Architecture

Stackable apartments offer a tiny solution to homelessness

Stackable apartments offer a t...
The idea is that multiple MicroPAD units would be stacked atop each other to a maximum height of 12 stories
The idea is that multiple MicroPAD units would be stacked atop each other to a maximum height of 12 stories
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The prototype MicroPAD unit was completed in the last week of October, 2016
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The prototype MicroPAD unit was completed in the last week of October, 2016
The MicroPAD bathroom includes a full-sized shower
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The MicroPAD bathroom includes a full-sized shower
Inside the MicroPAD bathroom
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Inside the MicroPAD bathroom
Dubbed MicroPAD, the modular dwellings comprise a floorspace of just 160 sq ft (14 sq m)
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Dubbed MicroPAD, the modular dwellings comprise a floorspace of just 160 sq ft (14 sq m)
The MicroPAD interiors include a bathroom with shower and toilet inside, a kitchenette, bed, plenty of storage space, and a desk
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The MicroPAD interiors include a bathroom with shower and toilet inside, a kitchenette, bed, plenty of storage space, and a desk
The MicroPAD could also be outfitted for a disabled-friendly layout
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The MicroPAD could also be outfitted for a disabled-friendly layout
The idea is that multiple MicroPAD units would be stacked atop each other to a maximum height of 12 stories
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The idea is that multiple MicroPAD units would be stacked atop each other to a maximum height of 12 stories
The MicroPAD is well-stocked with modern features and amenities
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The MicroPAD is well-stocked with modern features and amenities
According to Panoramic Interests, the MicroPAD apartment blocks could be assembled above existing buildings
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According to Panoramic Interests, the MicroPAD apartment blocks could be assembled above existing buildings
Architectural render of the MicroPAD interior
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Architectural render of the MicroPAD interior
Architectural render of the MicroPAD interior
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Architectural render of the MicroPAD interior
Architectural render of the MicroPAD floorplan
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Architectural render of the MicroPAD floorplan
View gallery - 12 images

Homelessness is as big an issue in San Francisco as any other major city, but local firm Panoramic Interests has designed a self-contained stackable tiny apartment that it promotes as a viable solution. MicroPAD modular dwellings comprise a total floorspace of just 160 sq ft (14 sq m), but include a kitchenette, sleeping area, and bathroom.

The idea is that multiple MicroPAD (Prefabricated Affordable Dwelling) units would be stacked atop each other, to a maximum height of 12 stories, depending on the site. Ideally, they would be installed in an infill area (the unused space between existing buildings unattractive to developers) to keep costs down. The firm even says it could build MicroPAD apartment blocks atop existing developments, such as parking garages, for example.

Comprising a steel shell with a fair amount of glazing, the homes look very snug but their 9 ft (2.7 m)-high ceilings should help make it feel less cramped inside. The design and layout looks well thought-out and the amenities are generous, including a bathroom with shower and toilet, a kitchenette, bed, storage space, and a desk. A layout suitable for disabled occupants can also be installed.

Dubbed MicroPAD, the modular dwellings comprise a floorspace of just 160 sq ft (14 sq m)
Dubbed MicroPAD, the modular dwellings comprise a floorspace of just 160 sq ft (14 sq m)

Panoramic Interests is currently drumming up interest for its first MicroPAD build in San Francisco. If successful, the firm will prefabricate MicroPAD units in a factory before they are assembled on-site. It then plans to lease the development to the city, which could in turn decide which homeless people live in the tiny apartments.

According to the firm, the MicroPAD exceeds San Francisco's earthquake regulations and can be built up to 50 percent quicker than a typical non-prefabricated project. It also says that building costs could be up to 40 percent less than a conventional, non-prefab project. Though the images show the MicroPAD placed on a trailer, that's just to make it easier to move around the recently-completed prototype.

Inhabitat reports that rent (paid by the city) would come in at around US$1,000 per month. Future plans for the project include rolling out the idea to other cities.

