The trend of living in smaller spaces is really catching on. The tiny house movement has gained a little notoriety after being featured on home improvement shows and national publications. A tiny house builder can easily be found with a quick internet search with floor plans ranging from 115 square feet to 300 square feet. A lot of tiny house residents want the chance to get away from their hectic lives and commune with nature. Their tiny house might be a retreat or a more full-time settlement and usually feature lots of natural light and natural wood. Most tiny houses are mobile and can be found somewhere scenic- with a view of a lake somewhere on the east coast, overlooking beautiful mountains, nestled in a wooded retreat, or within reach of the salty air in the Pacific Northwest.

For those who would also like to dwell in 300 square feet, but want a different view entirely, micro apartments in the best urban areas are just starting to catch on too. These apartments are for those who love the vibrant feel of Manhattan, San Francisco, Boston, or Seattle but don’t need or want a big space. Many micro apartment tenants are living alone with a minimalistic feel. This lifestyle choice shows an emphasis on the demand for convenience and location over physical space and the ability to entertain.

What do tiny houses and micro apartments mean for the construction industry along with the architecture and engineering industries? Opportunity. These two tiny living choices have made an impact on architecture, engineering, and construction already and while gaining popularity could make even more of a splash. AEC firms have to become increasingly creative to find the right balance of being small and being open in just the right location. A smart use of space is what makes tiny dwellings possible and that starts with the plans. Creative storage and versatile spaces are required in tiny dwellings. If these obstacles can be overcome, however, fewer materials needed with a higher price tag per foot than many other homes leave this market with huge opportunity for AEC firms.

Keep in mind, many tiny dwellers are visionaries and want a heavy hand in what their space will be like. They want the beautiful architectural touches that say craftsman or urban minimalism in the tiny spaces they call home. Micro apartments don’t always allow for as much resident input, but the style has to be there. Capturing the spirit of this demographic will bring success to AEC firms who look to make it big in this tiny niche.