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Forums > Social Discussion > A rant about Micro-apartments (beware)

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Now I watched one of my favourite TV-programmes this morning ("Discovery-Channel") and I come across this image (sorry can't provide one here at the moment) of Mini-cubicles.

A reporterette was showing this awful, eek Micro apartment and had a big fat smile on her face all the time, trying to seel this as THE most desirable solution to housing problems found ever! bluargh!!!!!!!

I saw the image of a few cubicles (carrying the "O2" image (a cellphone company) allover) - each measuring 2.65m x 2.65m (for all the fractionists, that is 104.33 inches!!!)

In this cubicle you find "everything": A bathroom, a toilet, a kitchen, a flatscreen TV (one bit of "freedom"), a microwave and stove, 2 garbagebins (to seperate and recycle the trash!!!), a main bed and the opportunity to convert the table and seats to a second bed (if you're having guests who sleep in that is - most certainly you'd be able to celebrate an orgy in there)... Ach and I forgot to mention: they are all airconditioned (not sure, whether one could open the window anyways)...

And to topple all this I had to learn that this project (everybody seems so satisfied with) was founded in Munich (my hometown)! You heard right, not Tokio, Munich/ Germany.

This is regarded as THE TOPLEVEL solution for the current housing problem we're facing in Munich - especially for students!

At first I was unsure, whether to throw up, or freak out and simply decided to meditate upon it. It became obvious - to me - that with growing population, space is getting rare and housing is expensive (the cubicle costs about 100 bucks, opposing 4-600 for a regular apartment in the area)

Now I would like to ask you:
Do you agree that we have by far not enough space and money to afford "aedequate" housing - which makes projects like this inevitable?
or
Do you agree, that this is one of the most outrageous cases of abuse of humans in need?

Would you feel comfy in such environment (in Germany we have bad weather conditions 3/4 of the year, which sometimes make it merely impossible to sit outside and read a book) and would you also consider this your "dreamhouse"?

I mean, put wheels under it, an engine and wooops! you have a motorhome (in which you are not permitted to live inside a (German) city and which is no legitimate address)....

To give you a brief, visual impression

click here....

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Mr Majestik
SILVER Member since Mar 2004

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Posted:ew. i wouldnt want to live in one, sleep in one perhaps, but not live in one.

however, i can see how this would be useful for european cities that have no places warm and dry for people to live in. while long term i dont think anyone would want to live in this, surely you'd conceed that its better than people dieing in the snow?

 Written by: FireTom

Do you agree, that this is one of the most outrageous cases of abuse of humans in need?



how do you figure that? its giving them somewhere warm and dry where they can do as they please at an affordable rate while they try to move on to better things. while i can see that over time problems might arise where families may be placed in these i would say that they're still better than spending winter in tents, as is happening to people in my city.


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FireTom


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Posted:Majestik: I figure that, because there is enough space to build proper homes and the more homes are built - the cheaper they get.

You may - for example - claim that New York is a densly populated area and there is no space, but if you take the car and drive North, West or South, you will be amazed how much oped lonely space there is.

Similar (not quite) is the situation in Munich.

We're not meant to live in a box!

Instead of liberating chicken from their cages, we start putting each other in - maybe that shuts up environmentalists after all wink


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Birgit
BRONZE Member since Jan 2005

Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 4145
Posted:I don't think I'd like it, but compared to some of the student dorms I've seen at least they're new and clean and you don't have to share with 11 smelly hippies or people who don't clean up after themselves wink

In Tbingen, one year one of the uni buildings was converted into a temporary dorm, with nowhere to put stuff away. The other year dozens of people paid to live in the hostel, and some camped, until some students stopped studying and they could move into a dorm or flat. I wouldn't think the cubes are ideal but compared to what's already going on they might be a better alternative.

Knowing that some students (including me most of the time) use their "home" mostly to sleep and spend most of the day at uni or out doing stuff, it's not quite as bad. You can study in there if you have to, and if you're one of the types that spends most weekends and holidays at home I can see the cube working.


