With the price of city property reaching astronomic proportions in the 21st century, and first time buyers struggling to even reach the property ladder, let alone put a foot on it.

The last few years have witnessed a growing trend towards the concept of micro-living. These spaces usually under 40m2, range in their complexities. Examples such as Gary Chang’s Apartment 24 and Simon Woodroffe’s Yo! Home, offer complex solutions to an age-old problem. The creation of space within limited boundaries.

However, does the solution need to be so complicated? With housing shortages now effecting American cities, the originators of ‘big is beautiful’ are now starting to think that good things really do come in small packages.

AdaptNYC, a pilot program launched in New York City to look at proposals for micro-units are searching for the new American Dream. The winners of the competition propose a mixture of pre-fabricated construction and snap-on architecture to deal with the chronic housing shortage in Manhattan.

Many of the suggested schemes follow the same concept of Kisho Kurokawa’s, 1972 Capsule Tower, a pioneer of the metabolist movement, using scalable and stackable modular architecture. Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67, being another famous example of a trend, now witnessing resurgence. With shipping containers the new theme currently replacing the asbestos boxes in many projects seen world-wide.

Photo of 9 Tsubo House by Makoto Masuzawa

Japanese philosophy has traditionally looked at design solutions for compact living. The roots of micro-living can be traced back to 1952 and the architect Makota Masuzawa. Whose aim to design ‘the absolute minimum house’ created the 9-Tsubo House.

The tsubo being a traditional Japanese measurement, formed by two tatami mats side by side. Nine of these form a large square. The ground plan for the original design.

Photo of Modern 9 Tsubo HouseIt is clear that architects love to design micro-apartments. Seeing the lack of space as a complex puzzle where living configurations need to be solved.

But do people love to live in them?

Perhaps living in a society obsessed by consumerism and possession, we can learn something from utilising our space and belongings. Current lifestyle choices with later marriage age, later family age and higher divorce rates, coupled with city living where the majority of time is spent out of the home. Could point to a more sustainable future where costs and energy levels are kept low.

Or perhaps we are simply seeing a resurgence of a cyclical trend and the motivation to maintain communities, friendships through co-living, family life and the desire for more prosperous living will, ultimately, dictate the lifestyle and living solutions of the future.

What are your thoughts? Do you live in a micro-apartment? Have your say by leaving a comment.