Big Ideas, Tiny Spaces, and the Resurgence of Micro Housing in 21st Century America

Student First Name: 
Jacqueline
Student Last Name: 
Drayer
Student Picture: 
Jacqueline Drayer
Project Picture: 
Jacqueline Drayer's Poster
Expected Year of Graduation: 
2015
Department/Major: 
American Studies
Student Team Members: 
NA
Mentor(s): 
Suleiman Osman, Associate Professor of American Studies
Other Team Members: 
none
Fun Fact About Yourself: 
Next year I will continue doing independent research as a Fulbright Study/Research Grantee in Belgium, where I will research adaptively reused art museum architecture. Fittingly, I also have a great love of waffles!
Project Abstract: 

In the past decade, tiny apartments have mushroomed across American cities. This micro housing boom, referring to self-contained homes with areas of 300 square feet or less, has been covered by traditional publications and by new media alike. Despite varied coverage, micro housing is frequently treated ahistorically, receiving minimal academic study beyond its policy challenges. This project provides the most comprehensive overview yet of U.S. micro apartments. Micro apartments are growing enormously due to a largely unmet demand for walkable urban apartment rentals in major American cities. If the market responds unthinkingly to the momentary demand for micro apartments, without considering why they are so popular (ideology, lack of other options, demographic shifts, generational interest, presently unmet demand), this form of housing is likely to suffer from the same boom/bust cycle that many drivable suburban developments currently face. To avoid this outcome, micro housing must be thoughtfully designed so that the form remains usable for future generations. This requires buildings with innovative design and economic models: micro units with shoji-style walls that can be opened or locked in order to expand and contract individual apartments, making them livable well into the future.