Experience Compact Living Firsthand at BSA Space

A new exhibit called 'One Room Mansion' offers a solution to Boston's housing crisis.

one room mansion

Apartment 37, Shanghai. Architect: Atelier Mearc. Photo by LuHaHa / Courtesy of BSA Space

Instead of a city growing in luxury condo towers, picture a new type of development springing up—one that’s marketing awfully small living spaces. They offer kitchens that are mere steps from sleeping areas, instead emphasizing generous communal amenities over individual square footage. This is the idea of compact living.

Some people think the compact living model is a solution for Boston’s housing crisis, and will work to meet the demands for housing located near transit, workplaces, and restaurants. As society shifts away from car-oriented lives in the suburbs to more urban, eco-friendly lifestyles, compact living could very well be the future.

To show Bostonians what compact living would be like firsthand, BSA Space is set to debut “One Room Mansion” on November 10. The exhibit will take over the space’s upstairs galleries, turning them into a simulated co-living building. Several compact apartments connected by corridors will be open for exploring. Viewers can interact with the tiny living areas by checking out the innovative storage solutions, laundry areas, and work spaces. Indoor and simulated “outdoor” common areas will also be on view.

“One Room Mansion” is meant to show compact living as a viable housing option for people of all ages and incomes. By minimizing the size of private living areas with space-saving innovations, the singular rooms are seemingly transformed into mansions. The exhibit will also explore the lack of supply for small households today, highlighting demographic, economic, and design research in relation to rental costs in Boston’s neighborhoods.

Curated by Aeron Hodges AIA and A. Quinton Kerns, “One Room Mansion” has built upon a year’s worth of initiatives spurred by the Boston Society of Architects/AIA and the BSA Foundation to create solutions for Boston’s housing problems.

“Equitably housing our citizens is one of the most profound challenges and opportunities of our time,” said Mike Davis FAIA, chair of the BSA Foundation, in a statement. “By presenting this exhibition, we introduce new ideas into the discussion and invite the public to join the conversation.”

“One Room Mansion” is free and open to the public. It will be on view from November 10, 2016 through February 6, 2017 at BSA Space, 290 Congress St., Boston. For more information, visit architects.org.