It’s happening in numerous cities across the globe: No longer able to afford to live and play in the cities in which they work, MTV-reared white-collar types with decent educations and respectable salaries are being priced out of urban rental markets. As rents for starter apartments continue to steadily climb out of reach, some of these young professionals wind up living in impossibly cramped (and criminally overpriced) shoe boxes; some take on multiple roommates; some opt for more unusual living situations.

Dutch construction behemoth Heijmans is firm in the belief that young and ambitious millennials shouldn’t be forced to reside in dingy garrets or rinky-dink apartments that gobble up the majority of an entire month’s salary. These young urban professionals shouldn’t have to continue to reside in dorm-esque setups or, gasp, move back in with their parents in the suburbs. They deserve better.

And so, Heijmans has launched Heijmans ONE, an affordable housing initiative in Amsterdam that specifically targets “the generation that falls between two stools” (read: well-educated, gainfully employed, single and between 25 and 35) while making use of forsaken city lots that have long been deemed eyesores.

Anneke Timmermans-Dalhuisen, a developer with Heijmans, explains: “These lots can be ours, they can be city-owned or owned by housing corporations or property developers. This allows us to use vacant lots sustainably and help young people out."

In these lots, Heijmans plans to install small clusters of attractive, solar-equipped prefab starter homes that, while by no means huge, are far more comfortable than most other available options for Gen Y’ers. As for the cost, the monthly rent for a Heijmans ONE unit is in the ballpark of 700 euros (about $852).

living room of dutch prefab Heijman

bedroom of Heijmans prefab starter home

Seven-hundred euros per month for rent is comparable to that of a small — and sometimes shared — rental apartment in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. But keep in mind that Heijmans ONE units are detached single-family person residences that come complete with a full kitchen, bathroom, living/dining area and a lofted bedroom with a small alcove for working. There’s even a patio. Again, the Heijmans ONE isn’t a palace but for 20- and 30-somethings accustomed to living in dimly lit, dainty dwellings, it’s an inviting living space that you wouldn’t be sheepish about throwing a small shindig in or bringing a new paramour home to.

“Most of all, we’ve wanted these homes to inspire a feeling of positivity. High ceilings, space, light, a nice view,” says Tim van der Grinten of Mood Works Architecture, the Amsterdam-based firm behind the modular design. “This project is a step in a new direction away from permanent, immovable properties.”

What the Dutch prefabs look like lined up together

Factory-built using wood as a primary material, Heijmans ONE units are completely portable, allowing them to be easily relocated from lot to lot by truck if need be. Install time for each unit is about a day. And as Gizmag points out, the grid-tied solar arrays that top each slender dwelling help to offset, not completely erase, monthly electric costs. However, Heijmans does plan to make these beautiful starters homes completely self-sufficient in the future.

Thus far, a pair of Heijmans ONE prototype homes have been installed on Zeeburger Island, a largely desolate island on the east side of Amsterdam that's also home to a shipping container village for social misfits and mean neighbors. One of the homes was recently populated for a three-month trial run by 28-year-old editor Carmen Felix.

"Twenty-eight years old, a full-time job, everything in my life is pretty well in order, but it is difficult to find a suitable home. At the moment I still live with a friend in the house I stayed in as a student. The Heijmans ONE dovetails perfectly with that problem," explains Felix, who was selected by Heijmans from a pool of more than 230 applicants to take up residence in the test home.

Using feedback provided by Felix during her stay, the company plans to further tweak and refine the concept — “a temporary solution whose quality rivals that of permanent housing” — and eventually install 30 more units in available vacant lots across Amsterdam later this year.

Via [Gizmag], [Wired UK]

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

Dutch prefabs pretty-up vacants lots while providing housing for priced-out Gen Y'ers
Sleek, slender and topped with solar panels, Heijmans ONE is a rental unit that addresses the dearth of affordable housing options for young professionals.