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editorial

Housing design: Let 1,000 micro-units bloom

BOSTON HAS a housing shortage. It also has, by some accounts, the highest number of architects per capita in the country. Together, these two facts should make the city a hotbed of creativity in the design of micro-apartments — small but livable units geared toward people of modest means. So far, though, the City of Boston has allowed only a limited trial in the pricey Seaport District. But if the city took a lighter touch, and let local architects’ imaginations flower, the housing that resulted might look much different from what city government would prescribe.

Designing an apartment for a recent graduate with a modest income involves different priorities than designing for a couple with two kids. Earlier this year, a group of young employees at the Boston architecture firm ADD Inc. unveiled a prototype apartment that compresses the necessities of life into 300 square feet — but still has room for in-unit bike parking. One can envision even more radical possibilities: At last year’s TEDxBoston conference, Kent Larson of the MIT Media Lab hinted at how movable walls could allow the same limited space to do multiple duty as a bedroom, home office, and living room.

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