Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Apodment" microapartment building, Capitol Hill, Seattle

A microapartment, also known as a microflat, is a one-room, self-contained living space, usually purpose built, designed to accommodate a sitting space, sleeping space, bathroom and kitchenette with 14–32 square metres (50–350 sq ft) Unlike a traditional studio flat, residents may also have access to a communal kitchen, communal bathroom/shower, patio and roof garden.


Bedrooms in microapartments need to be tiny and may also serve as a living room.

The microapartments are often designed for futons, or with pull-down beds, folding desks and tables, and extra-small or hidden appliances. They differ from bedsits, the traditional British bed-sitting room, in that they are self-contained, with their own bathroom, toilet, and kitchenette.

Microapartments are becoming popular in urban centres in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and North America, maximizing profits for developers and landlords and providing relatively low-priced accommodation.[1][2] In Rome, where the average price of property in 2010 was $7,800 per square metre (10.7 square feet), microapartments as small as 4 square metres (45 square feet) have been advertised.[3]


Hong Kong[edit]

Gary Chang, an architect in Hong Kong, has designed a large 32-square-metre (344 sq ft) microapartment with sliding walls attached to tracks on the ceiling. By moving the walls around, and using built-in folding furniture and worktops, he can convert the space into 24 different rooms, including a kitchen, library, laundry room, dining room, bar and video-game room.[4]

In Hong Kong, developers are embracing the micro-living trend, renting microapartments at sky-high prices. The Wall Street Journal compares the 180-square-feet flat in High Place, Sai Ying Pun to the size of a U.S. parking spot (160 square feet) in a video, highlighting the soaring property prices in Hong Kong (one of the apartments in High Place was sold for more than US$500,000 in June 2015).[5]


Goldfish and toy dogs maybe better suited than larger animals in microapartments. [6]

In January 2013, New York City got its first microapartment[7] building, with 55 units that are as small as 250 square feet (23 m2)[8] and ceilings from nine to ten feet (2.7 to 3.0 m).

Boston's first microapartment building opened in August 2016, at 1047 Commonwealth Avenue in Packard's Corner. As the largest microapartment building in the United States, the building is currently being leased by Boston University to house 341 students during the renovation of another university residence. The building contains 180 units that each contain a bathroom with stand-up shower; a kitchen with all stainless-steel appliances that include an oven, a microwave, a dishwasher, and a refrigerator. Each unit also includes a stand up washer-dryer unit. Other amenities include an optional parking garage and indoor bike room in the basement, currently unused retail space, a lounge space, a rooftop penthouse, a deck overlooking the Allston neighbors, and an entertainment room that will be converted to a fitness center at the end of the University's tenure at the property, which is anticipated to be in 2018.

In the United States, most cities have zoning codes that set the minimum size for a housing unit (often 400 square feet) as well as the number of non-related persons who can live together in one unit. [9]

There has been a backlash in some cities against the increasing number of microapartments. In Seattle, some residents have complained that high-density microhousing changes the character of neighbourhoods, suddenly increasing demand for parking spaces and other amenities.[10][11]


In the UK, property developers are using office-to-residential permitted development rights, a policy introduced in 2013, to transform old office buildings into microapartment developments. The nationally described space standard stipulates that new homes in the UK cannot be smaller than 37sqm; however, this does not apply to conversions. [12] London-based developer Inspired Homes has taken advantage of office-to-residential permitted development rights to deliver over 400 microapartments. [13] A micro-property in the UK has no strict definition but typically refers to properties with a floor area below 37sqm. Which? magazine reported that almost 8,000 new micro-homes were built in 2016, the highest number on record. [14]

As of 2017, the largest microapartment building in the world is The Collective Old Oak,[15] which opened in London on May 1, 2016.[16] Designed by PLP Architecture, the development has 546 rooms with most units grouped into "twodios" – two en-suite bedrooms that share a small kitchenette. There are also some private suites. The units sizes range from 9.2 square metres (99 sq ft) for an ensuite rooms with a 5.8 square metres (62 sq ft) shared kitchenette, to 12 square metres (130 sq ft) for a shared ensuite and 16.5 square metres (178 sq ft) shared ensuite with kitchenette.[17] Each floor features one larger kitchen with a dining table, which is shared between 30 and 70 residents, and themed communal living spaces such as a games room, a cinema, a 'disco-launderette', a hidden garden and a spa. A restaurant, gym and co-working spaces are located in the lower floors of the building.


