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Micro Loft Tiny Apartments in Vancouver Rent for $850 a Month, Under 300 Square Feet


The thirty tiny apartments at 18 West Hastings Street are ideally located for young professionals who otherwise couldn’t afford to live downtown in notoriously expensive Vancouver, Canada. On the flipside, this new residential complex is located in a downtown neighborhood known for low incomes and high crime rates.

The Burns Block building that now offers micro lofts measuring less than 300 square feet used to provide cheap housing as a single room occupancy hotel. The new complex offers compact, high-end apartments for the up and coming but is it at the expense of the down and out?

When the building opened on December 19, the designers revealed the transformation from sketchy hotel to high-end housing complex. Politicians and supporters of the project cite it as part of Vancouver’s affordable housing strategy and claim creating mixed income neighborhoods is the best way to improve the area.

Vancouver's Micro Loft Tiny Apartments

Photos Courtesy of Bruce Carscadden Architect

However, the renovation caused a stir among housing activists in the area who claim it is a clear sign of the classist gentrification occurring in the poorer parts of downtown Vancouver. Opponents of the new building fear it is a tactic to force out existing residents rather than providing the social services that the neighborhood needs. They cite the West Hastings building is one of the first major signs of gentrification in the downtown eastside.

Vancouver's Micro Loft Tiny Apartments

The micro loft complex is one of the few non-subsidized housing opportunities in the neighborhood. Each unit ranges from 226 to 291 square feet and comes furnished with a fold-down bed, compact appliances, a flat screen TV, a sofa, several chairs and a coffee table. High ceilings and prominent windows make the tiny living spaces cozy. At $850 a month, including cable TV and internet, the lofts are actually notably inexpensive compared to other comparable Vancouver apartments.

Before the Burns Block building was condemned, it housed a seedy hotel known for housing sex workers and drug addicts. Next door, a non-profit home for sex workers, drug addicts and people with terminal illnesses reminds micro loft tenants that this is still a gritty part of downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver's Micro Loft Tiny Apartments Vancouver's Micro Loft Tiny Apartments Vancouver's Micro Loft Tiny Apartments Vancouver's Micro Loft Tiny Apartments

Photos Courtesy of Bruce Carscadden Architect

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Written by Newt Stremple for Tiny House Talk

Sources: http://carscadden.ca/#1885235/18-WEST-HASTINGS-MICROLOFTS (architect), http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/01/10/vancouver-micro-lofts-a-small-world-after-all-2/ (article), http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/12/19/bc-tiny-apartments.html (video)

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 25 comments… add one }
  • January 23, 2012, 10:01 am

    This project is interesting because they made use of a current building and turned it into something people want to live in. It’s too bad it’s in the middle of such a bad area, etc. If this were done in a less populated city, I imagine the rent would be more affordable. If the price were in line with what I pay right now, it would only cost $450/month or so if that were in my area. That would be a nice option to have.

  • Avatar Kevin
    January 23, 2012, 11:37 am

    Nice layout, except for that poor green couch stuck in the corner. Utilizing high ceilings and wide plank flooring makes any size space feel larger and less cluttered. Sometimes it would be nice to see something that is “NOT” homage to IKEA though; they all seem so sterile and commercial to me. Light woods and soft colors can easily make any home more cozy and warm, no matter the size of it. Tossing in a plant or two is always nice. Hmmm… Perhaps that’s the reason for the green couch?

    • January 23, 2012, 3:03 pm

      You’re right- it is missing that natural touch. The flooring is really nice looking though. Thanks, Kevin!

  • Avatar Kat
    January 23, 2012, 12:22 pm

    Great idea, but they could have used something that didn’t smack you in the face as institutional. I would feel as if I were in prison or hospital in such a glossy, sterile looking place. In a smaller city it may be more affordable (I still could not afford this!) and maybe in a bit safer neighborhood? Great idea ~ not so great looks. Don’t mind the Ikea thing so much, but they DO make items with color!! Even some wood tones in the cabinetry would make it more livable. But, at least someone is trying!! That’s a great start!

  • Avatar Susan G
    January 23, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Ikea has some brilliant small space solutions… affordable too… too bad this is in such a bad area… but this is a great idea for all those empty office buildings just sitting there…for all it includes the price isn’t that bad…

    • January 23, 2012, 3:05 pm

      Susan- I hope we see more developers doing this with unused office buildings, etc. That’s something that’s always been on my mind.. To make use of what’s already out there. And this is a great way to do it.

