Materializing Miniature Living: The Rise of Tiny Houses and Micro-Apartments
Anna Marie Smith
The rise in population and subsequent need for adequate housing in cities is changing the housing landscape, specifically in New York City. Based on the 2010 US Census, thirty-three percent of people in New York City live alone. Yet only 1.5% of New York City’s rental housing stock comprises a studio or one-bedroom apartment ready for occupancy. To make matters even more complicated, government policy from the 1980s currently requires the size of a studio apartment be more than four hundred square feet. Tiny houses and micro-apartments, which are living spaces complete with a bed, kitchen, and bathroom, represent what appear to be progressive, sustainable housing options better suited to the reality of our demographic. But their success will be determined by factors including how these spaces are designed, their commercial and political value to policy makers and developers, and, most significantly, the extent to which their inhabitants will embrace them. Will micro-living provide a viable, cost-effective living option for the changing demographics of the United States? How will designers create scalable housing models that are easily replicated in different contexts? What lifestyle changes must be made in order for downsizing to lead to a better quality of life? This talk explores the future of micro-living, impelled by both the necessity of spatial restraints as well as preference towards a more reductive lifestyle.