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Micros for the Middle: A Field Guide to Microunits

Through our series of “Forge Craft Field Guides” we offer you a glimpse into our burgeoning knowledge base and invite you to join us in our mission to design intelligently, create beautifully and dream big.

Capital Studios by Forge Craft

In our short but productive history, Forge Craft has emerged as a leader in Austin’s creative culture with a reputation for incisive thinking, strong investigative inquiry and innovative modern design that keeps in step with the evolving ways in how people live, work and play.

The pace of our industry pushes us to keep our heads down and drive, but we’ve learned that it’s equally important to pause, breathe, reflect, learn. And now share.

Part of our process is to regularly distill and archive the many new initiatives in which we are immersed. The lessons learned from such endeavors set the foundations for continued discovery and fuel the inquiry and resourcefulness we employ in developing better strategies and solutions.

Through our series of “Forge Craft Field Guides” we offer you a glimpse into our burgeoning knowledge base and invite you to join us in our mission to design intelligently, create beautifully and dream big. In this, our first installment, we’ll take a look at microunits, the newest sliced bread in the real estate housing industry.

The microunit isn’t actually so new, but a retread of long-existing housing types such as the efficiency and studio apartment, squatter loft space, dormitory and youth hostel, boutique hospitality and co-op housing. The modern version evolved as a response to economic factors, a promising solution to the problem of perpetual skyrocketing housing costs in dense cities like New York and San Francisco. With the high cost of living in these cities, renters had no choice but to modify existing building stock to their needs, purposely overpopulating dwelling units beyond listed bedroom counts. Such practices eventually captured the imagination of design academia, the professional development and marketing communities and even engendered a competition that culminated in 2013 in an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York which yielded the first true microunit housing commission in New York.

Up till now much has been written on microunits but with few built examples to back up the rhetoric. As real microunit projects like those by Forge Craft and Carmel Place take root, we get to see theory in action. The prognosis is good. Microunits work. We need to keep building them.

But we’ve found though that it isn’t a simple matter of making apartments smaller. The alchemy required to find the gold in these concepts is dependent on many factors including human desire, socioeconomic and demographic factors, local regulatory parameters, financial and market trends and (naturally) location, location, location.

Click here to view the full white paper.

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