"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
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alien_oddity


alien_oddity

Carpal \'Tunnel
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Total posts: 7193
Posted:eek how are you ment to throw house partys in one of those cubicles ubblol there barely enough room to swing a cat

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Skulduggery
GOLD Member since Aug 2004

Skulduggery

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Location: Wales

Total posts: 8428
Posted:I think I pesonally would find it too claustrophobic to live in, but I guess someone with no home living out on the streets all winter might think it a blessing.....

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Spanner
BRONZE Member since Feb 2003

Spanner

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Posted:http://www.microcompacthome.com/
br>
They apparently cost 50,000 which is inclusive of supply, installation all interior fittings and connection to services, but the guarantee lasts only 5 years. umm

It's for this reason that I doubt they'd become popular in the UK and thank goodness for that. If they were to become popular I would deem it as an abuse of humans in need. I find it disgusting that anyone would be expected to prepare food so close to a toilet or to sleep so close to dustbins while there always seems to be enough space for luxury housing to be built here.

I don't think that these should be on sale until those involved with the project have each lived in one for 5 years. I've seen first-hand how little empathy housing providers tend to have for those who are forced to live in conditions far more substandard than their own and this is just another example of that frown


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alien_oddity


alien_oddity

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Posted:wouldn't take much to hotbox one of those rooms ubblol

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FireTom


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Posted: Written by: Spanner

I don't think that these should be on sale until those involved with the project have each lived in one for 5 years. I've seen first-hand how little empathy housing providers tend to have for those who are forced to live in conditions far more substandard than their own and this is just another example of that



exactly!!!!

See in Munich, we have space, we have empty space too - it's not THAT much of a big deal to provide reasonable space at reasonable rates.

And in Germany we have bad weather most of the times (useful info for those who were wondering why Germans had such little sense of humor - stereotypically - we simply have not much to laugh about)... meaning you either have to be at the UNi most of the time, sit in a cafe, or bum your friends - IF you do not want to live in that cubicle.

I find it disgusting. Period. I also find the living conditions in Tokyo, Hong Kong and other metros disgusting, where entire families have to reside in a one-bedroom apartment.

It's greed, greed it is and not more or less.

As to the owner-issue: Funny enough though, in the meantime it's no more black and white. Many apartments have been sold to people who want to actually enjoy some pension and have to put their hardly owned bucks into something, to get a return at some point. It's not the rich eating the poor, but all a mishmash...

Wonder when the first student will lay an egg...

But sadly enough I have to agree with Birgit on the smelly part of your post rolleyes


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Birgit
BRONZE Member since Jan 2005

Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 4145
Posted: Written by: FireTom


And in Germany we have bad weather most of the times (useful info for those who were wondering why Germans had such little sense of humor - stereotypically - we simply have not much to laugh about)...



I disagree... it's warmer and nicer than Scotland for one thing wink And global warming will make it even "better"... we'll soon rival Italy. But of course Italy will get warmer, too wink
Without kidding now, I think Germany's got quite a nice climate. You can go swimming outside most of the summer, and in winter there's still snow every year, though not as much as in the "good old days".

And we have tons of things to laugh about! Our politicians, men with mustaches and in speedos, mullets, and until this summer our football team... tongue

Anyway, as long as noone's forced to live in one of them cubes I can't see the problem with them. The only worry I'd have if like you said old people use them for being able to enjoy their pensions, is that they might break their hip trying to climb to the bed level. eek


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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:But you remember that "summer" only lasts 3 month/ year (max!)

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

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Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:I don't see a problem,if in Germany it's being used as a solution to house those in need, then, as Majestik implied, it's better than living in a dumpster. Who do you expect to provide "adequate" housing to the needy ? Me? ( been there, done that, got screwed into bankruptcy because of it ) The developer? The government ? You ?. It's easy to be critical about 'greed" when it's someone else's money. If I were in desperate need of housing, I'd welcome one of these at 100 a month.

