The Macro-Unit: An Innovative Housing Concept for Young Urban Professionals


April 4, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA – As millennials continue to move in droves to urban centers, there is increased demand for housing solutions designed to meet their diverse set of needs, says David Senden, principal and board of directors, KTGY Architecture + Planning. “In most urban markets, there is a limited supply of rental units appropriate for a single person with a starting salary budget. This disparity of supply and demand has driven rental prices up to a point where many young adults are spending more on their housing expenses than is typically recommended,” notes Senden. “Young renters in New York, Boston and San Francisco, for example, can easily spend 50 percent or more of their gross salary on rent. Those who choose to pay unsustainably high rents to live the lifestyle they desire may then sacrifice potential savings or risk accruing increased personal debt. Others may have to live in unsafe areas or in substandard conditions.”

Many developers are addressing these issues by decreasing the size of studio apartments in their recent developments. As unit square footages decrease, rents tend to follow. “Over the last 10 years, the average size of a studio apartment has decreased 18 percent, from 614 square feet to 504 square feet. This trend is also linked to the recent rise of the Micro-Unit: super-small studios popping up in urban areas around the nation and abroad,” Senden said.

While decreasing the size of the units is one solution for maintaining affordable rents, not all renters want to live in a tiny apartment by themselves. “The millennial generation thrives on the social interaction of internet sites like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, and by hanging out with groups of friends at coffee shops, breweries and food halls. KTGY’s Macro-Unit is a new community living solution that integrates a connection to a greater social network by combining the modest rent associated with small square footage per resident, with the social interaction of shared common living spaces,” said Senden.

By minimizing the square footage of the private bedrooms and bathrooms, a larger space can be devoted to the common kitchen and living areas, says Senden. “A variety of seating configurations have been incorporated into the living area to serve multiple people or groups of people engaging in smaller conversations. 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 11 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 providing a location for residents to work from home,” Senden stated.

Young adults have been renting large houses and dividing the spaces with their friends to make the rent affordable for many years. According to Senden, the Macro-Unit takes that concept a step further to create a more formalized design solution. “With a variety of management and leasing options and flexibility in the building design, the Macro-Unit can be adapted to the specific needs of a site and target demographic. In keeping with the great diversity of today’s young urban professional community, residential housing solutions intended to serve this community must strive for equally varied housing solutions. The Macro-Unit aspires to contribute to that diversity,” Senden said.