Many urban areas are re-imaging space to fit housing solutions that meet the needs of their residents and that also can fit in the limited space. This innovative prefab solution may help Boston.

A Boston startup is proposing a new housing model designed to solve a fundamental problem with urban apartments — they're too big.

The company, Livelight, and architect Tamara Roy developed a model for very small modular apartments that can be racked in steel-framed exoskeletons on small infill lots, expanding housing opportunities for one- and two-person urban households. The project also had the backing of the Boston Society of Architects.

Livelight founder Addison Godine said he was approached by the Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab and asked to design a micro-apartment on wheels. He and Roy, then the incoming president of the Boston Society of Architects, rolled up their sleeves and developed a prototype called the Urban Housing Unit, or uhü, and submitted the design in a competition for development of a city-owned lot in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood.

"Among many initiatives one of their interests was compact living spaces as a potential partial solution to the housing crunch that was happening in Boston," Godine said of the Innovation Lab in a telephone interview. "There is a great mismatch between the housing stock and the citizenry — 17% of the housing stock in Boston is studio and one-bedrooms but 67% of Boston city residents are one- and two-person households.”

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