We've seen it in science-fiction books and movies before — the urban dystopia where living space has shrunk to almost nothing to house a teeming humanity. Now it seems to be here... or at least scheduled for 2011.
The loft — already a compact, efficient living arrangement that eschews most luxury — is being replaced in some places, including one city in windy, wide-open Canada, by the even more austere micro-loft. Soon you can live like Larry Niven's Louis Grindley Wu (in Ringworld Engineers), who could see both doors to his apartment from his chair.
That's the news in a new post at Core77, which says that Vancouver — a progressive, green city that also has some of the highest rents in the world even before Olympic madness — could lead the way.
And of course, as Thomas Malthus warned us two centuries ago, it could take off from there: "In a problem spreading across the globe," the post says," the population is outstripping the available space."
It's another step in a trend — mass produced faux-Tuscan mini-mansions be damned — toward more compact living: The micro-lofts should be ready to roll next year.
Although the comedian Ricky Gervais is now fabulously wealthy, in one of his sets he recalls how, as a poor unknown, he and his girlfriend shared a London flat so small that he could open the refrigerator whilst still in bed. In Tokyo I saw similarly tiny apartments, where you would open the front door and hit the bed; and New York's East Village spawns, among other trends, some of the tiniest rabbit-hutch apartments you'll ever see.
(Here's another report on CTV News.)
A developer has just unveiled 270-square foot apartments with Murphy beds, folding kitchen and built-in shelving and flatscreen TVs. (One bit of advice: Windows.)
Besides Ringworld Engineers, what other scifi books or films does this remind us of?