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Jan. 25, 2013

Micro-Housing to Solve Apartment Crisis in NYC?

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The lack of inventory and skyrocketing rent prices have forced many New Yorkers to reconsider their housing options or look for solutions to transform their notoriously tiny apartments into multifunctional homes.

Following the relatively new “micro-housing” concept, which has been gaining more and more followers in several major U.S. cities such as San Francisco or Boston, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced the winner of the adaptNYC Competition—a city-sponsored pilot program launched in July 2012 to develop innovative micro-apartments that would respond to New York City’s housing problems.

The development team composed of Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation and nARCHITECTS, the latter of whom was chosen to design, construct and operate the city’s first standalone micro-unit apartment building. Named “My Micro NY,” the project will occupy a vacant, city-owned parcel at 335 East 27th St. in Manhattan.

The $15 million pilot investment will include 55 prefabricated rental micro-apartments measuring between 250 and 370 square feet, with 40 percent of the units already designated as affordable. City officials estimate that the building will accommodate 70 to 100 residents, who are expected to move in by September 2015.

Each unit at My Micro NY will consist of two distinct zones—one including a kitchen, bathroom and storage room, and the other one designed as a canvas area providing flexible space and serving as the primary living and sleeping area. The micro-housing building will also feature a rooftop garden, a community room on each floor, a lounge area, a laundry room and storage room.

Meanwhile, local entrepreneur and trained architect Graham Hill seems to have found an ideal solution to living (and working) in super-tiny apartments. According to Yahoo! News back in 2009, Hill acquired two studios in a 100-year-old building in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood and, after launching an international design competition, chose two Romanian architecture students—Cătălin Sandu and Adrian Iancu—to renovate a 420-square-foot apartment into a chameleonic housing unit that can be quickly converted from one room to two and from main living area to office, dining and kitchen space.

Apart from the sliding walls, a telescopic dining table, stackable chairs, fold-down bunk beds and well-integrated office equipment, the micro-unit called LifeEdited also incorporates several environmental design features such as photovoltaic cells and energy-efficient appliances.

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Rendering of My Micro NY project courtesy of NYC Mayor’s Office
Video presentation of the LifeEdited project from Gizmodo on Vimeo.