With an the estimated increase of one million residents by 2030 announced in Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC report, housing will have to change to accommodate a growing population. Today, almost half of the NYC population is single and nearly a third of all households are a single person living alone. Only about 18% of the city’s housing is occupied by a nuclear family. Minimum unit size is set at 400 sq. ft., a number that arose partly as a result of the horrid conditions of Tenement Housing in the early 20th century. However, considering the technological advances that have eliminated many of the dangers of living in small, close quarters and help save space, Making Room suggests it may be time to reconsider some of the laws created in the 20th century that may not accommodate 21st century lifestyles and preferences.
Making Room features both conceptual housing designs and projects that have been realized both domestically and abroad. On the more conceptual side, five teams’ projects from a challenge issued by the CHPC in partnership with the Architectural League of New York in 2011 showcase mini-studios for single adults, shared housing options and options for extended families. Additionally, several project proposals from the City-sponsored adAPT competition that took place in July 2012, feature projects by developer/architect teams. The competition called for proposals to design a building of micro-units for small, one to two person households. Most exciting perhaps, the winning design will be built on East 27th Street in Manhattan to see how it fares in the competitive New York City marketplace.
While conceptual projects are an important step in determining which designs work best, it is also exciting to know that some designs are actually realized. Jerilyn Perine, Executive Director of CHPC, explains, “Seeing what is being built in cities around the world, and understanding how our rules have held back housing change, will help educate visitors and spur an important discussion of what our future housing should look like and how we can get there.” Real world projects from global urban centers such as San Diego, Montreal, Seattle, and Tokyo offer inspiration and spark new ideas for how we may adapt to changing family structures and new environmental conditions.