What is a Macro-Unit? A Macro-Unit is a single large dwelling unit with many private bedrooms (each with their own private bathroom) and a common shared kitchen and living area for all residents within the unit to enjoy. The Macro-Unit was developed to be an alternative living opportunity to the increasingly popular Micro-Unit. Geared toward today’s young urban professionals, the Macro-Unit combines the lower rent inherent with smaller square footages, with the increased social opportunities of living with others in a similar life stage in an urban setting.

An eclectic atmosphere, access to public transit and a variety of social opportunities appeal to today’s young professionals, leading them to desire both living and working in an urban setting. The tech industry and other corporate headquarters have responded by shifting the focus of their growth from suburban office parks to urban locations as a way of enticing the best of today’s young talent pool.

Millennials have been defined as those born between 1980 and 2000, making them the generation that is currently finishing college and entering the workforce as independent adults. This generation makes up roughly one-third of the total U.S. population. The current housing trends show the Millennial generation is more likely to choose to live in urban areas than previous generations. In 1980, young adults were 10% more likely than others to live in urban areas. In 2010, young adults were 51% more likely to live in urban areas and those with college degrees were 126% more likely. As we continue to watch the millennial generation move in droves to urban centers, we see an increased need for a variety of housing solutions designed to meet their diverse set of needs.

The lack of residential supply and high cost of living in urban areas makes the desire to live in city centers unattainable for many. Those who find the necessary sacrifices worth the gain, may end up living in unsafe areas or substandard conditions. Others may choose to pay unsustainably high rents to live the lifestyle they desire, but then sacrifice potential savings or lower personal debt.

To provide an opportunity for city living that fits within the budget of typical young professionals, many developers have addressed the need for cost effective market rate housing by decreasing the size of the apartments they develop. We have seen the average size of a studio apartment decrease 18% in the last 10 years. In 2006, the average size of a studio apartment was 614 square feet, and in 2016, the average studio apartment was 504 square feet. In certain areas, where jurisdictions and markets are accepting of unconventional solutions, micro-units with even smaller square footages are on the rise.

What new residential concept could meet the demands of young urban professionals while still keeping their rents manageable?

The Macro-Unit proposes an opportunity for a social living experience, while minimizing the rent cost for each resident by keeping the square footage per person low. By combining the rented square footage area of eleven residents into one large unit, each renter is provided their own small, private bedroom and bathroom, as well as full access to a large, shared kitchen and living area.

The Macro-Unit plan is designed as a quadrant and is intended to share exit stairs and elevators with adjacent units. Internalized corridors make the efficiency of the building area high.

By minimizing the square footage of the private bedrooms and bathrooms, a larger area can be utilized for the common kitchen and living areas. A variety of seating areas have been incorporated into the living space to server multiple people or groups of people engaging in smaller conversation groups at the same time. The lounge seating area in the living room connects through a glass roll-up garage-style door to the large outdoor balcony, expanding the area of the living space. The kitchen provides duplicate appliances to better serve all eleven residents. Two refrigerators, two dishwashers, two microwaves and two ovens make simultaneous cooking projects possible. Booth and bar seating with built-in charging stations are designed for eating and socializing as well as to provide a location for residents to work from home.

While the Macro-Unit was designed to work in a quadrant in an urban setting, the concept is flexible to adapt to a variety of site sizes and locations. The Macro-Unit could also be incorporated into a building with more traditional units as one of many unit plan options. Amenities and management considerations may also vary depending on the specific market and target demographic.