  • Avatar Danielle
    January 23, 2012, 10:56 pm

    Great concept. Very nice space, maybe not the best location though! I can see these apartments catching on in big cities for affordable living. I’d rent one!

    • January 25, 2012, 2:39 pm

      Thanks, Danielle. I’d live in one too, just not there.

  • Avatar Dominick Bundy
    January 23, 2012, 11:49 pm

    This is something I’d be very interested in. but would rather own it as a Condo or a co-op..

    • January 25, 2012, 2:40 pm

      That’d be a great option.. to be able to own one. But again.. not in that area lol.

  • Avatar KimiErin
    January 24, 2012, 1:21 pm

    I work near-ish to these apartments. Bad bad area. Neat set up, but I think they should try doing this in the nicer part of town.

    • January 25, 2012, 2:40 pm

      Thanks for confirming that, Kimi. Have a great day!

    • Avatar Dominick Bundy
      January 25, 2012, 7:22 pm

      Hi Kim, But by doing what they are doing in that “bad” area. Is what makes the “bad” areas better areas…

      • Avatar KimiErin
        January 25, 2012, 7:38 pm

        I don’t understand what you are asking.

        What really needs to be done in that area is for it to be torn down and then rebuild with places like the above. not trying to put a chandelier in a haunted house. tear it down and start over. my 2 cents anyway.

        • Avatar Dominick Bundy
          January 25, 2012, 8:01 pm

          Okay let me explain, I wasn’t asking anything , but instead making a comment..There was a “bad area in my city as well.. With graffiti, boarded up houses high crime etc. A lot of these old buildings and homes had some historical history . And the bones of the places were in tact. So what happen People starting buying up the properties for as low as one dollar. And refurbishing them Which increased their value.by 500% in some case. So instead of tearing down Why not fix up if possible and restore to the grand old elegance of yesteryear..That’s all..

      • January 26, 2012, 11:20 am

        Good point Dominick.. Slow and steady improvements eventually lead it from “bad” to “good”. Can be controversial, though. Thanks!

        • Avatar sesameB
          January 26, 2012, 1:33 pm

          Alex & Dominick is 100% ci correct — slow and steady, case in point this book: Thinking, Fast and Slow [Hardcover] Daniel Kahneman (Author), this author is correct in saying this takes effort and hard work, which most people do not like it—slow thinking. Most of the time we think fast, and most of all we need to check. People do not take the time to check anything for truth.

  • Avatar Carl in SC
    January 28, 2012, 4:20 pm

    For a long time I have thought of the many towns and cities that have a block, sometimes several blocks, of two story building and sometimes the second level is used nowadays for storage, if at all. Years ago they may have been offices for doctors, lawyers, and so forth, but are no longer used.
    In Jefferson, GA there is such a building with a drug store, pizza shop, and a few other businesses on lower level, but second floor seems unused since I looked inside. I thought “it would be a great idea if someone would make this space into several apartments to rent out?” Right in the heart of the downtown. There’s a nice balcony across the entire front which would be a great place to sit. The area is growing and I’m sure there would be people willing to either rent the apartments or buy them. So many towns and cities have such buildings and could convert the upper level/levels into good quality housing.

    • January 28, 2012, 4:54 pm

      Great idea, Carl. I agree, too, might as well turned unused space that’s already there into usable housing.

    • Avatar Patricia
      January 29, 2012, 5:20 am

      When I was in Paris, France recently I noticed that most of the dwellings are above businesses.

      • January 29, 2012, 8:05 am

        Where I live we have some condos like that, in the downtown area, but they are over-sized and very expensive, although beautiful..

  • Avatar Stan Wolf
    January 29, 2012, 9:52 pm

    Is that a dishwasher under the kitchen counter? Really? In such a tiny space, is the value of a dishwashing appliance really greater than additional storage? I hope this is at least optional…

  • Avatar Carl in SC
    January 30, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Grand idea indeed. Decades ago in the small town of Anderson, SC my grandmother and a couple of sons rented the upstairs level of a two story home and two older ladies lived in the main level. Not sure if the upper floor had a kitchen or if that was shared in the lower level. It was right in town and convenient to shopping, churches, drugstores. Besides the idea of converting upper levels of business blocks into housing this is another way to do it.

  • Avatar Mary J
    January 14, 2014, 4:14 pm

    Interesting to read the comments here. It would have been sad if this building had been pulled down – it’s done hard time and now it’s been renewed and that’s my take on it! The apartments do seem bland now but with people living there with their own furniture, books and art, etc it will transform the whole space.

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