San Francisco and New York City are experimenting with a somewhat new concept in urban housing: the micro-studio apartment. A micro-studio has between 220 and 350 square feet of space. This is just enough living space for a small family unit of one to three people.
The driving forces behind this new concept include the high cost of living space in cities, the need for new housing, events like Hurricane Sandy, higher energy costs and the trend among young people of collecting fewer possessions. The advent of the net computer, ipads, Kindle and phones like the Blackberry has meant that people now collect fewer books in favor of access to information by computer. People also have more opportunities to socialize outside the home, thanks to activities such as volunteering, multiple jobs, gym memberships and a host of activities that keep people engaged outdoors.
There are numerous advantages to the micro-studios: beds can be folded into the wall with combinations like bed/closet or bed/shelving. Kitchen appliances can be built into the walls. Heating and air conditioning costs are also lower in the much smaller/compact living space.
Opponents have argued against the concept, citing higher population densities will stress public accommodations, medical care delivery and local transit..
New York Mayor Bloomberg has agreed to waive the existing zoning laws on a limited basis in order to incubate the micro-studio concept in Manhattan. The new micro-studios would be between 250-350 square feet. Currently, San Francisco is considering a floor of 220 square feet in its zoning laws.
The only remaining question is whether or not people will embrace micro-studio apartments on a large enough scale to whet the appetites of construction builders. Is the micro-studio an idea whose time has come or is the notion simply another passing fad?