over 1.8 million households that have just one or two residents. While great, this has led to a severe shortage of affordable housing given that there are only about a million studio/one bedroom apartments available.

In order to try alleviate this issue before it gets even worse, in July 2012, Mayor Bloomberg announced a city-sponsored competition. Entitled adAPT NYC, it invited developers to submit proposals to design an apartment building with micro-units. Per the rules, the apartment should comprise of between 250-300 square feet of living space complete with kitchen and bathroom. And while closet space was not necessary, incorporating one within this tiny space would of course be considered favorably. The prize? A chance to be the first to construct a micro unit apartment complex in Manhattan's Kips Bay neighborhood.

On Tuesday January 25th, the mayor announced and even toured a prototype of the winner. Dubbed 'My Micro NY', the unit is the brainchild of nArchitects who said that their design, which is full of hidden details, was inspired by a cruise ship cabin.

The apartment units, the largest of which is 300 sq.feet are built 'toolbox style' and comprise of two living spaces - One that houses the bathroom and kitchen complete with table that folds into a compact box and another, which the architects believe can serve either as a bedroom, living room, study or even, all three! What's amazing is that the designers have even managed to squeeze in a Juliette balcony (one that does not protrude out of the building), to let in fresh air. Also incorporated inside the ceiling is a storage space, the size of a Volkswagen Jetta booth, that can be accessed using a step ladder.

To keep them super affordable, Monadnock Construction is planning to prefabricate the units inside a Brooklyn Navy Yard and then transfer them to Kips Bay where they will be stacked atop each other, with the help of a crane. When complete, the nine story tall 'My Micro NY' apartment complex will house 55 new micro homes, which are expected to cost about half the price of similar apartments.

While New York is the first one to actually build this structure, Boston is also getting ready to join the fray. The city of San Francisco is going one step further and proposing units as small as 220 sq. feet! Nobody knows if these apartments will appeal to the young people hoping to live in these cities. However if they do, it may lead to many more similar projects not just in the US, but also, other parts of the world. With over 60% of the world's population estimated to move to urban areas by the year 2030, micro apartments such as these, may become the norm, not the exception!

Resources: fastcodesign,archdaily.com

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