The combination of global recession and stagnating wages have meant that many young people now find it difficult to get a foot into the housing market. In addition, increasing numbers of people are becoming more mobile, moving more frequently to where the jobs are. All things considered, these factors are created a so-called "generation of renters," precipitating a shift in perspective, where the old ideal of static, single-family homeownership is giving way to alternatives like co-housing, cooperatives or even "plug-and-play" rentals.
In Amsterdam, Dutch construction services company Heijmans is experimenting with a small, prefab portable rental unit that is affordably aimed at professional singles aged 25 to 35. The Heijmans ONE is targeted at these well-educated youngsters, who mostly have full-time jobs, but make too much money to be eligible for low-income housing, and can't afford the regular rentals in the city. It's a segment that the company expects to grow to 700,000 in the Netherlands alone by the year 2050.
To tackle this growing "social problem," the concept behind the ONE is to provide a sizable, mobile rental unit equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, lofted bedroom and outdoor terrace at a very affordable price (€700 or USD $850). Comparably priced regular apartments in town measure only a fraction of the ONE's size. The mobility of these units mean that they can be placed in under-utilized or vacant urban properties -- be they owned by the city or by developers -- in order to jumpstart local development. (Of course, we hope that the biodiversity of these potential urban "wild spaces" will be maintained too.)
The ONE's layout is reminiscent of a larger, taller tiny home, but complete with a full kitchen and a true double-height space.
The use of prefabrication means the unit is affordably and efficiently made and can be delivered to almost any site in town. The company's aim to make them self-sufficient, generating their own energy (according to Inhabitat, the two first units have already been outfitted with solar panels to partially supplement their energy use). Two lucky applicants have moved in earlier this month, and Heijmans will launch another 30 more units by next year. To see more, check out the Heijmans website.