Sweden experiments with compact micro-housing for 'dorm-less' students (video)

Fair Companies
Video screen capture Fair Companies

Though we've seen it done before, for most people tiny housing may not be the best size for a growing family. But it may be just right for students looking for something small and cheap, something that many of Sweden's students are needing as the school year begins and there are no affordable student housing options to be found.

Currently, there's a major shortage of student housing in the Scandinavian country, with as many as 20,000 student left "dorm-less" each year. To cope, the university town of Lund experimented with a pilot student housing unit of 94 square feet back in 2012, and has since expanded the project, building into 22 units arranged in a cluster of bright green micro-apartment blocks. Dubbed "BoKompakt" and built by AF Bostäder, they are a bit bigger at 110 square feet, but like the original, they have their own private toilet and shower, and cost only $375 per month to rent, about half of what other students will typically pay. Filmmaker Kirsten Dirksen of Fair Companies gets a closer look at one of these compact units, sharing the story of how one student feels, living in this small space:

Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture

Built out of local materials and cross-laminated wood, the BoKompakt was designed as the first legal exception to Sweden's minimum size requirement for student housing of 269 square feet. The unit comes with a lofted sleeping space, accessible by ladder. There's plenty of storage for clothes here, and a rack for hanging clothes, which becomes a divider of sorts. Underneath the loft, there is a small sitting space and desk to the rear of the unit. There's also a kitchen table that can fold away.

Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture
Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture
Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture
Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture
Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture

The kitchenette is pretty generously sized; as Jasmine Kitzing, AF Bostäder's student housing spokesperson, explains that this generation of students is used to bigger kitchens back home with the parents and cooking up real meals, so larger kitchens -- with a four-burner stove -- were one of the improvements made over the original version of the micro-apartment.

Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture
Fair Companies© Fair Companies

The European-style bathroom is small but functional, basically one end is the shower (no stall, just a showerhead) and the other is the toilet. So the floor does get wet, but according to the resident, it drains well and works fine for him.

Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture
Fair CompaniesFair Companies/Video screen capture

So far, it appears that the students are content to live here -- it may be small, but it is very cheap. Kitzing stresses that these micro-apartments are merely an option, rather than something that is going to be imposed on everyone. “It’s always a hard balance because Sweden is kind of progressive in a lot of ways so that’s a hard balance trying to make housing really good for everyone and regulate it so there’s good ventilation, accessibility, heating, insulation, things like that," she says. "But also just trying to get a lot of units out there because we have a need of housing.” More over at Fair Companies.

Tags: Less Is More | Living With Less | Small Spaces | Sweden

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