Why not ‘ditch the big city loneliness’ and embrace community living?

Tiny apartment ‘microflats’ are available to rent from £178 per week for a single, or £235 for a double, plus fixed weekly bill payments that include all utilities, council tax, WiFi, gym, laundry and dining spaces (plus room cleaning, linen changes and a programme of community events) The Collective offers an alternative to traditional living and working.

The Collective’s development in Old Oak Lane, London offers flexible stays from four months or longer. Some rooms are available with a private ‘kitchette’ (kitchenette to the uninitiated), but the idea is being marketed as a means to bring young working people together and ‘ditch the big city loneliness’.

It’s a student halls of residence for those who can prove income of over £28,000, provide ID and pay a small deposit.

The Collective was founded by its CEO, Reza Merchant, in 2010 with the mission to address the lack of quality accommodation available to London’s younger population. The Old Oak development houses 546 people across ten floors and there are further sites at Acton, Kentish Town, Hyde Park, King’s Cross and Notting Hill. The Collective is now looking to expand across London.

The idea of microflats isn’t a new one, although previous attempts to popularise tiny homes have not caught on. In the early noughties, Selfridges hosted a microflat window display (with live resident), showcasing a space efficient interior based on a layout used on yachts. The designers, London architectural practice Piercy Conner, said it was the solution to the shortage of affordable housing. The 340 sq ft flat had a double bedroom plus lounge/diner/kitchen and ‘utility pod’ encasing a bath and storage. The space even included a tiny terrace with seating.

Going back even further, in 1972 the Nakagin Capsule Tower was built in Tokyo in just 30 days. The building contained microflats that were 60% of the size of an average Tokyo flat and built at half the cost.

42% of flats let in central London in the last year have been small studio and one bedroom units, according to London Central Portfolio (LCP). Clearly, tenants are favouring affordability and convenience over lifestyle and property size. Naomi Heaton, CEO of LCP, suggests the government should reconsider minimum space standards to cater for market demand.

And it’s an attractive proposition for investors, with more efficient use of space providing greater returns per square foot. The Collective’s microflats start at around 200 sq ft, up to around 350 sq ft for a studio apartment.