The Micro-Unit Test

by Shilpi Paul

The Micro-Unit Test: Figure 1
Rendering of a micro-unit planned for The Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront.

DC may want to take a cue from New York when it comes to testing out how people like living in small living spaces.

Starting in a couple days, five New Yorkers will be spending 24 hours in an open micro-unit exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, reported DNAinfo New York.

The exhibit “Making Room: New Housing for New Yorkers”, which we wrote about in January, is in its last month at the museum. The exhibit coincided with Mayor Bloomberg’s micro-unit competition, and displayed a 325-square-foot apartment completely equipped with space-maximizing furniture, a TV, and kitchen wares.

On August 16th, five people will each be spending a full 24-hour cycle at the space, becoming part of the exhibit while interacting with visitors, and tweeting and instagramming their experience.

Four of the guests will stay in pairs: two as single roommates in separate beds, and one couple. The live exhibit will last for three days, though visitors will only be able to see the guests between 10 am and 6pm. Several of the participants are employees or interns at the museum, and all have experience living in small homes.

While a mere 24 hours should not be considered the main litmus test for whether this type of living is feasible, it is one way to test out whether or not micro-unit living makes sense on a large scale. With all the micro-units in the pipeline for DC, should our city host a similar exhibit?

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/five_guests_to_live_in_museum_microunits/7455


  1. Katie said at 3:14 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    Yes and yes. DC has a number of museums where a similar exercise would make sense and as the article states, there are a number of small unit projects coming to the city. A 24-hour living experience in these small quarters (or better yet, a week-long stay) and the resulting feedback would be quite valuable. Heck, I'll be the guinea pig!
  1. Kevin said at 3:18 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    Spending 24 hours in one of these in a museum on display and interacting with people has very little to do with the experience of living in one. It's simply a PR stunt. That said, I support the development of micro-unit (aka small studios).
  1. Adam L said at 4:10 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    I would never live in a micro-unit, but if folks want to go for it more power to them.
  1. Hanna said at 4:15 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    I dumped my last boyfriend because of his micro-unit.
  1. Jeff K said at 4:17 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    I don't understand why it's so inconceivable to live in 325 sqft. I live in a 350 sqft one bedroom condo in DC, and I'm not making too many compromises. Save the trip to the museum and just come by and see what it's like at my place.
  1. found said at 4:17 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    I agree with Katie, but also Kevin. I think it is a good exercise to get a sense of what living in such a small place is like, but 24 hours just isn't enough time. Make it like the Bio-Dome where the subjects have to live there for a year. And, yes, DC has plenty of museums where this could be done, so why not.
  1. Brock said at 6:15 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    Maybe Hanna and Jeff K should get together? Nah, on second thought, it would never work out.
  1. Wolf #6 said at 9:08 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    Memo to Jeff - Hanna is not interested in testing another guy with a micro unit.
  1. LILLY said at 9:32 pm on Wednesday August 14, 2013:
    How is this a test? I lived in a 324 sq ft apartment for 2 years in DC.
  1. DCShaw said at 3:48 am on Thursday August 15, 2013:
    Years ago our ancesters lived in caves with no plumbing or running water. Have we become some arrogant, pommpus, and "civilized" that an air conditioned room with plumbing, electric, Kitchen, washer/dryer, etc... has to be grand in size, in order to be acceptable. Apparently some greedy silver spoon feed Yuppies think so.
  1. Cooch said at 3:14 pm on Thursday August 15, 2013:
    DCShaw is right! We should continue to live as our prehistoric ancestors did.

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