I'm unable to translate the German website, but the English one portrays these boxes as what they really are. Eco conscious living, with a minimal footprint ( more room in your yard to grow your own food ) , and minimal demand on resources for heating.

I wonder when Al Gore is going to move into one of these?


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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:May I ask you Stout, what the size of your home is?

My point - to repeat it, is that we have lots of empty space in Munich. Old military barracks for say, that only need a little fixing and makeup. The city is leaving them empty, due to reasons that lack reasonable explanation.

Another point is, that real estate prices are kept high, arteficially. There is enough space AND another runnign gag in Munich (dunno about yuor town) are the signs "commercial space available". Currently we are facing 2 million square metres of vacant commercial space... At the same time there is more commercial space developed. Think about it! 2 MILLION SQUARE METRES!

The developers can afford to have the space vacant, because they can substract their losses from tax. Meaning it's the average taxpayer financing this. Meaning the citizens are (back)financing their own (high) lease!!!!!

You get my point now?


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Something very similar is quite popular in Japan. Quite frankly they aren't hugely different from student halls of residence, except that the shared resources in halls are included in it.

Certainly not a wonderful place to place, but better than no home at all, or concreting over wild-life.


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

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Location: Canada

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Posted:The size of my home? It's a basement suite actually, meaning I live in an 8 person household. I dunno, if I had to guess I'd put it between 800-1000 square feet, which is shared with my wife, baby, and two cats. I also run a home based business out of it too. But I sure pay more than a 100 a month for it, and we're not subsidized, by anyone.

There may be lots of empty space ( yes, I've been to Munich a couple of times ) but who's space is it? And why would you expect a commercial space owner to apply for rezoning and suddenly go into the affordable housing business? Would you quit what you're doing and go into that business. ?

Even if they did, and set up hundreds of these less expensive units, they'd obviously still face criticisim for their efforts not being good enough,


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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:And where do YOU live, Jeff?

It's always easy to say: "But this is better than nothing" - if you are not the one who has to live in it yourself, isn't it? What would you do, if YOU were forced to live in this place? Certainly trying to win the money game in order to get out of there, I suppose.

Assumed there is no real alternative, because you lived in HongKong or Tokyo and it's the only place you find work - what would you do?

These people certainly are thinking that they do something beneficial for mankind, whilst they would not even nightmare about spending 6 month under such conditions themselves.

Have you ever talked to a Japanese, how "popular" this type of accomodation really is to him? umm

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Mabey you should try telling people who can't afford normal flats why they shouldn't live in these.

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Birgit
BRONZE Member since Jan 2005

Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 4145
Posted:I do get your point about it being unreasonable to not re-develop existing space. However, the difference may be as simple as people being willing to buy a cube, maybe even for novelty value for a while, whereas old barracks would very likely be rented out and therefore, with the market for property in Germany being as nearly dead as it unfortunately is (my dad builds houses, so believe me, I know), the cubes may be the better option for investors.

The annoying thing is that as long as there's demand prices will stay up. With Munich just winning 2 of the 3 excellence prices for German unis, this is going to get worse, not better. In Tbingen, it was similarly bad with 25000 students out of a population of 85000. Of course everyone would rent out their flats for a high price. And if you were a young couple starting a family you'd be in direct competition with hordes of students looking for a flat to share, and often having parents willing to pay more between them than a young family could afford.

At least we didn't have to share rooms in the dorms like they do in some places, THAT would be worse for me than a tiny cube!

I've just re-calculated, if one side of the cube measures 2.65 metres, that's 7 m for one floor, and about 10-12 with the 2nd level for the bed etc. Which is just as much as many of my friends in student halls had during uni! There were rooms, with no 2nd floor possibilities, with as little as 9 m. And the bed wasn't even fold-away. So it's really not much worse than what's already in place. Also the cube offers quite a lot of independence compared to a shared flat, or a dorm.


"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
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FireTom


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Posted: Written by: stout

There may be lots of empty space ( yes, I've been to Munich a couple of times ) but who's space is it?



