London's Super Low Cost Y:Cube Houses Are the Living Accommodations of the Future

There are lot of reasons I moved out of New York — but one of them is definitely the fact that the city is just so damn expensive. But if Y:Cube houses, the amazing lodging innovation that’s currently helping out London, makes it to NYC, it might just be feasible for me and a whole lot of other people to live in some of the pricier cities of the world.

The YMCA is currently working on launching a set of these ultra-low-cost homes across the pond. At 300 square feet, they’re pretty petite, but that square footage contains a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom — in short, everything a one-person apartment requires. Rents will be set either at or below the Local Housing Allowance for a one-bedroom unit, making them accessible for those who might not otherwise be able to afford a one-bedroom flat (which can run as high as £2,500, or $4,000 a month!). And here’s the really neat part: The pre-fabricated modular units are fully constructed and finished in factories, and can be set in place immediately — and stacked on top of each other to create a community.

And don’t think that because they’re cost-effective they’re of poor quality. Built by Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners, Y:Cube houses are made of special panels called Insulshell — the same thing the Velodrom for the London Olympics was made out of. These panels make the units both simple to construct and so airtight that they take very little energy to heat. So, no, you won’t freeze in the winter living in one of these places. And since they’re about 40 percent cheaper to construct than a regular apartment building, the project — which costs £30,000 — will pay for itself in a mere 15 years.

The first community of 36 units is set to open in London’s Merton borough later this year; in the meantime, a prototype can be viewed at YMCA Wimbledon. “We’re trying to create places where people can go and feel like they’re part of the community,” said Ivan Harbour of Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners to Fast Co. “The whole sequence of spaces is essential so people don’t feel like they’ve been ghettoized.” Sounds fantastic to me!

Image: YMCA