Making Room for Micro Apartments at the Museum of the City of NY

People viewing the Micro Apartments at the Making Room exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York

Sizes of the New York Micro Apartments can vary, but they usually fall anywhere between 250 and 325 square feet. They seem to be a sure-fire trend in NYC real estate in the coming years, and could even change the market here for good. 

It's really just a question of demographics and, one hopes, a way to offer more affordable apartment option for people looking for something small and simple, a counterpoint to NYC's soaring luxury rentals. Because according to various reports, there are currently about one million studio and one-bedroom apartments in all of New York City, and nearly double that number (approximately 1.8 million) of one- or two-person households. And all signs indicate that the gap between supply and demand is only getting wider. Enter Mayor Bloomberg's adAPT NYC pilot program, for which the city is waiving the usual size restrictions on newly constructed units. Currently all new apartments must be at least 400 square feet–to create tiny homes that are comfortable, livable, even desireable.  

A display model of a possible NYC Micro Apartment design, completely furnished, showing different levels and floors to show how this could be an apartment solution to NYC Realty

Conceptualizing the NYC Micro Apartment

The first step in the potential NYC Micro Apartment revolution is already done, as more than 30 of the world's preeminent architecture and engineering firms submitted plans to the adDAPT competition to design the first round of homes, 55 of which will be built beginning at the end of this year on a city-owned lot in Kips Bay, with a move-in date of September 2015. Many of these are pretty ingenious, and all seem like places we could imagine living. Now you can see renderings and models of a sampling of the entrants, as well as a fully furnished, 325-square-foot unit laid out in its entirety, at the Museum of the City of New York's terrific new exhibition, Making Room.

Building nARCHITECTS Micro Apartment

The basic strategy here seems to be the transference of many amenities from a resident's personal space into the building's common areas. For example, the winning entry by the team of Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS micro apartment (the one they're actually going to start building in Kips Bay) will have a rooftop garden and deck, lounges on most of the floors for working or hanging out, a large multi-purpose space that you can reserve for dinners and events, a laundry room, bike storage and general storage, a cafe, and a fitness room. All of the plans and ideas from the NYC Micro Apartment competition are interesting, and there are also presentations in Making Room on several existing micro homes, from Seattle, Providence, Montreal, San Diego, and Tokyo. 

Man sitting on the couch of a decorated micro apartment at the museum of the city of new york, showing how specialized mirco furniture can make these tiny apartments comfortable

Apartment Solutions for NYC Real Estate

But the highlight of the Making Room show at the Museum of the City of New York has to be the actual Micro Apartment itself, furnished with exceptionally lovely, clever, and, we imagine, exceptionally expensive furniture from the Italian design company Clei. There were very few people in the exhibit when we attended last week (that is, after a local high school class cleared out), and the Museum staffer assigned to the apartment was only too happy to answer all of our questions and demonstrate the cool ways  that this smart, flexible furniture made such a small space seem bigger than many NYC rentals we've lived in over the years. Really, these pieces are beautiful: the Murphy bed that folds down without "spilling" the tchotkes or pictures or whatever you have on the mantel-turned-bed-legs; the dining table that glides out from under the kitchen counter; the extra-tall closet that puts your clothes hanging nine feet high within easy reach… if you're at all a fan of interior design, this part of the Micro Apartments exhibition makes a visit to the Museum almost mandatory. 

Women standing in the kitchen of a micro apartment, showing the specialized kitchen table which slides out of the kitchen counter

Making Room at the Museum of the City of New York

The NYC Micro Apartments exhibition Making Room will be at the Museum of the City of New York through September 15. The Museum is located on 5th Avenue and 103rd Street and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission is suggested. For more information about the Museum of the City of New York and Micro Apartments show, please see their website, here.  

Two people looking at a micro apartment display model in a glass casing at the museum of the city of new york

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