Excuse me for not having myself and the situation explained to the fullest extent: The city of Munich owns this place. Currently 90% of it is vacant, because they are intending to (one day - the plan exists for 5 years already) build a residental area there. But they have no money, nobody who would be ready to finance it. At the same time - the aequivalent areal size - on the other side of the street commercial buildings are constructed (whist we have 2.000.000 sqm of vacant commercial space in the city already)...

Another reason for the vacancy is sewage and legislation:

a) suddenly they found out that sewage is improper and recently only improved a few buildings (those of the present artists colony) - the rest stays vacant, at least for another 12 - 24 months.

b) if issuing a residental contract, the tenants might be legible for protection, meaning you can't simply kick them out whenever you want to start construction.

There are enough excuses not to make them available to students and cram those into cubicles.

By the way did you notice, how the govt is subsidising the market for commercial space? It's not as if the rates for commercial (office) space is facing a dramatic drop - because of this.

But I guess working space is more important than living space - because that's where humans should feel at home biggrin


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FireTom


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Posted:But Birgit, you can't count the "upper floor" in - it's only a bed 100x180... The military barracks have a clearance of 3,13m

And at the same time "investors" are financing apartments in Shanghai like in a fishfeeding frenzy... it's not as there was "no money"...

Jeez what has to happen to make us wake up?


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

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Posted:Ah, so it's city land. I can understand how taxpayers might want to impose limits onto just how far they want their government to get into the subsidized housing business. My guess is that they're hoping to sell it to a developer, who, along with getting a good deal, might be expected to construct x number of affordable housing units. That's how it usually works around here.

How old are the buildings, they might not be up to anything resembling current codes, and may be more of a liability than an asset.

Locally, we can kick our tenants out if we need the property for something else.

So is Munich actually planning on building these as affordable housing? And forcing people to move in to them? The reason I'm asking is that given the amount of people who live in RV's and boats around here, I'm curious as to how "forcing" people to live in a space roughly the same size as spaces people are willing to live in is such a bad thing.

I wouldn't want to try to raise a child in one of those cubes though.


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Birgit
BRONZE Member since Jan 2005

Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 4145
Posted:well, the 2 metres bed space that a bed takes in a "normal" dorm are dead space. So substract the 2 from the 9 total, you get 7, which is like the ground floor of the cube. Is all I'm saying.

I'm not saying that there's no money, but ask my dad about how many of his contractors went bankrupt, and how few people buy houses.

Look, I don't think it's a case of waking up. We have hundreds of reasons to wake up in Germany, including parts of the health system, a LOT of the school system, integration of foreigners (from both sides), the tax system, the universities, smoking in public places etc. If people don't want to live in a cube, then they won't buy or rent one! It's not like Munich City is planning to put families of 5 in that don't get a space in the social flats, is it? I can't see it hurting anyone.

And investors think of themselves first. They don't invest to be nice to the economy of Germany, or China, or anywhere in between, but to increase their own profits. Which they can't do well with student flats in Munich... I'm not defending them, but from their point of view, why should they care about some students?

Germany's traditionally short-sighted. In other countries, university alumni invest vast sums of money in the unis and their students. We don't. We don't have a proper stipend system, and are currently topping it up with university fees to make it even harder for those whose parents can't support them to study. We're 20 % behind on the percentage of students, though I agree with some people in the UK that say it's unnecessary to go to Uni for some of the degrees, but our apprentice system is suffering, too. I honestly think the cubes are the smallest worries students have smile


"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
(G.W. Dahlquist)

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newgabe
SILVER Member since Mar 2005

newgabe

what goes around comes around. unless you're into stalls.
Location: Bali

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Posted:The tent I use at festivals is 3 metres x 3 metres. It's great for a few weeks in the summer. When I only have a few changes of clothing and can cook outside.



These cubicles could be OK for very temporary housing. I had a good look at the webite and they do not suggest someone living like that full time.



I think affordable housing is an excellent use of taxpayers funds. In the early 80's I was homeless, and sick, in London with a 3 year old child. Bless council housing, without which I may be dead. We have a small tradition of it in Oz I wish we had a lot more of it.


