Above is a rendering of micro-apartments being stacked in NYC, which Pop Up City notes will occur this spring. We’ve written about these micro-apartments before—they’re meant for singles earning less than $77K a year and mirrors the kind of small, modular housing found in dense cities like Tokyo. Only 55 micro-units will be available for rent once this project is completed.

Meanwhile, in a dense city on the other side of the U.S., 31-year-old Luke Wiseman and five of his friends—in “an attempt to create a more affordable model of urban home ownership”—have bought a small lot in West Oakland where they are living in shipping containers that have been reworked. From Pacific Standard’s “The New American Starter Home”:

Walking inside Iseman’s shipping container, which measures 192 square feet, is not unlike entering a friend’s studio apartment. Space is at a premium. Along the back wall, his bed is elevated to the height of a standing desk for convenient double-duty as a workspace. Beneath the bed are shelves for his clothing. Above the bed, a projector screen drops down to give privacy from the rest of the room and provide home entertainment. A full-size door and four windows, all cut out of the walls of the container by Iseman, provide easy access and plenty of natural light. The floors are varnished bamboo. The container can run comfortably off-grid, although it is currently hooked up to the city’s water supply. Solar panels on the roof provide electricity—more than enough to run household items including Wi-Fi, a video projector, and an outdoor washing machine. A hose connected to the container supplies the water; a propane tank heats the container and the water, and fuels the stove. Iseman paid $12,000 to convert his container into a finished home, and his company, Boxouse, recently began accepting orders for similar units, which cost between $10,000 and $29,000, depending on the level of customization.

A steel building at the front of the lot contains two communal bathrooms and a kitchen for the lot dwellers to use.

The micro-units I can get behind—there just aren’t enough of them. Iseman’s shipping container living situation seems to be an iteration of the Tiny House lifestyle, which doesn’t work for everyone (especially families), and though it fixes a problem for Iseman (it’s expensive to rent in the Bay Area!), his solution ignores some of the real sources for housing shortages happening in major cities. If the shipping container is the new American starter home, the future is looking very bleak.



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