In 2017, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported there are about 25,000 micro-apartments in the country, and several thousand more are set to be built by the end of 2018. The projects will receive state support: the federal government plans to invest €120M in the micro-apartment market expansion. The market of micro-apartment targets over 30 million people, including students, singles and tenants whose primary places of residence are far from the big cities they work in. In Germany, tenants traditionally face considerable obstacles when trying to rent for anything less than the long-term — such as the obligation to pay a security deposit equal to three months’ rent and heightened credit history scrutiny. To the contrary, micro-apartments tend to cater to short- to medium-term renters. [18]

Pros and cons[edit]

Cooking with onions and garlic, smoking, or wearing perfume, maybe an issue to tenants with sensitivities in microapartments.[19]

Although some prefer to live in microapartments, others only temporarily live in microapartments due to economic reasons, and would move to a larger house or apartment if they could afford to do so.[citation needed]]]

Susan Saegert, a professor of environmental psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center was quoted with her opinion on microapartments, “I’ve studied children in crowded apartments and low-income housing a lot,” Saegert said, “and they can end up becoming withdrawn, and have trouble studying and concentrating.” [20]

The small size of a microapartment can be an issue with some tenants, as its confined nature may permit strong odors to linger.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christie, Les (21 June 2013). "Micro-apartments: The anti-McMansions". CNN Money.
  2. ^ O'Neill, Lauren (23 November 2012). "Would you live in a 220-square-foot 'micro apartment?'". CBC News.
  3. ^ Day, Michael (28 February 2012). "Tight fit for Rome's 'micro-apartments'". The Independent.
  4. ^ Gardiner, Virginia (14 January 2009). "24 Rooms Tucked Into One". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Steger, Isabella (2 June 2015). "In Hong Kong, the Apartments Are Fit for a Mosquito". The Wall Street Journal. New York City. Retrieved 21 June 2016. (Subscription required (help)).
  6. ^ "http://www.apartmentguide.com/blog/happy-and-healthy-dog-small-apartment/". External link in |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ Allen, Jonathan (10 July 2012). "New York City "micro" apartments aim to be cosy, not cramped". Reuters.
  8. ^ Carmiel, Oshrat (22 January 2013). "Manhattan to Get First 'Micro-Unit' Apartment Building". Bloomberg News.
  9. ^ Badger, Emily (2013-07-18). "Is It Time to Bring Back the Boarding House?". CityLab - The Atlantic Monthly Group. Archived from the original on 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  10. ^ Hickman, Matt (8 May 2013). "Micro-apartments met with NIMBYist sentiment in Seattle". Mother Nature Network.
  11. ^ Thompson, Lynn (23 April 2013). "Critics of micro-apartments calling for a moratorium". Seattle Times.
  12. ^ Jones, Rupert (11 February 2017). "Welcome to rabbit-hutch Britain, land of the ever-shrinking home". The Guardian.
  13. ^ Miller, Gordon (4 April 2017). "The micro apartment may be a trend that's here to stay". Metro News.
  14. ^ Calver, Tom (19 August 2017). "The 30 sqm squeeze: would you buy a 'micro-home'?". Which?.
  15. ^ Mairs, Jessica. "World's largest co-living complex promises residents "everything at their fingertips"". Dezeen. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Inside London's Largest Co-Living Development". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Co-Living FAQ". The Collective. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  18. ^ Milishenkova, Elena; Kachmazov, George (21 December 2016). "Micro-apartments:the hottest new trend sweeping the German real estate market". Tranio.
  19. ^ "Does Your Apartment Smell? It Could Be the Neighbors".
  20. ^ Urist, Jacoba (19 December 2013). "The Health Risks of Small Apartments". The Atlantic.
  21. ^ Tempest, Jean (2 June 2017). "What no one ever tells you about tiny homes". New York Times.

Further reading[edit]