Mini Apartments and Next-Wave Prefab, Part 1

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October 3, 2012
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  Here's the original project site in Berkeley, California, which was intended for student housing. Later, the developers purchased a site in San Francisco, anticipating a higher demand for micro-units in that city—where, after all, 41 percent of the population are single people living on their own.
    Here's the original project site in Berkeley, California, which was intended for student housing. Later, the developers purchased a site in San Francisco, anticipating a higher demand for micro-units in that city—where, after all, 41 percent of the population are single people living on their own.
  • 
  This is an early rendering of the rear elevation of the Berkeley project, designed by Taeko Takagi, Zeta Communities’ in-house architect. Like the final version, this was conceived as a prefab multi-unit building.
    This is an early rendering of the rear elevation of the Berkeley project, designed by Taeko Takagi, Zeta Communities’ in-house architect. Like the final version, this was conceived as a prefab multi-unit building.
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  Early conceptual renderings of the units ended up pretty close to the final version, and included plenty of storage space and convertible built-in furniture.
    Early conceptual renderings of the units ended up pretty close to the final version, and included plenty of storage space and convertible built-in furniture.
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  This photo shows one of the first to-scale physical models produced, showing how the built-in furniture would work.
    This photo shows one of the first to-scale physical models produced, showing how the built-in furniture would work.
  • 
  Panoramic Interests developed this 160-square-foot prototype unit, which they installed in a warehouse in Berkeley. A MIT graduate student lived in the prototype for three weeks and provided feedback that shaped the final design.
    Panoramic Interests developed this 160-square-foot prototype unit, which they installed in a warehouse in Berkeley. A MIT graduate student lived in the prototype for three weeks and provided feedback that shaped the final design.
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  Her requests included a slightly bigger and wider space, to better accommodate visitors; a bigger sink that would fit pots and pans; a larger "adult-size" fridge; and an enclosed bathtub/shower (versus the Euro-style tiled bathroom with open shower the developers installed in the prototype). All these suggestions made it into the final design.
    Her requests included a slightly bigger and wider space, to better accommodate visitors; a bigger sink that would fit pots and pans; a larger "adult-size" fridge; and an enclosed bathtub/shower (versus the Euro-style tiled bathroom with open shower the developers installed in the prototype). All these suggestions made it into the final design.
  • 
  In the end, the developers decided to build on a 3,750-square-foot lot at 38 Harriet Street in San Francisco's SOMA district. The street is narrow and alley-like, so the developers knew they'd need to come up with an innovative design to maximize the use of the lot.
    In the end, the developers decided to build on a 3,750-square-foot lot at 38 Harriet Street in San Francisco's SOMA district. The street is narrow and alley-like, so the developers knew they'd need to come up with an innovative design to maximize the use of the lot.
  • 
  The site, sandwiched between two buildings in a transitional area within SOMA, has an eclectic mix of old and new buildings—and some fancy new neighbors, including the new Twitter headquarters. Stay tuned next week for a Q&A with the project's developer and builder.
    The site, sandwiched between two buildings in a transitional area within SOMA, has an eclectic mix of old and new buildings—and some fancy new neighbors, including the new Twitter headquarters. Stay tuned next week for a Q&A with the project's developer and builder.
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