Macro Views on Micro: ULI Report & Parkside Studios Progress

A recent report published by the Urban Land Institute – entitled “The Macro View on Micro Units” – suggests that, although small in terms of square feet, micro units fall neatly in stride with the needs and desires of a growing segment of the urban housing marketplace, and should endure as a viable urban housing type for the long run.

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Research shows that micro units – like those at Archer Studios, above – are more than just a passing fad.

Drawn from an impressive analysis of hundreds of recently-built rental apartment communities, including the findings from an extensive survey of renters of both conventional apartments and micro units – as well as case studies of existing and planned micro unit communities – the report’s 46 pages can be reduced to this: Micro units appeal to single urban dwellers of limited means, in high-cost markets, who don’t own a lot of “stuff” and are willing to trade some personal space for improved affordability, proximity to downtown neighborhoods, and access to shared spaces and amenities.

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Roger K. Lewis for The Washington Post

Of course the report’s authors could have saved themselves the trouble of all that research had they consulted these humble pages – as we at Studio E Architects have been treading this ground for quite some time! Beyond the blogosphere, we’re also fortunate to have several projects under construction or on the boards that feature micro-units, and are thrilled to see these ideas taking shape in real form.

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Overhead view of Parkside Studios – Sunnyvale, California. Studio E Architects for Charities Housing

Parkside Studios – our 58-unit, affordable micro apartment development in the City of Sunnyvale for Charities Housing – is one such community, and is also notable as one of the first affordable housing projects to utilize modular construction in northern California. The project will be completed in the second quarter of 2015. Check out the video below to see the pre-fabricated micro units being craned into position for final assembly.

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Parkside Studios construction progress video. Charities Housing, Developer.

In our research for these communities, we continue to discover others who are involved in the same pursuit – with oftentimes wildly different sets of budget and spatial constraints. For example – with an average unit size of 372 square feet, Parkside Studio’s micro units dwarf that of the Keret House in Warsaw, Poland – which contains a mere 46 square feet of living space!

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At left, Keter House Streetfront elevation – Andreas Meichsner for the New York Times.                                          At right, section view of Keter House – Jakub Szczesny, for Centrala

Designed by architect Jakub Szczesny, the Keret House is the thinnest dwelling in the world, at a shockingly narrow five feet wide. Click here to learn more about the project and enjoy more photos (and a cool animation).

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Entry to the Keter House is through the floor – Andreas Meichsner for The New York Times

What are your thoughts? How much personal space would you be willing to sacrifice for a prime location in your favorite city? How small is too small, and what couldn’t you live without? Let us know how you feel in the comments section below, and stay tuned to this space for more!

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