Is Living in Small Spaces Cruel To Children?


CoteMaison in France published a lovely 40m2 (431 SF) apartment that houses a family of four and a big dog in style. It has a kids room that any kid would love in a raised section so that a bed can slide under for the parents, wonderful use of space and some neat detailing. It was picked up by Apartment Therapy, where the fun begins: some commenters called it cruelty to children.

all photos by Alexandre Bailhache via apartment therapy

First, one said

I do find this unbelievable - I feel sorry for the children since they barely have anywhere to play and weather is not always willing for them to be outside. In the US, the children would be taken.

then another:

Living in a super small space seems fun until kids get involved. Then I feel like it might be kind of cruel to them?

Another thought it must just be a pied-a-terre.

431 square feet is roughly a space 21'x21'. I find it difficult to believe that a family of four plus Labrador are living in a space that small, no matter how well engineered it is. The children's "room" has no exterior windows while the dining table only has three chairs for a family of four. This is their city apartment and they actually live elsewhere.


Another quoted the New York housing code and said it should be illegal.

Sec. [D26-33.03] 27-2075 Maximum permitted occupancy
a. No dwelling unit shall be occupied by a greater number of persons than is permitted by this section.

(1) Every person occupying an apartment in a Class A or Class B multiple dwelling or in a tenant-occupied apartment in a one- or two-family dwelling shall have a liveable area of not less than 80 square feet. The maximum number of persons who may occupy any such apartment shall be determined by dividing the total liveable floor area of the apartment by 80 square feet. For every two persons who may lawfully occupy an apartment, one child under four may also reside therein, except that a child under four is permitted in an apartment lawfully occupied by one person. No residual floor area of less than 80 square feet shall be counted in determining the maximum permitted occupancy for such apartment. The floor area of a kitchen or kitchenette shall be included in measuring the total liveable floor area of an apartment but the floor area for private halls foyers, bathrooms or water closets shall be excluded.

There are addition NYC statutes defining minimum ceiling heights (8') and floor area (80 sq ft), windows, window locations, and window sizes.

It is notable that the Paris apartment would not comply with NYC statutes due to the children's bedroom lacking an exterior window, and may not comply with the minimum square footage per person ratio depending on the size of the bathroom, kitchen, and connecting hallway.


Then the Europeans all jumped in, saying how almost everyone lives in smalls spaces, that

The US-dwellers' lack of awareness is mind blowing. Child cruelty, or they must have a summer house because people can't live like this? Wow. In Europe we lived in a studio apartment until my baby sister was two, and then in a one-bedroom well into secondary school. There was no choice, it never occurred to us that it would be cruel, and believe me none of these places were as well-planned an luxurious as this. And we still had it much better than many third worlds families of 12. Perspective, people.

It is fascinating to watch, and will be a survey tomorrow. More at Apartment Therapy

Living in small spaces:
"Americans Are Moving Up To Smaller, Smarter Homes" Says USA Today
Almost Homeless: Living in an Internet Café
Small Apartments with Big Impact (Slideshow)
Need Some More Room? Add A Hammokum

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