Millennials want to live in parking spaces, school says

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Inspired to radically downsize once his daughters moved out of his 1,800-square-foot house, Louisiana resident Art Cormier said he doesn't miss the burden of maintaining a large space. "I have found the small house very peaceful and relaxing," he said. (Credit: CNN)

ATLANTA — Would you ever consider living in an 8-by-16-foot parking space? Apparently, much of the millennial generation would, says an educator.

Design students in Atlanta have unveiled the SCADpad, named for their school, the Savannah College of Art and Design.

It’s the latest development in a global movement that’s been growing for years: Small homes can lessen your carbon footprint, simplify your living situation and make you more mobile.

“SCADpad asks the question: how we might reinvent — how we might model — an immediate strategy for sustainable, adaptive reuse,” says Christian Sottile, dean of SCAD’s School of Building Arts. “The greenest building is the one that’s already built.”

Students created a small, experimental prototype community by retrofitting an Atlanta parking deck.

Each home’s brightly decorated interior measures 135 square feet and includes areas for sleeping and food prep, a bathroom, and an open space for lounging. “It’s not just a generational thing,” says Prof. Scott Boylston of SCAD Design for Sustainability. “People all over are looking at a different way of living — living in smaller spaces and with fewer things.”

Large cities have been embracing the concept of small-home living — some more cautiously than others.

In 2012, New York launched a pilot program to develop a new housing model for the city’s growing small-household population.

The program, adAPT NYC, sought to accommodate the need for smaller apartments for some of the roughly 1.8 million households in New York that consist of one or two people.

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development called for construction of self-contained “micro-units” between 275 and 300 square feet, including kitchen and bathroom.

Sometimes antiquated municipal laws and building codes can prevent small-space residents from living in their homes full-time, until local authorities scramble to catch up.

Elsewhere, small homes have gained a foothold in Australia as well. In the town of Lismore, The Container Build Group transforms durable metal shipping containers into comfy little houses for homebuyers.

In England, a shipping container neighborhood of low-cost homes has sprouted in the coastal city of Brighton.

Johannesburg has seen the transformation of an old grain silo into trendy residences, with a top floor made from shipping containers.

SCAD’s Sottile says the small home movement is largely driven by millennials who want to live in the center of a city.

“They don’t mind living in smaller spaces because they really see their home as just a part of their lifestyle,” Sottile says. “The city is where they live.”

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