Making Room

Our flagship research project looks at how demographic change is affecting 'the household' and how housing typologies can to evolve to keep up. Making Room incorporates publications, informatics, symposia, events, exhibitions, video and more.

Making Room is a long-term CHPC research initiative exploring how demographic change is affecting ‘the household’ and how different housing typologies can evolve to keep up with emerging housing needs. Through this work, we have developed the Making Room approach to housing policy and planning, which comprises three key areas of scrutiny:

1)    How is the population grouping itself into households?
2)    What are potential options for housing typologies that can support new household arrangements and lifestyles?
3)    How can zoning, planning, subsidy, and building code controls change so that the development of new housing typologies is allowed and even encouraged.

We developed a unique data model and methodology that revealed a substantial mismatch between the types of housing units available in New York City and the shape of our 21st century households. Our diverse households – predominantly single people – are trying to fit themselves into homes and apartments not designed for their needs. And our housing is unable to evolve because the size, shape, and even occupancy requirements of our homes are governed by old-fashioned laws and codes.

Single Male

This analysis, and the application of the Making Room approach, led us to the conclusion that New York City needs to develop three new housing types to accommodate the needs of our real households:

1. Small, efficient studios designed for single person households;
2. Legal shared housing options for unrelated adults;
3. Accessory units to make a single family home more flexible for extended families or additional renters.

In 2009, we hosted an international design symposium to acquaint a New York City audience with housing design innovation occurring all around the world that is responding to the needs of the growing single population, changing demographics, and booming cities.

In 2011, we partnered with the Architectural League of New York to commission developer/architect teams to take on a unique challenge: design an array of accommodating, desirable, safe living units for singles, shared households, and extended families, without the current restrictions of certain housing regulations, including minimum unit size, density calculations, and occupancy standards. We then partnered with the Museum of the City of New York to showcase all of our work on this initiative at the Making Room museum exhibition. The exhibit ran for 9 months, garnered huge international media coverage, and attracted over 150,000 visitors.


Making Room then made policy waves when Mayor Bloomberg issued a Request for Proposals for the adAPT pilot project to implement and test one of these ideas in the marketplace. Developer/architect teams were asked to design and develop a building of micro-units for single adults and small households; the winning submission was developed on a site on East 27th Street in Manhattan by Monadnock and nArchitects. Making Room also inspired changes to the New York City Zoning Resolution in 2016.

This year we are so excited to open the national Making Room exhibition: Housing for a Changing America at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. We hope that the Making Room approach can help urban, suburban and rural areas help to address their housing needs through new typologies.


New Exhibition
Making Room: Housing for a Changing America

Making Room: Housing for a Changing America is a national exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington DC featuring CHPC’s data on how demographic change is affecting households and housing need. And showcasing some exciting housing design strategies that can offer more realistic choices for our 21st century households.

Related Insights
December 12, 2017 - by CHPC
November 25, 2017 - by CHPC
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Your contribution will provide critical support for our research and education work, which shapes key policies to improve housing throughout the city.