- SFGATE - Mike Moffitt
Millennials don't need living rooms, says top architect
But they do need to live and work in urban centers, insists Patrik Schumacher
Add a 56-year-old London architect to the long list of experts who know what's best for Millennials.
Patrik Schumacher of prestigious Zaha Hadid Architects, which designed the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics, has determined that 18- to 34-year-olds do not need living rooms in their apartments.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Schumacher said a hotel-sized room is enough for young professionals "out and about networking 24/7."
Schumacher wants to see "outdated" London regulations requiring 409 square feet of floorspace in new units revised downward. He argues they clash with the priorities of Millennials, many of whom, he says, would welcome smaller apartments.
Hotel-sized studios in central London would cost less to rent or buy, reduce commuting costs and enable more Millennials to enter the housing market. The Daily Telegraph quoted Schumacher as saying London Millennials now pay up to 80 percent of their income on housing in the central portion of the city.
California's space requirements are significantly less restrictive than London's. Even a 160-square-foot unit in San Francisco qualifies as legal. Turning a living room into a bedroom in order to house an extra roommate is nothing out of the ordinary.
But on social media, Schumacher's recommendations were mostly met with scorn by Millennial Brits.
Twitter user @CatoHeresy wrote, "How depressing. Just put us all into a pod at work with an IV drip overnight, that way we wont waste any more time or space for our elitist classes. I bet this architect would not dream of putting his son/daughter into a shoebox flat. ..."
Raiko Aasa tweeted, "Essentially a kennel."
Hannah Shaw-Williams saw a trend developing:
2018: "Millennials don't need living rooms." 2019: "Millennials don't need kitchens." 2020: "Millennials don't need bathrooms." 2021: "Come on, Millennials, do you really need a whole room just for your bed?" 2023: "Generations Z don't need coffin linings."
But Schumacher has his defenders as well.
Sophie Jarvis, a policy adviser at the Adam Smith Institute, said that relaxing sizing rules would ease the housing shortage forcing young people farther and farther out of the capital, according to The Week.
Schumacher, something of a lightning rod in urban planning circles, sees high property prices as a threat to cities' ability to attract the best and brightest.
"People are moving out of LA, out of the Bay Area. They have to create other tech clusters because of land prices," he told the Guardian. "Now that's a tough choice for a young startup — to swallow these huge prices or to pull away. But pulling away means being less connected, being less productive potentially.
"My staff here in the firm – young professionals — they know they have to be close. They can't afford to live miles away. They need to be in the pub afterwards debating issues. They need to slip over to the exhibition opening or that university lecture close by. ... They have to be in the center."