This week New York`s mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has a lot of ideas, announced a competition for architects to submit designs for apartments measuring just 275 to 300 square feet (25.5 to 28 square meters) "to address the shortage of homes suitable and affordable for the city’s growing population of one- and two-person households" (nationalreview.com). The politician declared: “People from all over the world want to live in New York City, and we must develop a new, scalable housing model that is safe, affordable and innovative to meet their needs.”
Are mini-apartments really a good idea? I am sharing a flat measuring just 320 square feet in South Manhattan`s Lower East Side with my girlfriend (and 2 cats). The shortage of space is sometimes a challenge. We have to choose tables and chairs which fit exactly between our tight walls. We have to decide how many cloths, books and other things we can squeeze into the tiny apartment. And hosting friends is a logistical task.
But our flat is in a residential building which was built almost 100 years ago and was not optimally sized. Today architects may develop even smaller apartments which are better sized and supply enough rooming convenience.
Mini-apartments may be a good idea for singles who aren´t especially demanding and don´t want to agglomerate too many things in their dwellings. They also could function for couples who like to go out very often, aren`t too claustrophobic and don`t plan to have babies in the next years. Therefore the bonsai flats fit exactly to the trend which shows a rise of small households. Mini-apartments also could function for elderly people who´s kids have left home and who want to experience the pulsing life of a city center again.
In the language of economics, the residents of the mini-apartments make a trade. They are giving up spacious apartments elsewhere to gain advantages of living in a metropolis which have a higher value for them than roomy flats.
I reckon that Bloomberg´s housing project could be a success story in New York City and then an export model for similar expensive centers of London, Paris or Köln (Cologne, Germany). If mini-apartments become a trend they could even help fight rising oil prices and the greenhouse effect. The popularization of mini-apartments could reduce the car traffic because people who live in city centers need to commute less and drive therefore less.