Should Tiny Apartments Come With A Health Warning?

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Slide (2)Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.

Small apartments are nothing new, especially in New York. But, could you live in an apartment that is between 250 and 370 square feet and keep your sanity? That is the question posed by The Atlantic in a recent article about the Mayor Bloomberg-approved housing project featuring these so-called “micro-units.” While the Bloomberg administration applauds this as, “a milestone for new housing models,” the news has been met with criticism pointing out potential health risks the inhabitants could face.

It seems that living in very close quarters is something best experienced in a person’s twenties — and by single people. Add a partner and/or a child into the mix and the risks associated with living in such tiny quarters becomes an issue. Susan Saegert, professor of environmental psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center and director of the Housing Environments Research Group says, “I’ve studied children in crowded apartments and low-income housing a lot and they can end up becoming withdrawn, and have trouble studying and concentrating.” Dak Kopec, director of design for human health at Boston Architectural College and author of Environmental Psychology for Design agrees. He points to research that shows “crowding-related stress,” can cause the rates of domestic violence and substance abuse can increase.

As many of us know, it is can be hard to make a small space feel like a palace, let alone a home. This, too, can have a psychological impact. Samuel Gosling, a University of Texas psychology professor says, “When we think about micro-living, we have a tendency to focus on functional things, like if there enough room for the fridge.… But, an apartment has to fill other psychological needs as well, such as self-expression and relaxation, that might not be as easily met in a highly cramped space.” Click through to read the entire article and let us know in the comments if you think you would want to live in an apartment of that size. (The Atlantic)