According to a new U.S. Census Bureau report, in 1970, only 17 percent of the U.S. population was living alone, but in 2012, the proportion of single-person households increased more than 10 percentage points, to 27.4 percent. This connotes that the needs of housing for single-person households has increased and the needs are meant to increase more as well. Also, this implies the required living area per household is decreasing.
This phenomenon is going to be more prevailing not only in Western countries, where people generally live independently even before marriage, but also in Asian countries, where people generally live together with their parents until their marriage. For instances, in Korea, apartments with 3 or 4 bedrooms, over 1,200 sq. ft, was typical for leasing up until just several years ago. These days, however, studio and one bedroom apartment are in trend of housing market. Through this phenomenon, we can recognize that the needs of a single-person households are gradually, but considerably, increasing.
In this post, I would like to introduce a micro-house which is not prevalent yet but quite potential. Micro-house is a type of houses built with a minimum space needed for one person.
‘Smart Student Unit,’ designed by Tengbom, of Lund University in Sweden can be a representative example. The intention of this micro-house is to build a unit affordable, energy efficient and adaptable to the student’s body needs for living. Through an efficient layout and the use of cross laminated wood as construction material, the rental fee has been reduced by 50% and carbon footprint has been also dwindled.
The increasing number of single-person households engenders the increasing needs of efficiency. Capsule hotel in Japan is a familiar example of the reduced space and cost efficiency. This hotel, providing a modular room of 2 by 1 by 1.25 m, is established decades ago for business accommodation, and now we can find this type of hotel with the extreme efficiency in China, England, and U.S. as well. (It is called as a pod hotel in U.S.)
In the future, I believe a key word ‘efficiency’ will be more emphasized as adapting to the soaring density of single living in this limited space. Also, it can be considered environmental-friendly as an alternative of reducing carbon footprint. Although this type of housings can lead to isolation and separation problems, the evident expectation is that the needs for housings with shrunk size, increased efficiency and reduced carbon footprint for a single are going to be increased.