Share this on WhatsAppBy Pavither Sidhu According to statistics, the average size of new houses in the United States of America is getting larger every year....

By Pavither Sidhu

According to statistics, the average size of new houses in the United States of America is getting larger every year. This is strange when you consider population growth, diminishing land and current austerity measures being adopted around the globe.

However, there are those in America who believe that you can do more with less… a lot less, in fact.
Tiny houses and micro apartments are not new concepts to countries like Japan, but they are only beginning to make their presence felt in the US, and some say the trend may catch on.

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Smaller spaces are being touted as more environmentally friendly, more affordable and perhaps even more communal.
The idea is to be more active outdoors, and smaller living spaces might encourage you to get outside and be more social.

One city that has witnessed increased popularity for the micro home concept is Seattle in Washington state, where units no larger than 200sq ft are mushrooming in neighbourhoods such as First Hill and University District.

According to the Times, the trend was catalysed by the city’s rapid population growth, and already 780 micro houses have been cleared for occupancy in the metropolis. Reportedly, another 1,598 units are on the way.

The first building of its kind arrived in 2009, when a locally-based developer designed units as small as 100sq ft, fashioned in tightly knit clusters with a shared kitchen. Though initially a novelty, the surprising popularity of the concept caught the attention of the authorities and now Seattle City Hall has called for such units to provide at least 220sq of space ft with a private bathroom and kitchen.

Realtors in the area say that a major attraction for this type of housing has been the age-old adage of location, location, location. Millennials on a budget have embraced the idea because these units
are typically located close to the city’s cultural hubs, making the sacrifice of space worthwhile.

The micro-housing trend also coincides with the national trend of increasing rental demand. Also, younger potential tenants are faced with a marked dip in the supply of affordable rental property and many millennials continue to insist on single living.

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Smaller spaces are being touted as more environmentally friendly, more affordable and perhaps even more communal.

The Census Bureau statistics show that the number of households made up of one person is up 17%
from the average in the 1970s.

The Seattle Times notes that “while tiny apartments are hardly a new thing… they’ve attracted attention and controversy here because developers have been building them at a quick clip.”

But that’s not stopping designers and builders from pursuing a “tiny living” outlook for upcoming
developments.

Savannah College of Art & Design’s students showcased micro-housing as the answer to many
current urban issues, with its experimental 135sq ft SCAD pad microhomes in Atlanta.

Cities such as New York and San Francisco have announced plans to create similar micro units, and San Francisco recently approved the development of 375 units of 220sq ft apartments.

In the national capital of Washington DC, developer PN Hoffman & Associates is in the process of transforming a huge slice of waterfront property along the Washington Channel in the southwest part of the city. It is offering units that are just one-quarter the size of regular apartments with built-ups of 350sq ft.

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The building will be “designed for sociability, for meeting the neighbours,” said the developer.

It will also have various facilities such as a rooftop dog park, privately owned gardens with
your own plot, bocce courts on the roof while inside there are club rooms and a library or
lounge for easy interaction.

Urbanist scholar Chris Leinberger said the idea that spaces like these will create more
community-centric individuals may be true for some residents. But most, he added, are likely
to bring their friends from outside the building to enjoy the amenities.

In other words, Leinberger believes the notion of enhancing community spirit is more likely in
theory, rather than in practice.

“I really want to see what we could do creatively in DC with an urban infill, and not just another form of affordable housing,” he said.

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