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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Posted:Ummmm, I must admit I am still unclear as to what has been proposed with regards to the use of this housing. Is it to be used as council housing for people who need assistance through subsidised rent? Or is it available for anyone to buy and live in as a cheap alternative to other rental properties, so that the council can make some money?



I don't think anyone should be forced to live in such circumstances. However I could see why someone may choose to live in one for a short period of time.



Before you ask, I am lucky and have a decent amount of space at my disposal. I share a three bedroom house with two other people, and it is a very comfortable arrangement. But if I was travelling, or between houses and with few possessions, I could see myself renting one of those for a month just for convenience. It would certainly be cheaper than a hotel room, and at times I can be quite a solitary beasty, so it may be preferable to a hostel dorm room. But it would be my choice.



We have a lot of transients in Sydney. People with no fixed abode, who spend the colder months and nights looking for accommodation in the various charity run homeless shelters, then in the summer they sleep on the streets. Maybe if given the choice they would consider this as a possible alternative? But I would hate to see it as a forced thing, that the only accommodation available to them was in this form.



I would also hate to see it used for long term housing. Even if the original purpose was to use it only in the short term, there is always a risk that people, once living there, could not afford to move on to something bigger. If the aim was to use it for short term half-way housing for homeless people or students, it would have to be supported by programs to help people find jobs and find cheap accommodation somewhere else.


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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

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Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: FireTom



You may - for example - claim that New York is a densly populated area and there is no space, but if you take the car and drive North, West or South, you will be amazed how much oped lonely space there is.









Right. And we like it like that because the land is not lonely, it is good for the environment (much of it upstate is parks or protected), good for industry (lots of farming going on in these parts, which provides food for said city) and truthfully good for the mental well being of the many of us who can't exsist in close quarters in cities.



Developing land is not an answer either. I've seen what it does here and it sucks rocks. Flooding has been caused, higher levels of pollution and less rural based industry is able to thrive.

There are craploads of homes, buildings, warehouses, etc. that could be refurbished into low income apartments almost everywhere I go. So the idea of these is simply idiotic to me. In our area many of them are already zoned for residential, it simply requires some effort to clean them up. Part of the issue is many people don't want to put in the elbow grease unless it has a Habitat for Humanity tag on it, or some such.



I don't view it as abuse, since it is a choice. And I agree, it's better than the streets or a shelter. I think the issue that will be run into is that these only fit a single demographic. Many of the people looking for lower priced homes are families in many areas. The need doesn't fit the solution. So in the end will be more wasted space that could have been put to better use.



Unless that is part of the idea with the desire for population control? Make family homes overly priced and single homes more accessible.



I have lived in a space that small for a summer at Ren., a space smaller than that when I was "homeless" with my son and one twice that size with PWB before we had our last apartment.

It sucks but it really is better than nothing.



In the end it makes me think of Corbin Dallas' apartment in the 5th Element (yes, I know, my geek is showing! wink )



*edit*

Forgot to say that I'm impressed with what it comes with. For any place bigger you have to supply all the furnishings, sometimes even the stove and fridge, and that with a much higher price tag on it.



And have you seen the Japanese Microtels? "Why hello sir. Yes we have your coffin..er...motel room waiting. Just slide in and enjoy." Ugh. No thanks.




EDITED_BY: Pele (1161485806)


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:I agree that radical development of rural land is not the answer - we have to preserve nature to the greatest extent possible.

In Germany - to rule out the argument of birth control - we have a stagnating and overaging population. I am almost certain that living under these conditions will not stimulate the people to start a family, but vice versa.

It was 6 years ago last time that I've been to Sydney - but I reckon that the average temperature in winter there equals the max, what we experience in spring or fall. Winter temperatures can go as low as -20 and counting. Spring and fall usually have significant rainfall, too. So there is not much outdoor activity. I have to visit the sauna and steambath at least once a ween in order to survive.

