Mini-homes ‘smaller than a prison cell’ reignite housing debate
The global trend towards micro-living has again come under scrutiny, this time after a firm in Koszalin revealed plans for a housing block containing residential units smaller than the average Polish jail cell.
Split on two levels, plans for the matchbox apartments imagine a kitchenette and bathroom on ground level, and then a small space for a bed above. Accessed by a steep ladder, the narrow sleeping area would include a slit window and a few shelves set aside for personal possessions.
To be located on a plot found on Modrzejewska 47, the projected building would have 12 apartments in total. At their largest, these would cover 13 sq/m; at the other end of the scale, meanwhile, would be a unit measuring in at just 2.5 sq/m.
The idea of the Koszalin-based real estate firm 100-Sio Synergia, the project has since gone viral around the country and reignited Poland’s housing debate.
Social activist Jan Śpiewak has helped fuel discussion after slamming the project on social media.
Taking to Facebook, Śpiewak wrote: “Prison regulations state that a prisoner is entitled to at least three square metres of space. This innovative project, therefore, combines the best traditions of the Polish penal system with that of the Polish real estate developer.”
Responding, Krzysztof Stosio, the CEO of 100-Sio Synergia, defended his firm’s vision. In a statement to the press, Stosio said: “These apartments are a response to the needs of the market. The building and premises are not intended for sale, their purpose is only for rent.”
Continuing, Stosio said: “Imagine a person coming to work from another city with the aim of maximizing his or her earnings so as to provide for their family or other such things.
“They could opt to rent a 2.5 sq/m room for PLN 300 per month, or choose to spend PLN 700 somewhere else on a larger room but find themselves sharing a bathroom and kitchen with others… Our concept will give people the opportunity to wash, cook and sleep in privacy.”
Emphasizing freedom of choice, Stosio added that the project was a clear reaction to the needs of the housing market.
Speaking to the Noizz portal, the CEO went on to express his gratitude to Jan Śpiewak for inadvertently publicizing the project.
Spurred by increasing urbanization, population growth, soaring house prices and efficiency, micro-living has become something of a worldwide fad. However, whilst many concepts have garnered critical acclaim for their style and ingenuity, others have sparked heavy criticism.
In Poland, the topic has found itself increasingly in the news with many likening such projects to battery farms.
In November, one Warsaw developer came under fire after sub-dividing a 47 sq/m apartment to create five flats.
On a larger scale, JW Construction have faced heavy flak for Bliska Wola Tower, a residential project on the fringe of the capital’s business district.
Set to contain 1,500 apartments on a space of just 8 hectares, the scheme has been panned by both the public and press with its high-density dwellings earning the development the unenviable nickname of ‘Hong Kong’.
Making use of legal loopholes, developers have sought to dodge a law that states an apartment must at least offer 25 sq/m of space by instead marketing micro-units as “investment premises” or “usable space”.
Set to rumble on, the debate surrounding micro-living will likely get louder across the planet; however, whilst the battle lines between activists and developers have already been drawn the answer, say many housing experts, lies somewhere in between: finding a middle ground that aligns market needs with a quality-driven user experience.