Are even tinier apartments the answer to better accommodating the emerging housing needs of major cities? An exhibition at the Museum of City of New York suggests as much, and the “live smarter and smaller” theme seems to be resonating—the popular show on new housing models has been extended to September 15. We asked writer Nancy Lazarus to head over to the museum’s fully built “micro unit” and make herself at home.

About thirty curious visitors filed into a 325-square-foot full-scale studio apartment model on a recent Friday afternoon. The occasion wasn’t a real estate open house, but a chance to experience a highly touted micro-unit called “The Launch Pad.”

The furnished model (pictured above) serves as the centerpiece of “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers,” an exhibition on view through September 15 at the Museum of the City of New York. Amie Gross Architects and interior designer Pierluigi Colombo, founder of Resource Furniture, collaborated on the unit’s design.

Architectural models and design solutions from New York and selected cities worldwide are also showcased. These coincide with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiative to offer more affordable, though smaller-scale, housing options for the growing ranks of single city residents.

An open ambience prevailed inside the micro-unit, not claustrophobia, as skeptical attendees may have expected. They soon learned key elements for optimizing space from Jeffrey Phillip, an organizing pro who specializes in blending style and efficiency.

“We all struggle with living in small spaces, but small spaces are also grand spaces,” Phillip said. He showed visuals to illustrate the advice he offers to space-challenged clients. While a few concepts were conventional, others were counterintuitive. Some mini spaces benefit more from design makeovers.
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