“My Micro NY”: tiny apartment design contest

Like the tiny house idea but want to live in Manhattan? Here you go!

250-375 square feet. Comparable to the 20-foot diameter 330 square (round) foot yurt I lived in for nearly 20 years in the Tetons. Much my preferred way to live. Hardly anything to clean. Only essential stuff. Easier to stay centered and focused on what matters.

The article says that 40% of these micro apartments will be “affordable.” It’s all relative. I paid $125 per month for the yurt . . .

Like the modular idea. Better if the modules are made of recycled materials, or themselves recycled.

Even better, because answering human needs for both privacy and community, would be a circular arrangement, with each tiny apartment facing a common room (with kitchen and dining) for neighbors to gather. Hmmm. Sounds like co-housing! High-rise co-housing? Is there any, especially with tiny individual spaces and larger common areas? Some new college dorms approach this idea.

In Winning Design, City Hopes to Address a Cramped Future

January 22, 2013



The interior of the winning design, “My Micro NY,” in New York City’s tiny-apartment competition. The entry packs a lot into units less than 370 square feet.
New York City Mayor’s Office: The interior of the winning design, “My Micro NY,” in New York City’s tiny-apartment competition. The entry packs a lot into units less than 370 square feet.

The apartment of New York City’s future, as the city imagines it, has all the amenities of modern life: wheelchair-accessible bathroom, a full kitchen, space for entertaining and access to a gym, communal lounge, front and back porches and a rooftop garden — all in 250 to 370 square feet.

The city on Tuesday unveiled the winner of a competition to design and build an apartment tower on city-owned land composed entirely of micro-units, 55 homes the size of hotel rooms that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hopes will be the first in a wave of tiny apartments aimed at addressing the city’s shortage of studio and one-bedroom apartments.

Small as it might be, the winning design was chosen for the way that it maximized light, airiness and storage space through the use of 9-foot-high ceilings, large windows, lofts and Juliet balconies.

“We have a shortfall now of 800,000, and it’s only going to get worse,” Mr. Bloomberg said during the news conference announcing the winning team, a partnership between Monadnock Development, Brooklyn-based nARCHITECTS and a nonprofit that serves creative arts professionals, the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation. “This is going to be a big problem for cities with young people.”

In another futuristic twist, the 10-story tower at 335 East 27th Street in the Kips Bay neighborhood will rise thanks to modular construction, becoming Manhattan’s first apartment building to do so: units will be prefabricated, then stacked on top of one another like Legos.

Forty percent of the units will be affordable, restricted to tenants earning no more than $77,190 a year, with the rest at market rate. Rents start at $914 a month for those earning up to $38,344 a year, well below Manhattan’s average studio rent of $2,000, and go up to $1,873 for those making $77,190 or less.

If the interior renderings are any indication, the micro-units are designed to appeal most to young professionals, perhaps to a young academic: a person who requires lots of bookshelves for scholarly tomes and hosts the occasional dinner party.

A rendering of the exterior of the building, which will have 55 units.New York City Mayors OfficeA rendering of the exterior of the building, which will have 55 units.

“But there’s another side to the person — he or she likes to surf and so on,” said Eric Bunge, a principal at nARCHITECTS. Thus the bright-green surfboard, depicted in an interior rendering as stowed in a large loft storage space. (Another unexpected touch was a ghostly image of an old man’s bearded head, which Mr. Bunge said was meant to be a drawing on a chalkboard-painted wall.)

But he was quick to caution that the micro-units could be for anyone, from retirees to the nurses at nearby Bellevue Hospital Center. Apart from the kitchen and bathroom, the space is designed to be flexible, he said: “It’s all about appropriating your space, really.”

The announcement was made at the Museum of the City of New York, whose new exhibit, “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers,” displays the winning proposal alongside a different 325-square-foot micro-unit model that features an electric toilet that doubles as a bidet; Italian shower fixtures; a Murphy bed that pulls down over a hot-pink sofa, a flat-screen TV that slides to reveal extra shelving and a coffee table-cum-ottoman that deconstructs into four stools.

As for whether people would consider living in one, the answer on the streets of Kips Bay, perhaps predictably, seemed to depend on whether you asked a Manhattan dweller or a suburbanite.

Cataline Vincent, 26, who works at Bellevue, said she had struggled to find affordable rentals on her $40,000 salary. “In New York City, space is limited, and we’re willing to settle for what we can get,” she said. “In New York, people will live in a garbage can!”

Others were quicker to turn up their noses.

“I wouldn’t keep a dog in that size room,” said one woman, indignantly.

She declined to give her name, but she said she lived in New Jersey.

The floor plan of the apartment shown in the rendering above.New York City Mayor’s OfficeThe floor plan of the apartment shown in the rendering above.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 22, 2013

An earlier version of this post showed the floor plan for the wrong apartment in the last image. The apartments in the two floor plans are the same size and mostly configured the same way, but there are minor differences between the two. Another version gave an erroneous distinction to a 10-story tower that is to be built at 335 East 27th Street in Kips Bay. It will be the first apartment building to be built in Manhattan using modular construction, not the first in New York City.

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