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Earlier this summer, developer Panoramic Interests built a 22-unit apartment building in just four days in Berkeley, Calif. Now, the company wants to apply the prefab model to other sites in the area as an affordable way to house the city's homeless population, says Fast Company's Adele Peters.

A version of the design called the MicroPad–with even smaller studio apartments, at 160 square feet versus the 300-square-foot student apartments–is “the most efficient way to provide housing for the homeless,” says Patrick Kennedy, the owner of Panoramic Interests.

The MicroPad, like the student apartments, is designed to come fully furnished (in the case of the student apartments, even the coffeemaker was installed in the factory, and a built-in sofa converts to a bed at night). Nine-foot ceilings, large windows, and a layout inspired by capsule hotels make the space feel bigger than it actually is. Unlike a room at a homeless shelter, someone living inside would have full privacy, soundproofing, a private kitchenette, and bathroom. The steel body of the apartment is designed to provide protection from fire, flooding, and pests. The units are meant to be part of supportive housing complexes for homeless people, meaning that social services would also be available on-site.

The apartments can be stacked as many as eight stories high, with the space on single parking lot providing homes for hundreds of people. In San Francisco, where more than 7,000 people are homeless, one building wouldn’t house everyone, but a network of the buildings potentially could.

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