Many will doubtless regard with skepticism the Bloomberg administration’s newly announced “micro-unit” pilot program. The administration is asking developers to submit proposals for the design and construction of an apartment building on a city-owned site in Manhattan; the city will adjust zoning restrictions there, allowing the winning developer to construct a building full of tiny, 275-square-foot (25.6 square metre) apartments. In a country where plenty of homeowners have garages far larger than the proposed apartments—which would be not much bigger than an ATM lobby—there will be a tendency to see the micro-units as novelties similar to gourmet food carts, Central Park bike-rental wars, $500 Broadway tickets, and other aspects of life unique to the Big Apple.
One of my stranger-looking pieces on this site is doubtless Barack Obama: Dreaming of the Fifty Square Metre Apartment. Bloomberg, however, is hoping that a flat half that size will become someone’s dream.
Although I would not argue the basic premise that too much American housing is built on the large end of the spectrum, I think this goes too far the other way. After all, the least they could do is go for the top end of the Soviet spectrum. As I noted about the Soviet system:
Most of these apartments were either “two room” or “three room” (excluding the kitchen and the bathroom) dwellings with a total living space of around 40-50 square metres (that’s 430-530 square feet for the metrically challenged; I’ll use 50 square metres for simplicity’s sake.)
Next thing you know he’ll want to nationalise the health care system–oops, he just did that.