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. The Macro-Unit concept was developed as an alternative living opportunity to the increasingly popular Micro-Unit. Geared toward today’s urban dwellers, the Macro-Unit combines the lower rent inherent to smaller square footages with the increased social opportunities of living amongst others in an urban setting.

An eclectic atmosphere, access to public transit, and a variety of social opportunities appeal to many of 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 to this trend by shifting the focus of their growth from suburban office parks to urban locations with the hopes of enticing the best of today’s 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. 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 needs.

The lack of residential supply and high cost of living in urban areas make the desire to live in city centers unattainable for many adults. 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 their desired lifestyle but then sacrifice potential savings or opportunities to lower personal debt.

Many developers have approached the issue of affordability 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.

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.

Furthermore, 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.