Design for Living Smaller

Tiny stackable apartment unit

My Micro Design competition winner/Courtesy Office of the Mayor

Apartments and houses in dense urban settings are often unaffordable – especially for young professionals, singles and seniors. A new project in New York City will offer mini-apartments, the size of a hotel room (only 250 to 370 square feet) packed with all sorts of amenities.

“My Micro Design” is the award-winner in Mayor Bloomberg’s competition to create livable, affordable housing in the city to address the current shortfall of some 800,000 units.  The microunits will form a 10-story, 55-unit apartment tower on city-owned land. Each apartment will have a full kitchen, wheelchair-accessible bathroom, 9-foot ceilings, some with lofts and Juliet balconies. There will be front and back porches, a common lounge and rooftop garden accessible to all. Modular construction makes it possible to stack the prefab units one atop another. Slide show  and New York Times story 

Prefab stackable housing units

Prefab apartment units will stack to form 10-story building/Courtesy Office of the Mayor

The adAPT NYC initiative is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance the creation or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by the close of Fiscal Year 2014. The New York winning team is a partnership of Monadnock Development, nARCHITECTS (Brooklyn) and the Actors Fund Housing Development Corp.

Rhone-Alpes Team schematic of modular solar-powered tower

The Canopea “nanotower” for an urban location, powered by the sun. Courtesy of Wattnow.

The competition winner’s concept is remarkably similar to the award-winning Canopea prototype house (Rhone Alpes Team) – stackable small housing units topped with an open-air penthouse  with solar roof – that won the 2012 European Solar Decathlon in Madrid.  Check out the Canopea designs: 2012 Decathlon and accompanying Gallery.

Making Room, at the Museum of the City of New York, is an adjunct exhibition to the Mayor’s competition, with a full model of a 325-square-foot micro-apartment with “transformable” furniture, on view until September 2013.  Read about the city’s Making Room  initiative.

Want to learn more about tiny houses ?

Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House: A Blueprint For the Way We Really Live (Taunton 1998), her best-selling first book,  outlines how to have a house that values quality over quantity and that emphasizes comfort, beauty, and a high level of detail.   Check her web site to learn more about her books.  Her newest is the Not So Big Life

Mimi Zeiger has written two books on tiny houses: Tiny Houses and Micro Green: Tiny Houses in Nature (from treehouses to prefabs) Read the Atlantic Cities interview with Zeiger.