Australia has the largest houses in the world, but while homes on the fringes of our cities are giant by international standards, our inner city apartments are getting smaller – much smaller.
In fact, some new apartments in central Melbourne are being offered for sale at less 50 square metres, a size that some banks consider too small to finance.
According to a recent report in The Age, apartments being squeezed into CBD developments would be illegal in mega cities like Hong Kong, New York and London, while realestateview.com.au reported that one of the smallest apartments to sell recently was just 15 square metres.
The Australian Institute of Architects president elect and Jackson Clements Burrows Architects director Jon Clements says these apartment do have a future in Australia – but should be considered short term accommodation.
“I don’t think its in anyone’s interest or wellbeing to live in a 40 sqm apartment for a long-term period,” he says.
But while tiny apartments are becoming more prevalent, they have long been a feature of densely-packed cities overseas where micro-living has been a necessity. In some urban areas it is embraced and adapted (with a big budget) to suit busy professionals. In others circumstances it is a fall back for impoverished people trying to get off the street.
Mr Clements says a small apartment is more about the design than the size because well-designed tiny apartments can be more liveable than a poorly designed larger apartment.
Here are examples around the world of all kinds of tiny homes.
Where: 113/546 Flinders Street, Melbourne
How big: 15.3 sqm – probably smaller than your living room
Above is a YouTube tour of the building by SlipetskyProperty when it was on the market in 2011. Another apartment in the same building on Flinders Street, apartment 98 sold recently. It is 18 square metres.
Where: Kember Street, London
How much: £737 a month ($A1332)
This apartment went viral globally with headlines screaming it is “horrifyingly small”. It’s that cramped that you could cook a meal from the bed. London’s small living also made headlines when this 80 sqft (7.43 square metres) apartment went on sale.
Where: Tiny flats in Hong Kong
These photos speak for themselves. The premium on space for people in Hong Kong means individuals, migrant workers and entire families need to cram their lives into spaces not much bigger than the typical Australian laundry.
These photos, taken by local advocacy group Society for Community, show living quarters so cramped the photos had to be taken from the roof.
What: Coffin apartments, Tokyo
How big: 2.44 square metres
“Coffin apartments” in Tokyo, Japan made headlines for their expense, reported at $600 – $1000 a month and their size – about 2.44 sqm of bed space. The “coffins” are located in shared house with communal bath, toilet and kitchen for residents. Not all are as expensive and these small sleepers are touted as an alternative to the “blue tent cities” where many of Japan’s homeless reside.
Where: Montorgueil quarter
How big: 12 square metres
The city of love is also one of the first cities of tiny apartment living. Above is architect Julie Nabucet’s 12 sqm apartment which started life as an empty room before she transformed it into a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. It’s like the apartment version of Jenga.
It’s almost unsurprising that the city of New York has embraced micro-sized housing and has found a way to make it work. Here’s two teeny tiny examples.
Where: Upper West Side
How big: 41.8 square metres
This “origami” apartment seems like it could only exist somewhere like New York. Teacher Eric Schneider bought the apartment in 2005 and spent $70,000 converting it into such a useable space he stayed for almost 10 more years. It morphs and changes into four distinct rooms.
Where: East Village
How big: 30.66 square metres
This tiny apartment houses a couple, Emily and Mark, who entered into the Apartment Therapy “Small Cool” competition. Their tip for small living – clean up after yourselves.