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Micro-Living: Why Occupants Downsize Their Dwellings


For much of the 20th century, a large house in the suburbs with a white picket sense was the ultimate material aspiration. As the most tangible aspect of the “American Dream“, millions associated such dwellings with prosperity and success.

Fast forward to the 21st century; the world is awakening to pressing environmental issues due to the threat of climate change. Many of the booming urban centers are facing a housing crisis. As the economic and political systems keep shifting, so do people’s spatial aspirations and needs.

Particularly the last two decades experienced the unstoppable rise of minimalism. In architecture, it has been one of the most defining paradigms of this century thus far.

What’s Micro-Living?

Micro-living, a movement characterized by making the most of the smallest possible spaces, increasingly appeals to minimalist frontiers. Especially as the rising property prices and booming urbanization strain the budgets, from New York to Shanghai, more people are moving to so-called “micro-apartments”.

Their sizes typically ranging between 22 and 40 square meters, micro-apartments often push the creative limits of interior design. They tend to be one-bedroom or studio apartments optimized for functionality and sustainability. The modern designs boast a more refined sense of style.

Micro-living quickly established itself in the psyche of global popular culture too: Hit shows like Tiny House Nation on Netflix or Never Too Small on YouTube garnered millions of views worldwide.

Micro-living is an architectural approach also favored by the minimalism-loving and tech-savvy millennials. There are currently almost 1,5 million posts on the visual networking platform Instagram tagged #tinyhouse. The ease in which micro-living already clung to a global conversation is a bellwether to a shift of culture.

How Will Micro Living Affect Construction?

Hence, micro-living is not a micro-trend or a new real estate buzzword.

With the accelerating environmental concerns and booming population, millions around the world need creative spatial solutions to make the most of their resources. The growing affection towards micro-living is among the manifestations of this global tide.

Some urban planners hail micro-living as the future of city life, as a sustainable, connected, and people-centric solution.

Particularly in dense and high-cost urban centers like Hong Kong or San Francisco, the demand for micro-apartments is soaring. In some parts of the world, the supply doesn’t meet the demand.

Living a large life in the space of up to 40 square meters might suit everyone’s housing needs. However, the micro-apartment firmly established itself as an emerging real estate market.

The rising demand for micro-apartments will likely be among an ecosystem of solutions urban centers need to accommodate rising populations efficiently.

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