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Living rooms

Young people are now being told they don’t need living rooms

A ‘leading architect’ has stated that ‘hotel room-sized’ flats are all young people need

It’s apparently that time of the month again: someone has said something stupid about young people and the housing market.

From studies suggesting that this current generation of 18 to 35 year olds are totally fucked, have a lower quality of life, and comments about how our penchant for avocado on toast means that we’ve eliminated ourselves from the housing market, baby boomers love banging on about how young people should stop having lives and buying food in order to afford homes. Oh, and how we should stop bloody complaining about it.

Well now, according to a leading architect, young people hoping to jump on the property ladder should stop being so entitled and forgo the idea of having  supplementary space to live when (or if) they buy a property, The Telegraph reports.

Patrik Schumacher, the company director and senior designer at Zaha Hadid Architects who worked on the London Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympic Games, has suggested that for most young professionals a “hotel room-sized” studio flat is all they really need.

“For many young professionals who are out and about networking 24/7, a small, clean, private hotel room-sized central patch serves their needs perfectly well," he wrote in a paper published by the Adam Smith Institute, and which was probably written in a room very large in central London home that cost a lot of money.

Currently, U.K. law stipulates that new build flats need to be a minimum of 38 square metres, and Schumacher believes that this copious amount of space is preventing young professionals from acquiring homes, arguing that “we know that studio apartments could be sold or rented at 50 per cent of their current size”.

“Units half that size, built at an earlier time, are rare and thus at the moment overpriced, hotly desired commodities, for rent or for sale,” he said. “Lifting this prohibition would allow a whole new (lower) income group, which is now excluded, to enter the market. This move would both boost overall unit numbers and affordability.”

What Schumacher is suggesting, essentially, is that young people don’t need the extra living space, like living rooms, previously bestowed upon older generations, and that we should all exist alone in flats the size of a small Travelodge hotel room. He also argues that there’s “no rational, pragmatic arguments” that suggest that this shouldn’t be the case, and that any rebuttals about individuals being “forced” to live in “rabbit hutches” or “slums” are redundantly “emotional and rhetorical”.

What Schumacher — who, in 2016, stated that streets and parks should be privatised — doesn’t seem aware of is that in many London flatshares, tenants do live without an abundance of space, with many landlords transforming living rooms into bedrooms to capitalise on the amount of rent they can make.

Perhaps, rather than suggesting young people to live isolated in tiny spaces where you shit, sleep, and eat all in the same room (probably still for a price that no one can actually afford), we could enforce the regulation of rents, prevent rogue landlords from ripping us off, and actually keep up with the targets for building normal-sized affordable housing. Just a thought…