Wanted: Someone to Build Tiny Living Spaces for Singles in NYC

Remember when everyone was obsessed with people who live alone? In New York, Mayor Bloomberg is thinking about all the single ladies and men. Yesterday, Bloomberg launched a contest to design an efficient, small space for single people to live in that would measure around 300 square feet (like the theoretical 30×10 ft. space above)—current city laws require that new apartments in the city be built over 400 square feet, but there will be an exception for these units. The developer would build about 80 “micro units” on what is currently a city-owned parking lot on E. 27th St. in the Manhattan area known as Kips Bay. Twenty percent of the units would be dedicated to low-income residents, and the rest would rent below market for under $2,000 a month.

There are already plenty of small places to live in the city, but a lot of them are not designed very efficiently, unlike the Japanese, who are also used to living in small, but very efficiently designed spaces. I hope developers look abroad for some ideas.



11 Comments / Post A Comment

thecoffeestain (#1,483)

This sounds so similar to a contest that Treehugger hosted in NY earlier on this year. See the following link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/garden/the-founder-of-treehugger-and-his-apartment-of-the-future.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

It has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing apartments I’ve seen in a very long time. I still get a little verklempt when I read the article and check out the pictures. I hope you and your readers enjoy!

Interesting, my girlfriend was just telling me yesterday about her uncle’s new place in Paris, which is about 350ft2, and how all the apartments in DC — where we are currently apartment shopping — are way too big. (The French minimum standard for a place with a bathroom, toilet, kitchen, and master bedroom is about 280ft2, plus 95 for each additional bedroom.)

navigateher (#555)

@stuffisthings Does she feel uncomfortable living in a larger apartment or is it just that she’s used to such small apartments that she doesn’t want to pay for “extra” space that she feels she doesn’t need?

Fun fact, here the minimums nowadays are 250ft2 for an apartment, and a room has to be at least 75ft2. And, like I’ve said before, IRONY, because all we have is land and space.

@stuffisthings Paris is one of the few places where I’ve seen more creative uses of space than in NYC.

@navigateher “here” = Canada, I’m guessing?

Anyway I think it is mostly about “paying for unnecessary space.” The place she grew up in is actually a pretty spacious two bedroom that I would die for in DC (it’d probably cost more than my monthly take-home pay, too.) And yes, all the Paris apartments I’ve been in use the space very well and never feel cramped.

My parents’ house in Florida is about 10 million square feet but the layout is so badly designed that most of it is simply wasted space — which of course needs to be air conditioned and kept clean…

navigateher (#555)

@stuffisthings Oh sorry, forgot to mention once again, here = Finland. And I was just curious, because I would be SO HAPPY to pay as much as I could possibly to afford for the extra space after living in these small apartments my whole adulthood. But on the other hand I can totally see where she’s coming from.

Spinach Party (#253)

My studio is 350sq ft, with a big fat column in the off-center of the room. It is the perfect amount of space for me. My bathroom is ginormous (just a huge shower, no tub) and there is one pretty big closet/pantry. It’s sort of similar to the layout above, except take the whole kitchen part, shrink it a bit and put it in the entry-way/hallway. And of course stick a big honking column in the room… I actually like the column, it breaks up the space for a “Bedroom” and a little sitting room right by my window. It does help that I don’t own/want a couch or TV, but I could probably make it work if need-be. The sit-at kitchen counter area is pretty sweet though. There are layouts in my building that includes this, but alas, not mine.

jfruh (#161)

My first year in grad school, I lived in graduate student housing in a place called Manville Apartments, which, according to its website, has apartments 260-305 square feet in size:


I think I had one of the smaller ones? It was OK, and seemed to actually have more usable open space than the floorplan above. All the kitchen stuff (including dorm-sized refrigerator/freezer under the counter, two burners built into the counter, and a mounted combo microwave/convection oven) was against one wall and then there was continuous open space to the other side of the apartment, where the window was. Still, I had a futon bed and I really did turn it from bed to couch every morning, or else there really wouldn’t have been much by way of space to speak of.

The other thing was that bathroom seemed ridiculously large for how small the space was over all — like, it had a full-sized tub! I wondered if (since this was University-built and owned housing) it was something to do with ADA compliance?

Megano! (#124)

Just because I am single does not mean I want to live in 300 (most likely overpriced) square feet.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@Megano! Truth, but chances are with only one income most folks can’t afford more than 300 square feet in New York or some other major cities. It sucks hard, but I do like that accepting that small units are the norm in a lot of metro areas and trying to make the best of them (rather than just cramming a toilet and a mini-fridge into the minimum allowable area by law and charging a massive rent on it).

MuffyStJohn (#280)

I think this is completely brilliant. I prefer living in smaller spaces to large ones, but as a resident of a poorly-designed “microstudio,” it is frustrating that so little attention is paid to the overall functionality of a small space. In my experience, a well-designed 300 square feet is going to get you farther than a poorly designed 400 square feet.

That said, I am still desperate to find a place where I can afford a bedroom.

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