Thursday, April 11, 2013

Urban Micro-Housing: A Path to Sustainable Livability


City of New York/Public Domain


City of New York/Public Domain

As populations worldwide become more urbanized, development of micro-housing that is both livable and sustainable for city dwellers, who tend to be single or couples, is more critical. Action based on New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg’s awareness of this reality resulted in an impressive outcome as briefly excerpted below from the press release.

"adAPT NYC is a pilot program that was launched in July 2012 through a Request for Proposals to develop a new model of housing – micro-units. The proposals were evaluated on several criteria, including innovative micro-unit layout and building design. The ‘My Micro NY’ proposal excelled in this category, with features like generous 9’-10” floor-to-ceiling heights and Juliette balconies that provide substantial access to light and air. The micro-units developed as part of this pilot will measure between 250 and 370 square feet."

The unit is innovative both for its conscious use of space and the method of local pre-fabrication.  Some features we champion are the overall small footprint, tiered setbacks with balconies, daylighting, and common areas for meeting and entertaining.   From a building regulation standpoint, the micro-units will require revising 1987 zoning requirements that new apartments in the New York City measure at least 400 square feet.  See the winning unit and other proposals on Treehugger.com.

We’re inspired by this project and envision developments that utilize strategies such as rainwater catchment for the rooftop gardens, alternative energy beginning with passive solar, incorporation of immediate neighborhood shops and grocery, provision of spaces for children and elderly, inclusion of outdoor meeting areas, as well as connection to private and public green spaces.

Consider the following quote from Julia Campoli’s excellent book Made for Walking.  "Neighborhood parks are essential, but greater density demands more than that. It requires many varied, high-quality green spaces large and small, formal and wild, for active recreation and solitude that form a network across the metropolis and to wilderness areas beyond." 

Planning, designing, and actualizing micro-housing with respect for the whole person’s needs, as well as responsible resource management, will result in a sustainable, livable environment.

Read more...
  • These urban pressures on space are also being responded to on the west coast in the San Francisco Bay area and internationally.   
  • Explore how one urban dweller makes her small space work in NYC.

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