By Michael Webb
As real estate values skyrocket, young professionals who want to live in the heart of big cities on a budget are increasingly drawn to micro apartments that provide them with a minimum of private space as an alternative to sharing. Living small is nothing new. The poor have always endured cramped quarters—from primitive huts to tenements or trailers—and the homeless are grateful for a modest room in an SRO. Le Corbusier and his wife spent many summers in their 12-foot-square cabin in Roquebrune. When he first visited India to design Chandigarh, the master said he couldn't improve on the versatility of the linear shacks that families construct from scavenged materials beside major highways. Little has changed since then. A few years ago, architect Bijoy Jain showed me through such a shelter outside his studio in Bombay; it was a marvel of ingenuity, impeccably maintained, and he was greeted as a welcome guest.