The Museum of the City of New York is featuring an exhibit called Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers through September 15. This exhibit showcases innovative designs from around the world to meet the changing demographics of cities, such as creating housing for singles and adjusting to changing family sizes. Making Room also shows the winner of Mayor Bloomberg’s adAPT contest to design a micro-studio apartment of 325 square feet.
Architects and designers met the challenge of creating a comfortable space in less than the legally mandated apartment size of 400 square feet with aplomb. The common thread of the various constructions was flexibility and adaptation, with most architects incorporating adjustable walls to allow family sizes to increase or decrease over time. Stan Allen and Rafi Segal, for example, repurposed large office towers into residential structures that could be adjusted to meet changing needs of growing families.
Another architecture firm, Gans Studio, focused on adjusting single family homes by adding ADUs, or Accessory Dwelling Units, onto existing homes. These extensions could accommodate visiting guests, or be rented out to bring in extra income. Their case study focused on single-family, detached homes in Queens.
New York’s singles population is rising (according to New York magazine‘s 2008 calculations, 50.6 percent of Manhattan lives single, in Brooklyn, 29.5 percent, in Queens 26.1, and overall in New York City, one in three homes contains a single dweller) but, according to the exhibit, only 1.5 percent of the city’s rental housing is made up of studios or one-bedrooms ready for occupancy.
Mayor Bloomberg launched the adAPT NYC contest to encourage designs for very teeny apartments to remedy the lack of available singles housing. The team of nARCHITECTS, Monadnock Development LLC, and Actors Fund HDC designed the winning micro-apartment–a prefabricated room made from local materials. This design, according to Arch Daily, is to be realized “on a piece of city-owned land in Kips Bay, Manhattan, that has been alleviated from the 1987 density restriction that requires all new apartments to be greater than 400 square feet.”
The Making Room exhibit features a full-scale model of the apartment and shows you the various ways that every part of the apartment can be used for storage. The apartment felt comfortable and airy, but the current lack of a ceiling certainly contributed to this sense of openness.
The exhibit also showcased innovative designs outside of New York, such as the redesign of the historic Arcade Shopping Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The mall is the nation’s oldest indoor shopping center, but it closed in 2008 due to the economic downturn. It is now being reimagined as a retail/ housing hybrid with new stores on the first floor and micro-lofts on the second and third floors. Apartments start at $550 a month, and, according to developers, there is already a waiting list of hopeful renters.
Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers will be on display at the Museum of the City of New York through September 15th. For more information on visiting the museum see here.