When the world is cold and offering you nothing but price-gouged crawl spaces on Craigslist, moving into one of those demonstration micro-homes at Ikea may seem like an attractive option. Or you could try this: A final project from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design’s Tanya Shukstelinsky, who built a slim "Cocoon" out of fabric that translates into a living space.
The cocoon itself is made up of two hanging sheets of fabric, complete with a sleeping space, steps, a table, and a fillable bathtub. Inhabitants can navigate their nearly two dimensional world by clinging to the stitches laced inside.
"This concept of a vertical and narrow dwelling can be used in dense urban spaces with expensive real estate. I think, it is definitely possible to live in such construction," Shukstelinsky wrote in an email. "It is light, flexible, portable, doesn’t need much space. I think it can be real space for temporary staying."
Cocoon is still in its conceptual stage, but micro-homes are very much a real development. By 2015, New York City will have constructed its first prefabricated microapartment building, and "hostel style" 200-square-foot living spaces are cropping up in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston. Some think that micro-living ought to stick to theory and not practice: Co.Exist’s Stan Alcorn, for example, argues that micro-housing isn’t a new development, but an old one preceded by the failed single-room occupancies (SRO’s) outlawed in the '50s for being uninhabitable.
SRO’s weren’t the first types of apartments built for density over ease of living. Tenement-style housing built to condense living spaces for the new immigrant populations flooding New York City in the late 19th century created a hotbed for disease. (Eventually, city planners figured out that narrow air shafts carved out to create some small kind of ventilation for residents were being used for waste disposal and spreading viruses.)
Still, SRO’s and tenements are a far cry from the minimalist, modernist fantasies of people who have the ability to choose micro-living today—though I can’t help but think of a dystopian future in which maybe, just maybe, we all live in soft, flexible filing cabinets of these things.