Search Twitter for #mallmonday and see a hilariously bleak photo series that profiles different malls, some dead, some impossibly sad, each week. Why are these depressing spaces so popular with architects? By giving new life to these huge, redundant spaces, architects tap into ruinophilia to feed a culturally ingrained desire for dramatic transformation and also temper the excesses of capitalism, maybe.
In Providence, Rhode Island, Northeast Collaborative Architects (NCA) handily combined dead mall revivification with micro-apartments, for an timely transformation of downtown’s Arcade Providence, the oldest shopping mall in the United States.
It took just about one month to fully stack New York City‘s first modular, micro-unit housing complex. The nARCHITECTS-designed building, known as Carmel Place is located on Manhattan’s East Side and offers 55 apartments that range between 260 and 360 square feet. You might remember that the project won Michael Bloomberg‘s adAPT NYC Competition back in 2013.
The concept of micro-living is really having a moment right now. For starters, there is a TV show called Tiny House Nation that celebrates the trend of packing fully functioning homes into bite-sized spaces where all redundancies are removed and functionality is king. Beds become couches, kitchen counters become desks, bathtubs become second bedrooms, and so on and so forth.
One year after nARCHITECTS won a New York City–led competition to design a micro-unit housing development, financing is in place to start construction. The Commercial Observer reports that M&T bank has secured a $10.3 million loan for the project known, which is known as “My Micro NY.” The nine-story building will rise in Kips Bay and contain 55 prefab units—each of which will measure roughly 300-square-feet. Nearly half of these units will rent at below-market rents. The paper reports, “The mini apartments will contain nearly 10-foot ceilings and seven-foot-wide balconies in addition to 16-foot-long overhead loft spaces and full closets.” The apartments are expected to come onto the market next year.
Designing for a smaller spaces shouldn’t translate to a reduction in quality finishes and fixtures. Following are a selection of bath fittings that serve as exceptional finds for tight rooms.
Open Space Shower
Vienna-based Eoos has collaborated on a folding shower that’s perfect for a bathroom with limited square footage. Available in clear or mirrored glass, the four walled unit folds into a chrome frame that conveniently hides all fittings, including shower and fixtures, when not in operation. The bottom can be outfitted with Duravit’s shower tray or set onto a tiled floor with a drain.
From coast to coast, micro-apartments are all the rage these days. Right on the heels of announcing the winning design team for its first micro-apartment competition, the New York Observer reported that the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Matthew Wambua told a crowd at the Citizens Housing Planning Council yesterday that the city is already scouting out two or three city-owned sites for its next micro-unit development. Once these locations are identified, the HPD said it will put out requests for proposals.
The winning team of the city’s adAPT NYC Competition consisted of nARCHITECTS, Monadnock Development, and Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation. This will not only be the city’s first foray into micro-apartment development, but it will also be one of the first projects in Manhattan to use modular construction.
Think you could live in just 325 square feet? While Manhattan is already famous for its cramped quarters, micro-apartments are poised to take space efficiency to the next level with Murphy beds lurking behind sofas and roll-away walls concealing closets. You’ll have a chance to test drive one of the tiny abodes at a new exhibition, Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, organized by the Museum of the City of New York and the Citizens Housing & Planning Council.
Take a minute to imagine what you would do if you had to cram your life into 270 square feet. In a typical ranch-style home, 270 could be a master bedroom, or a small living room, or a one-car garage. Now how about 220 square feet? It might make a shed or a bedroom. Now imagine this 15 by 18 foot or 15 by 15 foot space as your home.
Though it might sound more like another Ikea advertisement, two high-rent cities—New York and San Francisco—have been playing with the concept of permitting very small “micro-apartments” to alleviate high rents. By creating smaller housing, the idea goes, prospective renters will have a less expensive option and the city will be able to increase the density of residential units without increasing building size, always a contested point in neighborhood planning.