I’ve long admired Donald Deskey’s drawing, Design for "Sportshack" (1940) in the Cooper Hewitt’s collection. When I first saw it, I immediately imagined what it might be like to live in this elegantly proportioned little gem of a house. As one half of a couple sharing our own micro-apartment,  I understand the challenges of paring personal belongings and selecting furniture that does double or even triple duty. A thoughtful design can make all the difference when the need for efficiency is high. But without the means to finance a renovation, this image remains for me a remote possibility.

For some, a thoughtful solution may be possible. Recently, the City of New York announced a request for proposals called adAPT to design attractive 275- to 300-square-foot “micro-units” that will offer competitively priced rents. The stimulus for the project came from a study by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council that looked at household sizes, and discovered a huge mismatch between offerings in the New York City housing market and our actual population of 1- and 2-person households.
To enable the project, the city changed zoning regulations to permit smaller apartments than are currently allowed, and more of them. The selected building, on East 27th street, will contain at least 70% of the micro-units. The city proposes that housing built for this pilot project could readily be reproduced in other high-density areas also served by mass transit, and simultaneously reduce the carbon footprint while serving the growing city population. The project also seeks input for ways to upgrade New York City’s housing codes to better reflect its changing population. The winning housing model will be tested in the market.

The winner will be selected by the end of 2012. For New Yorkers already accustomed to paying a lot of money for small spaces, it will be interesting to see how much value is truly added to the market.

For more information check out this article from the NYTimes.

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