Single people now make up a third of New York City’s households and with the average rent for a studio at $2,600, the city responded in 2012 by announcing a competition to design units smaller than the minimum size of 400 square feet. Mimi Hoang and Eric Bunge of nArchitects won with their ‘My Micro NY’ proposal (now called Carmel Place).
With 55 units ranging from 260 to 360 square feet, Carmel Place is the city’s first modular micro-apartment building. Hoang explains the building had to be prefabbed in order to squeeze as many units as possible on the small site.
“Even though we’re shrinking the square footage of the apartment, we still had to comply with a lot of regulations, regulations about minimize size- minimize size of the kitchen, the counter length, of living space dimension- so the tolerances that we were working with were within an eighth of an inch which is really not possible with traditional construction so basically all the fine-tuning was done in the factory to get it really, really exact.”
Due to codes, the bathroom and kitchen size was predetermined so the architects worked with transforming furniture to make the livingroom/bedroom multifunctional.
To create a bigger, and lighter, feeling inside the apartments, the architects designed high ceilings (9 foot 8 inches), large windows and Juliet balconies (or “balconet”: a full-length sliding glass door, but no exterior access).
“We want you to feel like you’re part of the street, part of a larger story. That your home is not just part of the space inside the four walls,” explains Hoang. ”Your home also includes the salon on the roof, the gym, the cafe that will open up on the ground floor, so it’s the idea of a dispersed house. What’s inside your apartment is very small and very compact, but elsewhere in the building you will find everything that you normally find in a home, it’s just dispersed and it’s shared.”