A. New York City has a housing problem. Currently, it has 1.8 million one- and two-person households, and only one million studios and one-bedroom apartments. Theobvious solution seems to be to develop more small residential units.B. In January, Bloomberg's office announced the winner of its 2012 competition todesign and build a residential tower of micro-units--apartments between 250 and370 square feet--on a city-owned site at East 27th street in Manhattan. Accordingto the Mayor's press release, the winning proposal, by the Brooklyn-based firmnARCHITECTS, was chosen for its innovative layout and building design, withnearly 10 foot ceilings and Juliet balconies that give residents "substantial light andair".C. But as New York City's "micro-apartment" project inches closer to reality, expertswarn that micro-living may not be the urban panacea ( 灵丹妙药) we've beenwaiting for. For some residents, the potential health risks and crowding challengesmight outweigh the benefits of affordable housing. And while the Bloombergadministration hails the tiny spaces as a "milestone for new housing models", criticsquestion whether relaxing zoning rules and experimenting with micro-design onpublic land will effectively address New York's apartment supply problem in the longrHn.D."Sure, these micro-apartments may be fantastic for young professionals in their 20's,"says Dak Kopec, director of design for human health at Boston Architectural Collegeand author of Environmental Psychology for Design. "But they definitely can beunhealthy for older people, say in their 30's and 40's, who face different stress factorsthat can make tight living conditions a problem."E. Home is supposed to be a safe haven, and a resident with a demanding job may feeltrapped in a claustrophobic ( 导致幽闭恐怖症的 ) apartment at night--forcedto choose between the physical crowding of furniture and belongings in his unit,and social crowding, caused by other residents, in the building's common spaces.Research, Kopec says, has shown that crowding-related stress can increase rates ofdomestic violence and substance abuse.F. For all of us, daily life is a sequence of events, he explains. But most people don'tlike adding extra steps to everyday tasks. Because micro-apartments are too small tohold basic furniture like a bed, table, and couch at the same time, residents must resettheir quarters throughout the day: folding down a Murphy bed ( 墨菲隐壁床) , orhanging up a dining table on the wall. What might seem novel at the beginning endsup including a lot of little inconveniences, just to go to sleep or make breakfast beforework. In this case, residents might eventually stop folding up their furniture every dayand the space will start feeling even more constrained.G. Susan Saegert, professor of environmental psychology at the CUNY Graduate Centerand director of the Housing Environments Research Group, agrees that the micro-apartments will likely be a welcome choice for young New Yorkers who wouldprobably otherwise share cramped space with friends. But she warns that tiny livingconditions can be terrible for other residents--particularly if a couple or a parentand child squeeze into 300 square feet for the long term, no matter how well a unit isdesigned.H. "I've studied children in crowded apartments and low-income housing a lot,"Saegert said, "and they can end up becoming withdrawn, and have trouble studyingand concentrating." In these situations, modern facilities--such as floor to ceilingwindows, extra storage and a public roof deck--won't compensate for a fundamentallack of privacy in a child's home every day.I. She also doubts whether it's a valid public goal to develop smaller units on city land."In New York, property is just gold," she points out. "Isn't this something a developercould do in a Brooklyn neighborhood like DUMBO and make a lot of money?" Bythe same token, if micro-apartments are indeed the wave of the future, Saegert argues,they increase the "ground rent," or dollar per square foot that a developer earns. Soover time, New Yorkers may actually face more expensive housing, paying the sameamount to rent a studio in the neighborhood where they used to be able to afford aone-bedroom.J. Beyond the economic impact of smaller spaces, our homes also serve an importantrole in communicating our values and goals, or what scientists call "identity claims."We tend to feel happier and healthier when we can bring others to our space totelegraph who we are and what's important to us.K. "When we think about micro-living, we have a tendency to focus on functional things,like is there enough room for the fridge," explained University of Texas psychologyprofessor Samuel Gosling, who studies the connection between people and theirpossessions. "But an apartment has to fill other psychological needs as well, such asself-expression and relaxation, which might not be as easily met in a highly confinedspace."L. On the other hand, Eugenic L. Birch, professor of urban research and education andchair of the Graduate Group in City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, saysthis certainly isn't the first time we've had this debate over micro-living. New Yorkhas grappled with the public health costs of crowded living conditions and minimumapartment standards throughout its history.M. "Over time, New York City developers conceived of many ways to address theneed for affordable housing," said Birch. "They built slums in the 19th century thatreformers fought against. Other solutions have been boarding houses, shelters, andwhat came to be known as single room occupancy units."N. Rolf Pendall, director of the Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing and CommunitiesPolicy Center asks: Where would all these people be doing business and livingwithout the density? Would they be commuting longer distances or earning less,and is living farther from economic opportunities "better" for them? In that context,Pendall says he welcomes micro-apartments as long as they fit within the largerhousing ecology of the city, and don't ultimately displace other types of units forfamilies.O. The problem is, there's often an unconformity between housing standards and actualhousing conditions. Countless New Yorkers illegally share apartments, and currentzoning rules can create poor living environments--dilapidated (荒废的，要坍塌的) kitchens or dark rooms with a window that opens onto a brick wall. A worst casescenario would yield hundreds of thousands of micro-apartments and poor conditions.P. For this project, while New York may be taking a step backwards in terms of squarefootage, Eric Bunge, working at nARCHITECTS, the finn that created the winningmicro-apartment design, is firm that the city is taking a big step forward in terms ofactual living conditions. "The city sees this initiative as one mechanism in a set ofcomplex issues," Bunge says. "Nobody is claiming that micro-apartments will be asilver bullet."Q. By his calculus, the East 27th street building does address concerns of mental andphysical well-being. For example, residents might be losing physical space, butthey're gaining access to a series of amenities, like a gym with floor-to-ceiling parkviews, a lobby with a public garden, and yes, a Juliet balcony. And for that, many citydwellers might happily trade away 75 square feet and a freestanding bed.