In August of 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced with great enthusiasm a competition for the creation of a pilot building composed entirely of so-called micro-apartments. These miniature dwellings, to be packed into a building on East 27th Street in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan, would have to be marvels of design: the task was to create livable and desirable residential spaces using just 250 to 350 square feet per unit.

But Sarah Watson, deputy director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC), a research and advocacy organization that played a key role in introducing the idea of micro-apartments to New York City, acknowledged that the pilot project in Kips Bay only addressed housing scarcity for a small, wealthy slice of the single-person market. “This is not in any way solving New York’s affordable housing issues,” she said. “You can’t solve these problems with just one project.” Instead, Watson said, the project helped fill a gap in the kinds of housing stock available to single people, especially those preoccupied with living in Manhattan.