Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Some down sides to micro-residences

Most people have applauded planned changes underway in residential housing standards across the country's major urban areas, including Fairfax County, to allow very small apartments to be built.   How small depends on the location, but generally these "residential studio units" (RSUs) as they are called in draft Fairfax County legislation run from 300-500 square feet, and smaller in places like New York City (275-350 SF). 

Now some experts are pointing out these small dwellings may create significant health risks. Here is an excerpt from at Atlantic Cities article on the matter:
. . . as New York City’s “micro-apartment” project inches closer to reality, experts warn that micro-living may not be the urban panacea we’ve been waiting for. For some residents, the potential health risks and crowding challenges might outweigh the benefits of affordable housing. And while the Bloomberg administration hails the tiny spaces as a “milestone for new housing models,” critics question whether relaxing zoning rules and experimenting with micro-design on public land will effectively address New York’s apartment supply problem in the long run.
“Sure, these micro-apartments may be fantastic for young professionals in their 20's,” says Dak Kopec, director of design for human health at Boston Architectural College and author of Environmental Psychology for Design. “But they definitely can be unhealthy for older people , say in their 30’s and 40’s, who face different stress factors that can make tight living conditions a problem.”
Home is supposed to be a safe haven, and a resident with a demanding job may feel trapped in a claustrophobic apartment at night—forced to choose between the physical crowding of furniture and belongings in his unit, and social crowding, caused by other residents, in the building’s common spaces. Research, Kopec says, has shown that crowding-related stress can increase rates of domestic violence and substance abuse.
The article goes on to give a reasonably balanced view of the pros and cons of micro-apartments from a variety of perspectives.

Click here to read the full Atlantic Cities article.  

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