The pleasures and sorrows of micro-apartment living

I love that so many other Boing Boing writers share my fetish for tiny houses, but I think we can take this small-living-space obsession to the next level: micro-apartments.

The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, the American city with the most hellacious real estate situation of them all, gave tentative approval to micro-apartments of 220 square feet back in 2012. But the move has opponents, many of whom surely fear the situation explored in "Cubicle Dreams," the Channel NewsAsia documentary above: impoverished life in Hong Kong's "partitioned flats" of 75 square feet, 50 square feet, 35 square feet, and so on.

To a Hong Kong cubicle-dweller, all of whom live in technically illegal but effectively approved-of homes, those San Franciscan micro-apartments must look hilariously opulent. Even Steve Sauer's 182-square-foot Seattle micro-apartment, whose DIY craft he reveals above, would seem palatial. But just as they lead the world in mass transit, densely populated East Asian cities lead the world in maximizing the use of vertical urban space.

And then, there's Kisho Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower, previously featured on Boing Boing.

Built in 1972 as the flagship of Japanese architecture's "Metabolist" movement, and a symbol of the ever-self-renewing style of Japanese urbanism, the tower's modular design allows for the straightforward replacement of the cubes that comprise its exterior. Each cube contains a porthole-windowed micro-apartment.

Nakagin Capsule Tower


Nakagin Capsule Tower

Alas, the Nakagin Tower never lived up to Kurokawa's vision. Nobody has ever replaced any of the cubes, and some sit empty in states of serious disrepair. An ongoing argument has failed to decide whether to rehabilitate this monument to retro-futuristic micro-apartment living, or to tear it down. It's my favorite building in Tokyo and I would hate to see it go away — before I get a chance to stay in its Airbnb cube, that is.

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