Photos released of New York's first micro-apartment tower by nArchitects


New York architecture firm nArchitects has released new photos of its modular, micro-unit residential building that is intended to serve as a "systemic new paradigm" for cities facing an affordable housing crisis (+ slideshow).

My Micro NY by nArchitects
Image courtesy of Field Condition

Formerly known as My Micro NY, the nine-storey building has been renamed Carmel Place. It is located in Manhattan's Kips Bay neighbourhood.

Totalling 35,000 square feet (3,250 square metres), the tower contains 55 units that range in size from 250 to 370 square feet (23 to 34 square metres). The tall, narrow building is composed of four thin, stepped volumes that are clad in varying shades of grey bricks.

My Micro NY by nArchitects
Image courtesy of Field Condition

The interior photographs show bright studios with sliding glass doors, Juliet balconies and ceiling heights measuring over nine feet (2.7 metres). The firm worked with the company Resource Furniture to create a built-in piece that combines a sofa, bed and storage, so the living room can be converted into a bedroom.

"NArchitects designed the interior of the units to create a sense of spaciousness, comfort and flexibility," said the Brooklyn-based firm, which was founded in 1999 by Eric Bunge and Mimi Hoang.

My Micro NY by nArchitects
Image courtesy of Field Condition

"Within a compact footprint, the architect and developer team prioritised providing residents with as much volume, light, air and views out to the neighbourhoods as possible," it added.

The modular units are made of steel frames and concrete slabs. The firm prefabricated the units off-site in Brooklyn, in turn speeding up the construction process, which was documented in a video.

My Micro NY by nArchitects

Work on the modules began in 2014, and on-site construction started last March. Construction is slated to be completed this March, and the first tenants are scheduled to move in that month.

Leasing is currently underway. More than 60,000 applications have already been received from potential tenants, according to the firm.

The New York Times reports that a majority of the units will have a monthly rent of $950 (approximately £600), which is considered a bargain in Manhattan. The median rental price for a one-bedroom Manhattan apartment is currently $3,400 (approximately £2,200), according to a Bloomberg report.

My Micro NY by nArchitects

"NArchitects  designed exterior and interior spaces with the goal of creating a systemic new paradigm for housing in New York City and other cities with similar demographic and affordability challenges," the firm said.

Though the rental units are intended for low- and middle-income tenants, the building offers amenities more commonly associated with luxury apartment buildings.

Shared amenities include a gym, lounge, community room, and roof terrace. The building also offers bicycle storage, a tenant storage room, and storage lockers that are dispersed throughout the interior.

My Micro NY by nArchitects

With more people living alone, the architects believe there is a large market for micro-apartments. In New York, however, city regulations require that residential units be a minimum of 400 square feet (37 square metres) — regulations that were waived for Carmel Place.

"The city's housing codes have not kept up with [the city's] changing population, and currently do not allow apartments smaller than 400 square feet, nor an entire building of micro-units," said the firm.

My Micro NY by nArchitects

The project was developed with the support of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. It was backed by the real estate company Monadnock Development.

The nArchitects design was chosen through a 2012 competition organised by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. The competition invited designers to propose micro dwellings that could serve as a new model for affordable housing, particularly for one- and two-person households.

My Micro NY by nArchitects

New York is the midst of a housing boom, with rental and condominium towers cropping up throughout the city. Many have been designed by famous architects, including Zaha Hadid, Bjarke Ingels and Álvaro Siza.

Architect Steven Holl has bemoaned the growing presence of supertall residential towers for the ultra-wealthy in Dezeen, calling them "profane spires". Aaron Betsky echoed that thought, writing "Manhattan is theirs, we just get to admire it".

My Micro NY by nArchitects
Image courtesy of Field Condition

Based in New York, nArchitects has a diverse portfolio of residential, cultural and public space projects. It is currently working on the renovation of Chicago's Navy Pier with James Corner Field Operations.

Images courtesy of Pablo Enriquez, unless stated otherwise.

My Micro NY apartment building by nArchitects
Micro unit diagram – click for larger image
My Micro NY apartment building by nArchitects
Amenities diagram – click for larger image
My Micro NY apartment building by nArchitects
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
My Micro NY apartment building by nArchitects
Typical upper floor plan – click for larger image
My Micro NY apartment building by nArchitects
Unit floor plans – click for larger image
  • markus

    Wait, the overall floor plan says, what I presume is the Type A layout, 19′ x 10’3, which equals 194.75 square foot. But, the marketing/type plans say Type A is 302 square foot. How does that work?

    • agagnu

      You buy gross floor area but use net floor area?

      • markus

        Understood, but that makes up for almost 100 square foot?! Pardon the pun, but that is gross.

  • Archi-Nerd

    I don’t think the people who really need these will get them.

  • omnicrom

    Affordable housing needs to be solved through policy, not architecture – at least not in this way. Doing stuff like this is simply kowtowing to the prevailing trend of utterly ridiculous property prices in major urban centres such as New York and London; it won’t solve the issue of affordable housing in such cities.

    In fact it does quite the opposite. It perpetuates the notion, nay, the sad reality, that these cities, and any half-decent-sized homes within them, are exclusively the domain of the uber rich.

  • Anna Kaim

    It would make a great dormitory maybe. Although I do appreciate efforts to make the apartments flexible and compact I can’t help feeling these spaces are barely functional.

    It features a sleeping zone that isn’t separated where you enter through the kitchen and a bathroom without a washing machine. It also features one tiny wardrobe.

    It is no longer economical, but substandard. Also, why make those cascade jumps on the elevation? They seem to have no influence on the apartments apart from making hall/bathroom longer in some of them.

  • KarcsiNéni

    Finally! What NYC desperately needed – way smaller spaces for a lot more money per square foot! Gross.

    • micro

      How is the ratio for other apartments in this area?

    • agagnu

      Hong Kong housing solved the space problems years ago. Its solution is the prototype of expensive cities like New York.

  • Danillo

    Love the rent price! I was paying $1,800 for a cramped 320 square foot apartment in Bed Stuy for years. The city needs more of this!

  • adv

    It is not so much to look at from the outside but this is a noble project. Inside photos make it look much much more liveable than the outside.

    Rental price is impressive for a new building in Manhattan. Let’s build 20 before landlords pay the city off to stop innovation from happening.

  • chris82

    I would love to know the price of these units.

  • Concerned Citizen

    “Micro-apartment”. Is that the new name for dormitory?

  • Fresh Haus

    Considering the overwhelming demand for these, where is the plan to build more?

  • Envision Realty Inc

    For many of our young clients, upsizing isn’t a priority— professional singles rely more on take-out and dine-in solutions over pantries and deep freezers.

  • Jeroen van Lith

    I think the micro apartment is a very interesting concept for not only new buildings, but also as infill concept for empty office buildings.

  • Julien

    Sincerely, this is not a micro apartment tower but just a hotel with rooms for sleeping. Nothing new at all.

  • Hannah

    I think it’s a fine line between a person choosing to live in a small space and being forced to live in an inhumanely small apartment because that’s whats affordable.

    I personally would enjoy living in a micro-apartment, particularly in this busy, single phase of my life. I wouldn’t argue for a second though if someone told me it was simply impossible for them to make their life work in a home this small.

    Also, we need to be creating affordable housing (through policy and good design) for families! This means units with at least two and three bedrooms.

    What kind of a city would we have if the only people who could afford to live there were singles in microsuites and wealthy people who can afford expensive real estate? A city without children is fundamentally unsustainable, a city where only the wealthy can afford to stay, elitist.