Micro-apartments: rethinking sustainable housing | Australian Dealer Information

Micro-apartments: rethinking sustainable housing | Australian Dealer Information

Totally different houses for various households is essential, says professional

Micro-apartments: rethinking sustainable housing

A world sustainable residing professional has referred to as for a accountable method to creating micro-apartments to fulfill the various wants of a rising inhabitants.

Within the face of a worldwide housing disaster the place an growing inhabitants battles in opposition to a scarcity of viable residing house, micro-apartments are more and more touted as a possible resolution.

However as Colin Chee (pictured above), founding father of sustainable residing advocacy firm By no means Too Small, argues, the dialog round these tiny dwellings wants a significant shift.

Chee recommended shifting past the time period housing affordability and embracing housing accessibility. This reframes the difficulty to embody not simply monetary boundaries, but in addition the wants of various populations, together with:

  • Individuals with disabilities and older people
  • Low-income people and households
  • These requiring bigger residing areas

“In fact, a micro-apartment isn’t the only real reply to sort out the broader problems with housing accessibility, however it may be a part of the larger image,” mentioned Chee. “We’d like various kinds of housing options for individuals from varied backgrounds and totally different family varieties.”

Micro-living: The enduring attract of cities

With Australia being among the many least densely populated international locations on the earth, the dialog round high-density residing could appear counterintuitive at first look.

Given Australia’s inhabitants is predicted to develop to 45.9 million by 2071, the necessity for metropolis residing will seemingly change into extra essential as time goes on.

“Individuals wish to reside in cities,” mentioned Chee. “People have at all times desired to reside in shut proximity to one another for the reason that starting of our existence.”

Chee mentioned good city planning due to this fact performed a vital function in making micro-living profitable.

“We can not construct micro-apartments the place there’s no entry to facilities, public house, or public transport; it is merely inhumane.”

Why Australia’s cities want various housing

Whereas the necessity for high-density designed cities will seemingly enhance over time, does embracing residing in an condominium below 32 sq. meters robotically imply sacrificing high quality for measurement? The reply, like most issues in life, is not black and white.

Whereas the thought of residing in a shoebox may increase eyebrows, Chee emphasised that design is the true differentiator.

“A well-designed micro-apartment could be snug and habitable for single or duo residents. The issue is that we’re giving an excessive amount of energy to builders in Australia to do as they please,” Chee mentioned.

“Slightly than specializing in creating housing, we’re producing funding merchandise, churning out many uninhabitable micro-apartments that give the general public a foul impression that small residing means poor high quality of life.”

This may be seen within the lack of family-friendly housing in metropolis centres, with solely 14% of residences having three bedrooms or extra in line with a 2021 examine.

In lots of cities throughout Australia, in case you have a household and wish a bigger house, you’re compelled to maneuver to the suburbs.

“This leads to our cities changing into demographic havens for younger singles or {couples}, whereas suburbs are full of households,” mentioned Chee.

“There’s no range by way of family sizes. If policymakers put restrictions in place and use large information to foretell the course of our inhabitants, we will restrict the variety of micro-apartments, small residences, and medium-sized residences inside our cities.”

Chee mentioned this information could be communicated to builders, permitting them to cater to market demand.

“It is basically stocktaking – understanding our inhabitants after which offering various kinds of housing to fulfill their wants,” he mentioned.

“In any other case, we threat having too many small residences within the metropolis, which can change into transient housing, making our cities susceptible and fewer resilient to challenges, such because the instances we confronted through the COVID pandemic.”

Customisable micro-apartment residing

Small residing needs to be adaptive and customisable, in line with Chee, catering to particular person existence and desires.  

“We frequently suppose the largest problem for individuals residing in small areas is storage. When builders construct small residences, they usually fill them with ample storage, considering they’re doing an excellent job,” Chee mentioned.  

“Nonetheless, there is not any consideration for the residents’ way of life, tradition, and well-being. All of us reside totally different lives; all of us have totally different wants in our multicultural nation.”

For instance, for those who give an empty 32sqm floorplan to a journalist, a nurse, and somebody in a wheelchair, they might seemingly provide you with very totally different floorplans due to their totally different way of life wants.

A journalist may want lots of storage for books, a pleasant desk dealing with the window to jot down, and a cushty lounge chair to learn.

A nurse may prioritise a cushty place to chill out after work, with a big couch and TV;  whereas low storage entry and an L-shaped open kitchen  with out overhead storage and a kitchen island could be perfect for wheelchair entry.

Chee mentioned it’s completely doable in a 32sqm house, and the trick was “to not overdesign the condominium”.

Nonetheless, present laws usually require builders to finish tasks with a set restrict of storage or joinery for a big fridge and washer.

“In lots of instances, it is an afterthought in design,” Chee mentioned. “Builders use the identical design and replicate it all through the event, leading to inflexibility and a poor high quality of residing in small areas.”

Ditching cookie-cutter residences for shells

So as to cater to the various wants of the inhabitants inside residences, builders and designers would want a distinct method.

Chee mentioned there have been many examples from different international locations that present that once you purchase an condominium, you are shopping for a shell.

“Builders present a primary kitchen, primary rest room, energy factors, and water entry if you’d like a washer,” Chee mentioned. “This will make the price of constructing an condominium extra reasonably priced and customisable to fit your personal want.”

“With this method, you progress in and take your time to furnish it steadily, making the house suit you somewhat than you having to suit into the small house.”

Technological developments and extra merchandise designed for small house residing are making micro-apartments appear extra interesting for many individuals, not solely younger people but in addition singles and the ageing inhabitants.

Chee urged Australian builders and planners to take a look at examples like Singapore and Europe for the way they do small footprint residing and concrete design.

“All of us want to begin speaking about it collectively as a result of housing is a worldwide concern and it’ll higher inform the Australian public about small footprint residing,” Chee mentioned.

“Affordability, sure, accessibility much more so. Solely then do we all know we’re housing our individuals sustainably, making certain well-being for our individuals and enjoying our function as accountable custodians for our nature.”

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