It's not as if anyone would be "forced" to live in such a cubicle... but Munich (for example) has one of - if not THE highest levels of rent/ sqare metres in Germany, going up to 25 Euros/ sqm.

The barracks I was talking about are okay - or have been okay at least (I was living in the artist colony for 2 years myself) - a little bit of fixing here and there and wow, you'd have a 36sqm room, with wooden floors, big windowns and 3,13m clearance.

As long as the gov't is subsidising commercial space to that extent, met with the fact that building commercial space is a) cheaper to build and b) gives you some 30 (+) Euros in return, there is not much going to change.

I see us going down the Tokyo road = labora et labora (work and work) - room for living? A 2 cubicmetre cuffin is sufficient, no?

Not to speak about the fact that you'll be unable to spin much poi in your livingroom...


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Mr Majestik
SILVER Member since Mar 2004

Mr Majestik

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Posted: Written by: pele

In the end it makes me think of Corbin Dallas' apartment in the 5th Element (yes, I know, my geek is showing! )



this is actually what i thought when i read the original post. his apartment didnt seem all that bad. kind of


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Twiggy


Twiggy

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Total posts: 162
Posted:Id like to have one in the garden as a 'modern shed'

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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted: Written by: FireTom


It was 6 years ago last time that I've been to Sydney - but I reckon that the average temperature in winter there equals the max, what we experience in spring or fall. Winter temperatures can go as low as -20 and counting. Spring and fall usually have significant rainfall, too. So there is not much outdoor activity. I have to visit the sauna and steambath at least once a ween in order to survive.

It's not as if anyone would be "forced" to live in such a cubicle... but Munich (for example) has one of - if not THE highest levels of rent/ sqare metres in Germany, going up to 25 Euros/ sqm.

As long as the gov't is subsidising commercial space to that extent, met with the fact that building commercial space is a) cheaper to build and b) gives you some 30 (+) Euros in return, there is not much going to change.

I see us going down the Tokyo road = labora et labora (work and work) - room for living? A 2 cubicmetre cuffin is sufficient, no?

Not to speak about the fact that you'll be unable to spin much poi in your livingroom...



I'm sorry, this is actually confusing me even more about what the purpose of this accommodation bit is. So in interpreting what you are saying, do you mean that the council is making this housing available to anyone who wants it, but the problem is that the prohibitively high rents in places like Munich mean that people have little option other than to take this form of accommodation? And that due to the high rents it is unlikely they will ever move out?

So are you saying that this housing is not intended for the homeless specfically, and reserved for people on housing commission waiting lists? (this in itself is a problem as it has the potential to push out the most needy from the system).

And are you saying that the council expects people to live in this accommodation long term? And that they have explicit expectations with regards to what people should do when they are out of the house, eg. work?

Could you please confirm exactly what the council policy intent is around this housing? It helps me to have a good understanding of what is being discussed so I can explore exactly what the problem is.

At the risk of introducing a side issue, I do understand you point about Germany being a lot colder than Sydney. It almost goes without saying. However people have been known to freeze to death even here. It may not be as extreme an issue, and it may not effect us for as many months of the year, but it is still a concern for our society.


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:Rozi, how can I inform exactly what the councils policy about this is? I'm no member of it... smile



If you follow the link Spanner provided on the first page, you get detailled information of the developer, along with FAQ's.



There is a project running at the Technical University (TU) in Munich with 6 units. So far it has not been expanded. The purpose of the design is intended for "student and social housing", but - so far - the plan has not been seriously adapted by the council.



Excuse me, I'm dead tired at the moment and can't straighten my thoughts as to comply with your query...

EDITED_BY: FireTom (1161520549)


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Good point there Newgabe, the manufacturers aren't suggesting these be used as full time accommodation, and really they're not practical to use in a social housing situation. Really a bunch of trailers woulf be more economical if you really need to set up social housing using "modular units"



I still think they're perfect for eco concious hippies though, however I don't expect they're all that eager to move into one of these either as there's still a huge gap between simply talking about sustainability and actually living a sustainable lifestyle.





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