Micro Rentals: Living Small, or Thinking Big?

by Chris on February 18, 2013

First it was Mini-Coopers and SmartCars. Now, the trend is mini-apartments.

Boston-based architecture and design firm ADD Inc has unveiled its 300 square foot micro unit mockup to showcase its unique, cost-efficient, “smaller-than-market” apartments.

ADD Inc has been a leader in the micro unit conversation since 2010, when Boston’s Mayor Menino invited Senior Associate Principal Tamara Roy and 4 other architects to answer the question, “What is Innovative Housing?”

Working with city lawmakers and business leaders, ADD, Inc responded to the major housing concern: affordability.

In the two years since, ADD Inc’s 20-person What’s In? task force, led by Roy along with Aeron Hodges and Quinton Kerns, has brainstormed housing solutions to meet the existing demand for lower cost housing for those who choose to live downtown — renters who want their own place in the city and don’t mind if their unit is small.

ADD Inc has designed over 100 units 400 square feet and under within Boston’s Innovation District. Two projects are in construction: Pier 4 for The Hanover Company and Boston Wharf Tower for Gerding Edlen, with 2 others in planning stages. Governor Deval Patrick, the Dukakis Center, and local business leaders, unable to house their workers affordably, are calling for 10,000 – 12,000 new units per year. Roy credits Mayor Menino for encouraging developers to pursue a different housing model that will increase supply and diversify the market.

Roy likens micro unit to designs such as the Mini-Cooper and SmartCar, explaining that car manufacturers didn’t ignore a market that couldn’t afford luxury brands; instead they invented cheaper, smaller, ‘hipper’ models with improved gas efficiency.

ADD Inc has designed micro units in the same way – with space-saving micro-kitchens, bed alcoves, bike hangers, and creative storage. And like the ZipCar, residents only rent what they need – a bedroom, bath, small sitting and eating area – and share the rest – group living/party room, common kitchen, green roof.

The exhibit is sponsored in part by ADD Inc, Boston Properties, and Suffolk Construction, and will be on display through March 8th. The What’s In? mobile app can be viewed at: http://whatsinmicrounits.myw2m.com/

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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