Under the International Building Code an efficiency must have 220 square feet of living area plus additional space for a bathroom, making the minimum feasible size of a micro unit approximately 250 square feet. Meanwhile, national averages hover around 350 square feet. So, what actually is a micro unit?
Local density, demographics, context, mobility, and the economic goals of a project all play a role in determining a micro unit’s footprint. In our south Austin affordable housing complex, Bluebonnet Studios (left), the efficiencies are 440 square feet, but in our east Austin condo project, Fourth& (right), the micro-lofts are an aptly-sized 512 square feet. In other words, there is no rigid definition of what makes a micro-unit micro. Smaller isn’t always cuter, and bigger isn’t always better; we prefer to say, “Less is more… more or less.”
Since mid-summer Forge Craft Architecture + Design designers, Scott Ginder and Jon Hagar, have been spending their Thursday afternoons on the construction site of our latest Foundation Communities project, Bluebonnet Studios. The team is proud to report that the first floor columns are now in place, and SpawGlass will soon start the formwork for the podium. At the end of 2016, Bluebonnet Studios will be home to 107 single adults, including low-wage workers, formerly homeless individuals, veterans, seniors and individuals with disabilities.
This week Forge Craft staff members attended the SxSW Eco conference, where everyone attended informative lectures on affordability, sustainability, mobility, and more. To see some of the photos we took at the event, check out our updates on Facebook!
In the ‘Amenity’ section of the Forge Craft Architecture + Design Field Guide to Micro Units, we take a look at how the development industry defines ‘amenity’ and how that definition changes in the context of a micro-unit building.
Our office’s latest micro-loft project, Fourth&(Austin), champions the motto “small footprint, full life.” By reallocating unit program to a common space, the design team introduces new possibilities for communal activity. The amenity, then, is neither the micro unit’s living room nor the building’s lounge but rather the city at large. With 78702’s accessible transit network and vibrant restaurants and retail, everything there is to love about East Austin is just outside the residents’ doors.