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Finland’s first mini-homes to come on market in 2017

Finland’s first apartment block of 60-odd mini-homes will appear on the landscape in Vantaa’s Martinlaakso district in 2017. At just 15.5 square metres, the units will be the smallest ever commercially built as regular homes, and should be available for rent by autumn next year. The housing investment company behind the project is already planning another studio block in eastern Helsinki.

Vain 15,5 neliön kodissa ulko-ovi avautuu suoraan keittiöön rappukäytävästä, ei ulkoa, kuten tässä esittelykontista otetussa kuvassa. Vastapäätä keittiötä on WC. Ruokapöydän voi vetää ulos parvelle johtavien rappujen alta.
Image: SATO Oyj / Tuomas Uusheimo

Building contractors will begin work on the proposed six-storey studio apartment complex by the end of this summer. Housing investment company SATO sought – and received – a special permit from Vantaa city officials to construct the 15.5 square metre units, since national regulations currently set the minimum size of a home at 20 square metres.

The building will accommodate 68 units, all of which will feature ceilings nearly four metres high, to accommodate a sleeping loft. With space at a premium, the miniscule flats have been planned to take advantage of every single inch.

The open plan kitchen sits below the loft space, while a tiny dining table folds neatly back under the stairway after use. Residents won’t have to waste time figuring out how to arrange furniture either – there is only one possible location for a sofa, but the space has been designed so that even a wheelchair will fit in the compact bathroom.

"This is a small building, there’s just about 1,000 square metres of living space. It is extremely well-suited to additional construction," noted project manager Miikka Karjaluoto.

Follow-up project planned for eastern Helsinki

SATO is also eyeing a similar project in Meri-Rastila, eastern Helsinki. The firm is currently negotiating with Helsinki city officials for a zoning permit to construct on a previously-built site where a three-storey apartment block stands. Karjaluoto said that the company is also interested in expanding the stock of studio homes in Espoo.

"Our goal is to replicate this model in other parts of the capital region," he explained.

The project manager said that he hopes that the current acute housing shortage will encourage metropolitan area decision makers and officials to make a bold move.

"Small homes don’t have to be kennels," he noted.

Although the company hasn’t begun marketing the units yet, it said it has already received enquiries from people interested in renting. Demand is high for rental homes in the capital region, partly because nearly half of Helsinki dwelling units (48.4 percent) are home to single individuals.

The proposed rent for the units – 500 euros per month – and the location alongside a main rail line are no doubt additional attractions.

A recent report by the city of Helsinki titled "Alone in the city" revealed that single dwellers would prefer more, not less space. On average, they wished for a two-room unit with floor space of between 40 and 59 square metres. The investment company is hoping that a community top-floor sauna with terrace and a ground floor recreational area will help entice some of them to opt for a smaller residence.

Vain 15,5 neliön asunto on valoisa lähes koko päätyseinän peittävän ikkunan takia. Ovi avautuu ranskalaiselle parvekkeelle.
Image: SATO Oyj / Tuomas Uusheimo
Sato Oy:n minikodin korkeus on 4 metriä, mutta parvella ei mahdu seisomaan suorana.
Image: SATO Oyj / Tuomas Uusheimo

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