UBC micro-apartments planned to address student housing crunch

They won't be bigger than the average parking stall, but UBC hopes micro-apartments will help solve its student-housing problem on campus.

School plans to build 145 sq. ft. self-contained units to rent for less than $700 per month

Andrew Parr, UBC's managing director of student housing, says micro-apartments are designed to be affordable for students. (CBC)

They won't be bigger than the average parking stall, but UBC hopes micro-apartments will help solve its student-housing problem on campus.

The units would be 145 sq. ft. but feature a bathroom, kitchen, study and sleeping space.

A rendering of what UBC's new Gage South Student Residence could look like. (UBC)

"You know for comparison, they would be similar to someone's bedroom at home you know plus or minus but around that size," said Andrew Parr, UBC's managing director of student housing and hospitality services.

The school hopes to build 43 micro-units — as part of a pilot project — in a new residence on campus called Gage South Student Residence that will have 630 beds and cost $70 million to build.

It would be located on top of a diesel bus loop near where the school's new aquatic centre is currently being constructed.

A current standard dorm room at UBC is approximately 120 sq. ft. (Chad Pawson/CBC)

Gage South — one of five buildings planned as part of an expansion of up to 3,000 beds for students by 2020 — won't be completed until 2019, but a demonstration unit will be built this fall for students to explore, Parr said.

"For students to actually walk through and kind of touch and feel and play with," he said. "Is this somewhere where you would want to live and, you know, is this somewhere you want to live for $650 to $670 dollars a month?"

Parr says the motivation for the project is affordability.

"Affordability is a very significant issue for many students," he said. "By nature of its size, it's less expensive to build and the rents that we'll charge will be about $300 to $400 less expensive than other units that are a bit bigger but independent living on campus right now."

Parr says the average rent on campus is $1000 per month, and there is a waiting list of more than 6,000 people.\

UBC graduate student Michelle Spelay says the micro-units sound functional but not that comfortable. (CBC)

Finding housing as a student at UBC is challenging and the micro-units could work despite their restrictive size, said graduate student Michelle Spelay.

"It's cheap and affordable for students if you just want to go to school and then come home and do your homework."

Second-year political science student Vedrana Tomic isn't so sure.

"It's not worth it, because honestly it's just ridiculous that people would pay that much for less than 200 sq. ft."

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