MicroPolis is a proposal for a new housing typology of micro-homes in metropolitan centers such as New York City. The aim it to present creative, inclusive and positive design solutions to the urban affordable housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The prevalence of unoccupied and unusable space presents an opportunity to rethink affordable housing throughout the city. It is a modular system of prefabricated, energy-efficient and cost-effective micro-homes that can be installed in already built empty urban spaces.
The number of units and their organization will be adapted to the buildings in which they will be deployed. Each unit is 270 square feet and features an ADA bathroom, queen-size bed, kitchen and living/working space. The staggering of the units creates a push-and-pull relation, generating balconies for most units. It is also uniquely designed to enable staggered balconies to provide some sun exposure and shade coverage during extreme weather conditions. Large public outdoor terraces provide social and co-working spaces and safe places for children to play.
Reusing built spaces has environmental advantages; it conserves materials and resources, lowers carbon footprint, and brings old, energy-inefficient buildings up to the current code. Carefully selected building materials and cladding ensure thermal insulation to lower energy use and costs for these micro-homes.
MicroPolis will help the city achieve a more equitable landscape. Installing these complexes in wealthier neighborhoods and business districts will improve living standards for communities of color, immigrant groups, and low-to middle-income families. Research has shown that a child’s home zip code is one of the best predictors of adult success in life. Living in such areas will give families better access to daycare, education, and a safer neighborhood for their children. Constructing affordable homes within centrally located luxury developments will also decrease health risks for essential workers who bear long commutes daily.
MicroPolis celebrates the city’s diversity by increasing equity and valuing the range of people needed to make the city thrive. Adding affordable housing units throughout the city’s higher-end neighborhoods will make New York City more integrated, resilient, and equitable.