With space for flats and housing in increasingly short supply, especially in larger towns and cities, it’s no surprise that office space has become the latest things that developers have their eye on for small-living apartments. But while, to some, the studio flats that can be transformed from office spaces is an excellent idea, for others, it represents the rise of the ‘human warehouse’, with people having less space to live than they do to work.
The space issue - While, over the years, offices have been combatting the issue of increasingly tight space issues with open plan workplaces and hotdesking
, the same problem has applied to the homes of people living in these locations. In London, in particular, space is at more of a premium than ever, leading to plans for a North London office block to be transformed into 219 miniature accommodations. For a one-bedroom, one-person home, plans include spaces of just 16m2, well below the standard for 37m2. While space is increasingly expensive in London, for individuals and businesses alike, many have suggested this solution simply isn’t suitable for a living environment.
One protestor has even labelled the proposed properties as a ‘human warehouse’, thanks to the tiny amount of space and privacy each resident will have as a result of so many homes crammed into such a small space. While the average business would consider less than 16 meters acceptable for the workplace, the same can’t be said for eating, sleeping and entertaining within that same, small slive of space.
So is a ‘human warehouse’ necessarily a bad thing? - Ben Adams Architects came under fire over the plans to repurpose Alexandra House but, tiny living has been on the rise for a while. Starting with Japanese pod hotels and extending to low-cost shared hostels and even compact small homes, small-scale life certainly isn’t for everyone. But with the state of London renting, particularly for those only living in the city during the week, these tiny apartments could be on-point for the current amount of space renters have access to anyway. To work, or even as hotel-like accommodation, the Alexandra House conversion could be an acceptable solution.
There has been a rise in older office buildings being repurposed for living space; similarly to how industrial areas such as warehouses have become more standard for office purposes in the industry. This new property may be an extension of that concept, but for some, it represents the serious shortage of housing and lack of living conditions that are placed upon people today.
Even though the Alexandra House plans were rejected and thrown out by north London planners during December 2019 we beleive there will be a large increase in office space being repuropsed during 2020 and beyond.