Micro-housing has become a hot topic as New York City aims to reconcile its lack of affordable housing with its booming population, but the majority of tiny apartment concepts out there involve constructing new buildings from scratch. Korean architect Donghyun Kim has devised an entirely different solution, which aims to utilize wasted spaces in existing infrastructure to create new dwellings. In 2013, Kim's proposal was awarded second place in the residential category of the ‘RE-THINKING THE FUTURE’ design competition.
Kim, an Architectural Designer at Neal Beckstedt Studio with an MArch from Cornell University, conceptualized his micro-housing project as a response to New York City’s current housing crisis. “There is a demonstrated need for so-called micro-housing — small units for single men and women,” says Kim. “76% of the city population, approximately 1.8 million households, are comprised of only one or two people. However, only 1 million studios or 1 bedroom apartments are currently provided.” The other issue is that most of the city is already fully developed on the ground level, so Kim decided to look for ways to add more housing without having to construct new buildings.
“I developed this project with a purpose to find a sustainable way to respond to an issue on micro-housing and a new type of housing development in New York City,” explains Kim. “By utilizing the existing infrastructure and tweaking the current zoning envelope possibilities, this project is trying to achieve a maximum number of dwelling units with a minimum need for demolition. The project emphasizes on a more financially efficient and environmentally sustainable way of creating additional dwelling units on the existing urban fabric that is already fully developed on the ground level.”
Kim’s suggestion of in-filling wasted space in existing buildings with new residential apartments would likely require some additional zoning research, but would be a viable and certainly more eco-friendly way to create space for more New Yorkers. Building owners could also benefit from added income.