How Small Can an Apartment Be and Still Be Habitable?

©. Vitacon

How small is too small?

We show a lot of tiny houses on TreeHugger, and recently showed some tiny apartments for rent in London, part of the co-living trend. Commenters were not impressed, thinking it barely acceptable for temporary living.

But in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a developer is selling 10 square meter (107 SF) apartments with everything you need (except room to swing a cat) built in. Being a condo, it is definitely more of a long-term thing.

base of building

© Vitacon

A few years back TreeHugger founder Graham Hill’s consultancy LifeEdited was talking to the developer, VITACON, and while this is a different building, it certainly has some LifeEdited touches in the common facilities.

tool library

© Vitacon

Beside the gym, big kitchen for entertaining, and laundromat, there is the trademark tool library...

co-working space

© Vitacon

... and, of course, a co-working space, although I would be sure to have my back to that giant clock.

the gym

© Vitacon

The market for small units is growing; according to Raquel Rolnik, translated for ArchDaily,

There is no doubt that this type of real estate is related to newest trends of family compositions. It is increasingly common for residences to be occupied by only one person, or at most two. According to data from the SEADE Foundation for 2010, in the state of São Paulo, almost 40% of households have these characteristic, 13% of which is made up of a single resident. Therefore, apartment buildings as small as the one that has just been released are not targeted to large families, but couples without children, emancipated young people, divorced people, or even the elderly in an increasingly aging population.

This is indeed a growing market in North America as well, with a larger proportion of the population living alone. But how much space does a single person need, and how much can they get away with?

plan of very tiny unit

© Vitacon

The New Hygienopolis (a commenter notes "Higienopolis is part of Sao Paulo so calling it "New Higienopolis" is quite logical") has a range of unit sizes, but the 100m2 one is the most interesting. Like the units in the collective in London, it seems to be dominated by the bathroom; I wonder why they can’t learn from boats and RVs and just turn the whole toilet and sink area into a shower too.

I love the video, with the invisible resident going through the activities of the day. There is clever storage under the wood floor section, a decent amount of clothing storage and a workable kitchen, all in a very small space.

At some point, you have to wonder if this really makes sense. The developer is already paying for the kitchen, bathroom and common areas, so how much would it really cost to put in a few more inches of space? Is there a minimum floor area that even single people need to live in? If you subtract the kitchen and bath, this apartment’s living space is no bigger than the bed itself.

kitchen in condo

© Vitacon

The theoretical key to making this all work is the communal stuff, the gym and the co-working space, and at least they can go hang out in what looks to be a terrible communal kitchen, with the stove on the island like that. No wonder the people don’t look very happy.

Could you live in this?

Could you live in 107 square feet?