Curbed NY takes a gander at the five finalists selected in the adAPT NYC micro-apartment design competition. Here's my story on the 55-unit winner, My Micro NY, which, judging from the other top proposals, appears to be the most conventional of the lot. I'm liking the amenity-heavy Max, the entrant from a development team comprised of Blesso Properties & Bronx Pro Group LLC, HWKN, and James McCullar Architects. TreeHugger's Lloyd Alter takes a closer look at the LifeEdited entry here.

Grist points out the obvious: Beneath all the hype, the code-defying "teensy live-in closets"planned for Manhattan's Kips Bay neighborhood and other micro-unit projects aren't exactly affordable and that a majority of the units in the new building (the 60 percent that aren't renting for under market rate) will "cost as much as a standard and much larger studio, further driving up the per-square-foot price of housing in one of the country’s most expensive cities." Elaborates Susie Cagle: "Micro apartments address density, but not diversity or affordability. If we want our cities to grow, we need to make room for families and others who are not content or able to squeeze into homes the size of a parking space."

Architizer squeezes into LaunchPad, a model micro-apartment designed by Pierluigi Colombo and Amie Gross Architects (that's it pictured up top). The 325-square-foot "dollhouse/storage locker/'apartment' of the future" is the centerpiece of a new exhibition now showing at the Museum of the City of New York titled "Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers."Writes Lamar Anderson: "In Gross’s micro-unit, transformable furnishings by Clei and Resource Furniture make changing rooms as easy as lifting a bed. Besides, who needs a bedroom that isn’t also your living room when you can hide a hot-pink bar behind your TV?"

AOL Real Estate breaks out the rubbing alcohol to share a few pointers on at-home flue prevention. Crack those windows open just a bit, folks!

The Wall Street Journal takes in The New American Home, the ever-evolving showhome erected annually for the International Builders' Show. Says Robbie Whelan of this year's Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired, LEED Platinum-certified abode from Las Vegas developer Blue Heron: "Sprawling at nearly 7,000 square feet, the home features a subterranean courtyard, thousands of square feet of artificial water features, massive concrete-like overhangs, metal hand rails, faux-travertine floors and dozens of glass walls. The home has a price tag of about $4 million." Adds Melanie S. Taylor, architect and designer of 2002's TNAH: "...  the heavy forms of the house look as if they were designed by a defense contractor" ... "This house functions better as a party pavilion than as a safe and comfortable home for children or the elderly."

NPR shares the alarming tale of a Parisian known only as "Dominique" who has been living in a 17-square-foot flat for the past 15 years. The monthly rent? About $442. There's a bit of confusion as to the actual size of  the "habitable space" in the apartment but still, that's one tiny, shower-less apartment.

Curbed wrangles up "10 Incredible One-Star Yelp Reviews of Ikea." A glowing review from my local outpost of the home furnishings mega-retailer:  "Here's a tip for shopping at Ikea. Start with a narcotic of some kind, preferably a lot of it. Get all doped up so you don't notice what a bad time you're having there, how the crowds wander aimlessly through the different departments, picking things up and putting them down again, rubbing their hands on upholstered surfaces, bouncing on the display mattresses, wiping their noses on the drapes hung from the ceiling."

Dezeen bundles up for a look at the Meme Meadows Experiment House, a translucent, super-insulated "Chise"-style cabin in Hokkaido, Japan, designed to withstand some pretty chilly temps. "The fundamental idea of Chise, 'house of the earth,' is to keep warming up the ground this way and retrieve the radiation heat generated from it," explains project architect Kengo Kuma Associates.

Smart Planet ponders the Oxijet shower head, a water-saving "air shower" concept from New Zealand-based Felton in collaboration with The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Explains Jie Wu, CSIRO's fluids specialist: "Traditional flow restrictors reduce flow and pressure, whereas Oxijet uses the flow energy to draw air into the water stream, making the water droplets hollow. This expands the volume of the shower stream, meaning you can save the same amount of water, while still enjoying your shower.” All and all, the Oxijet uses 50 percent water than traditional shower heads.

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Playing catch up: Small spaces, big developments
Sardine can-sized dwellings dominate the news yet again with the unveiling of the winning proposal in the adAPT NYC design competition.