Compact buildings are being experimented with the world over, but India is not listening

A unique exercise in urban living, a Tokyo apartment today is made of a single room. It incorporates living and dining areas and a cupboard containing two sets of clothes and shoes. The kitchen, bathroom and bed emerge from the wall when needed. The minimalist apartment is the lifestyle choice of a growing number of Japanese couples consciously reducing their possessions. There is a similar micro-house in the hills of Northern California, part of a prefabricated package that includes delivery and construction within two weeks. At 500 sq.ft., the wooden structure resembles a doll’s house but it can accommodate a family of four.

In San Francisco, you can rent a tiny cube with a fold-out bed, a WC and sink — just the bare necessities for a night. 


In a country with a history of traditional smallness, the experiments with small homes, small transport, small streets and neighbourhoods, can only come from a wholehearted reversal of urban values. Before that happens, we will need a few precedents: the prime minister will have to move into a small town house in Defence Colony, much like 10, Downing Street; when senior Trump comes visiting he will have to be picked up in a Nano; ministers will have to ride electric rickshaws to Parliament; and the Ambanis will have to convert their 34-storey home into an Airbnb.