For decades, suburban Americans raced to create bigger and bigger homes, but with the rapid growth of dense urban areas over the past 20 years, more and more people are finding a new appreciation for living small. More compact dwellings mean fewer things to manage and less space to clean, which, for many urbanites, translates to decreased stress and increased happiness. In the latest episode of Urban Green, our new TV series with NYC Media, we take a sneak peek inside of Carmel Place, NYC's first micro unit apartment building, to show you what living in one of these tiny apartments decked out with clever, space-saving furniture might be like. Then we visit the Red Hook studios of Brooklyn designer Roberto Gil to check out his Casa Collection line of transforming furniture designed specifically for urban dwellers making the most of smaller spaces.
The winner of New York City’s 2013 adAPT NYC competition to design the city’s first micro unit apartment building, Carmel Place is now almost ready to welcome its first tenants.
Designed by nARCHITECTS and developed by Monadnock Development, Carmel Place is a 55-unit, modular apartment building located at 335 E 27th Street in the Kips Bay area of Manhattan. The pilot project was first introduced under the Bloomberg administration in order to address the demand for affordable single- and double- occupant dwellings in the city.
“This is going to be the first new construction building with units under 400 square feet that the city has seen in decades,” said Tobias Oriwol, Project Developer at Monadnock Development. “This type of dense living is really the next step of sustainable design and construction in the city.”
The unique prefabricated building offers 250- to 370-square-foot apartments with some of the affordable units renting for as low as $950 a month. Market-rate studios start at $2,000.
“The building is conceived of as four micro towers starting with a white brick going to a black brick, sort of four shades of grey,” said Eric Bunge, a principal at nARCHITECTS. “We really wanted the design to represent the vibrant community so we designed it so that you conceive the building as a kind of microcosm of the city or micro skyline.”
The modular pods that make up the building were prefabricated at the Brooklyn Navy Yard before being shipped to the site, saving money, time and energy.
To further support its inherently sustainable design that encourages population density, efficient living and usage of public transportation, Carmel Place was also designed to target LEED Silver certification.
“Some of the most interesting things to me about this project are the things you can’t see,” Bunge told us. “This apartment comes with transformable furniture such as this couch that can become a bed but this unit will also come with other furniture that can transform. Every square inch is usable. It’s a unit that feels a lot more than it is, and we think there are great opportunities out there for people to innovate in this space.”
One of those people changing the way New Yorkers utilize and maximize their small spaces is Roberto Gil, founder of Casa Kids and Casa Collection. We visited Gil at his Red Hook, Brooklyn studios to check out his latest innovation, the Urbano Loft Bed. The king-size bed’s clever configuration is perfect for studio apartments because it breaks up a single room into a lofted sleeping area, an enclosed office with an additional twin bed, as well as two closets, a desk, dressers, a nightstand and even open shelving.
“People like being in the city so they sacrifice space for proximity, which also requires new furniture. I think my designs speak to to the need of New Yorkers and other urban dwellers,” Gil told us. “My designs are very much oriented to modular furniture. The idea of making things in smaller components gives you the flexibility of rearranging them. I try to think not just what my customers need today and tomorrow, but in a few years, how it’s going to evolve as kids grow and family needs change. It’s about being able to use it for many years.”