Checking out the micro-apartments in New York
Penelope Green takes a close look at the new micro-apartments in New York City. Her report, which includes photos, interactive graphics, a GIF, and a video, begins:
Last week, the first tenants moved into the city’s first micro apartment development on East 27th Street. I did, too, for one night.
Tucked into a New York City Housing Authority site, on a spot between First and Second Avenues that was once a parking lot, and flanked by linden and honeylocust trees and a small plaza lined with park benches, the nine-story building, with 55 apartments between 260 and 360 square feet, is an elegant design by nArchitects, and built by Monadnock Development and the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association.
It’s also adorable, a compressed vision of the city in both ethos and mien. Eric Bunge and Mimi Hoang, nArchitects’ founding principals, imagined it as four slender stepped towers, like a mini skyline.
On that hot evening, the benches outside were full of kibitzing men of a certain age; the playground across Mount Carmel Place, the two-block street that bisects the site, had largely emptied out but for a few stragglers. Knots of pedestrians wafted by. The ghost of Jane Jacobs hovered.
Carmel Place, formerly known as My Micro NY, was the winner of the small space/tiny home competition sponsored by the New York CityDepartment of Housing Preservation and Development in 2013. For the last three years, its flourishes and features — the modular units prefabricated in a factory in the old Brooklyn Navy Yard and stacked like Legos on site; its capacious common areas and windowed hallways; the humane and lovely elements of the apartments, like 8-foot windows and nearly 10-foot ceilings — have been on display, at first in renderings, and finally, in a model apartment that was tricked out last winter.
For housing advocates, the architectural community and urban policy makers, the building is a trial balloon for a medley of themes: the changing demographic of a city with inadequate housing (according to the NYU Furman Center, a third of the city’s households are single people); a culture eager to make a smaller environmental footprint by paring down belongings and sharing resources; and what has become a unicorn in this city, affordable housing. . .