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Microliving becomes new trend in St. Petersburg

Microliving becomes new trend in St. Petersburg

Residents are not so happy about it, however.


Microliving is a new housing trend in St. Petersburg. In the Soviet era, there were so-called small-family apartments of no more than 14 square meters. Then, they were considered a better variant compared to living in ‘communal’ flats with several other families.

What makes developers turn to tiny apartments now, in the 21st century? One of the reasons is high prices for dwelling in metropolises. As a result, small flats in new buildings sell well.

But microliving is not about conventional one-room apartments or studious. These are actually tiny units of 10-12 square meters with a separate entrance, a kitchen and a bathroom.

And 10 meters is not the smallest microliving unit possible. The smallest micro-flat in Europe, just 5.5 square meters, is located in central London, and it was reportedly offered for almost 224 pounds. How much microliving apartments are going to cost in St. Petersburg?

Microliving suggest maximum compactness and maximum space efficiency. Such apartments are called transformers as most of the furniture is multifunctional – a bed transforming into a closet or into a table in the daytime, foldable kitchen tables and chairs, and removable walls. 

The new trend in housing construction first emerged in the US and became popular in Asia. Now it is to be found in European capitals as well.

In St. Petersburg, the first apartment block with microliving units is currently under construction. Apartments of 13 square meters and above will be divided into three parts, a bedroom with one window, which will have enough space only for a bed, a nightstand and a table, a bathroom with a toilet and a shower cubicle, and a small entrance space. There will be no space even for a kitchenette.

Such apartments are initially expected to be used as a temporary dwelling, to be rented by students or tourist for a couple of days. However, potential buyers tend to view them as affordable permanent places to live. Experts agree that there might be demand for such micro units in the Russian market.

Anton Glushkov, President of the National Developers’ Association, believes that all new trends including microliving have economic grounds. It is not true that Russian buyers prefer smaller flats, the truth is, they prefer bigger flats, but cannot afford them.

Developers do not find micro flats more profitable than standard size. Dividing a building into a large number of small apartments means more construction materials, more engineering networks, more doors, windows, etc., explains Alexey Belousov, Managing Director of the St. Petersburg Developers’ Association.

Marketers say, St. Petersburg residents are demanding customers, they know exactly how high the ceiling should be, where the windows should look, and how big the kitchen should be. And they will ask who the neighbours would be and whether there are many studios in the apartment block.

Arseny Sidorov, managing director of an engineering company, says many customers are not prepared to live in a house with studios, they have certain expectations about their would-be neighbours.

Irina Soloviova, sales director with a construction company, believes 12-15 square meter apartments might create social tensions between tenants. 

St. Petersburg residents, when asked, are not enthusiastic about micro apartments, irrespective of how cheap they might be. 

“Why should I need such a closet?”

“Too little space and too many people – no, that’s not for me.”

“We live in the 21st century. 13 square meters is beyond all reason”.

According to Anton Moroz, Vice President of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, in some regions building microliving housing facilities was forbidden. However, if there is a demand for such type of flats, there must be reasons for that, and people who buy such flats just cannot afford a larger dwelling. 

It will take long enough before the city will feel the full social impact of microliving projects. Experts believe that the best way to counter the trend is increasing the real income of residents, and not only in St. Petersburg. 

Photo: St. Petersburg TV channel