Source: Panoramic Interests

View gallery - 12 images
13 comments
MQ
And how is this different to a converted shipping container.
Modular living solutions have been around for years, naysayers say nay, while fan bois cheer... One day A solution will achieve real acceptance, untill then it is merely a typical Architectural honours project/
MerlinGuy
I want to go on record as predicting that this will never work. After years of following tiny houses on this and other tech sites it is obvious that they all share one important aspect. They are all priced much higher per square foot than standard housing. Housing the homeless needs to be affordable. This is an absurd idea which plays the poverty card in an attempt to sell an overpriced product.
VincentWolf
12 flights without an elevator? That's blatantly illegal per almost every city code in every city in the nation.
Expanded Viewpoint
Yeah, just what we need, more overpriced encouragement for people to assume little to no responsibility for their condition and become homeless. How about we do this instead? We get rid of the fiat paper currency financial system that uses bookkeeping entries that are created out of thin air and even less than that, we teach our children sound and actually workable economic FACTS, not drug induced hallucinations, we jail all of the banksters that have been ruining economies all over the world, we throw ALL politics into a trash can, and we do nothing but encourage free market enterprise?? Then there wouldn't be any need for these stupid wastes of time and other resources.
Chizzy
with housing so expensive in the big cities, especially near downtown workplaces, it won't be long till a developer sees this as a way to maximize profit. I can imagine a developer turning the top floor of his parking garage into very profitable apartment complex of tiny spaces. at $1000 per unit, in each parking space, times 12 (stacked to the max height) that's $144000 a year for each parking space. If its downtown which is a high rent district then the price could even go higher, and stay at max occupancy.
Daishi
SF has very strict building code for earthquakes. The is a reason the city has endured some pretty strong quakes and remained standing while buildings in places like Hati were annihilated. It makes more sense to have a single cohesive design than the build these things to be stacked 12 high and as others have said the cost per square foot of larger housing structures is significantly cheaper than these tiny houses so these would be the exact opposite of what you would want in order to solve an affordable housing problem.
I'll go one further and say there are efficiencies to be had allowing multiple people to share spaces like kitchens and bathrooms rather than have multiple separate kitchens and bathrooms per occupant.
Actual affordable housing for homeless would look suspiciously like Army barracks with rows and rows of bunkbeds with a wall locker for personal stuff and large bathrooms shared by dozens of people.
This is most likely an attempt to make a pile of money selling expensive tiny homes to government in the name of helping the poor. I give it poor marks and 1 bedroom 700 square foot apartments in San Francisco go for $750,000
Maybe what homeless in SF need more than anything is a bus ticket. I'm selling a 3 bedroom 1200 square foot rental property with a view and a yard in rural NY for $40k. The public schools are good and crime rates are almost nonexistant to boot.
Maybe we should start building more homeless shelters in places that aren't SF.
BothSides
The negativity in early comments is interesting. Since there are two sides to every problem, I would like to hear from the city what the costs per year per homeless person related to homelessness look like on the city books. How much for police, fire, healthcare and all other social services? What about petty theft and vandalism by homeless people?
Is it an absolute certainty that every person selected to live in a unit is simply looking to game the system and have a free ride for life? Is every homeless person hopeless too?
Where does it say that the units will be stacked 12 stories at every infill site? What do the projected costs look like? Could some homeless people be trained to build the units and create jobs for homeless in this process?
So many possibilities for tiny homes. Housing affordability in SF is near an all time low once again. There are many young people who would live small in the city in an in-fill project just to live small and save for the future.
Would every project for this type of unit have to be for street homeless? There are working people who would buy these units to have affordable housing in the city.
Come on folks, give the concept a chance and look at it from all sides before you incinerate the concept.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really neat.
DavidMichaelLallatin
Optimized for the purpose, these would be useful for the one-way container traffic to places like the arctic, where families have a year's supply of consumables barged in, and dropped in their yard. The empty containers, when I worked in a number of villages, often were crudely adapted for housing.
DavidFriedlander
My lord, I'm pretty flabbergasted by the level of naysaying going on here. I am quite familiar with this project and believe in it. A few responses to some of the comments: 1. It's not a shipping container, but rather a purpose built housing module that conforms to intermodal shipping container size, making it very easy and cheap to ship. It has innumerable benefits over shipping containers that are too many to go into here. 2. Yes, they cost more per square foot, but these things need to be seen in context of a city where ANYTHING costs $1000/square foot (minimum) to build. In that context, these cost 40% less than conventional construction. Yes, stick building in a place with low property values is cheaper, but that has little to do with this project. 3. Who said they don't have elevators? 4. The average "chronically homeless" San Franciscan costs the city $80K/year in psychiatric, emergency and police services. The MicroPAD, as proposed, is designed to house them and provide effective therapeutic care, costing the city a lot less than they'd otherwise spend and possibly making longterm progress toward ameliorating the city's homeless crisis. 5. These are fully compliant to the city's seismic requirements. The developer has built hundreds of units in the area. This is not some flash in the pan idea.