Millennials do not need living rooms, a leading architect has said, as he complains that size rules in the UK are shutting young people out of the housing market there.

In a briefing paper Patrik Schumacher, who worked on the London Aquatics Centre built for the Olympics, argued that centrally-located "hotel-room sized" studio flats are ideal for busy young people, the Daily Telegraph reports.

"Those who are now making the hard choice between paying 80 per cent of their income on a central flat versus commuting from afar, will in the liberalised future appreciate new options and perhaps choose to pay only 60 per cent for a smaller but more central flat.

"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 said.


The most central homes should be given to people "whose productive lives are most enhanced by being thus positioned, i.e. those who operate at the centre of our network society, attending early morning meetings, after work networking events,weekend conferences, and professional lectures," he said.

Schumacher, a senior designer at Zaha Hadid Architects, argues in the paper published by the Adam Smith Institute that the minimum size of 38 square metres on newbuild flats is "paternalistic" and stops poorer young people from getting on the housing ladder.

"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.

"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," he said.

The architect argued that centrally-located
The architect argued that centrally-located "hotel-room sized" studio flats are ideal for busy young people. Photo / 123rf

Any suggestion that smaller homes should be allowed means the debate "becomes quickly emotional and rhetorical with phrases like 'rabbit hutches' and 'slums' standing in for arguments", he added.

He also argued against restrictions imposed by local planning authorities which dictate the types of flat which must be built in a particular development, as well as regulations such as minimum room sizes, building heights and building outlines.

He said planning regulations have been "unduly politicised and thereby paralysed".

In 2016 the controversial architect told an audience at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin that public spaces such as streets and parks in London should be privatised and social housing should be abolished.


Dan Wilson Craw, of campaign group Generation Rent, said the group would welcome some changes to planning restrictions to "get homes built" but that building lots of small flats would risk "tearing up communities" by replacing larger family homes with individual units.

"Do we want to have a completely shifting society in our big cities where everyone is a paycheck away from losing their home and people are having to move very quickly and there's no chance of developing a sense of community?" he said.

Sophie Jarvis, a policy adviser at the Adam Smith Institute, said: "Millennials already know that they are at a massive disadvantage to their parents in terms of getting on the housing ladder.

"What they don't know is that rent caps and restrictive planning laws are holding them back, not helping them out. Liberalising planning laws, however, could get them on that ladder.

"The best example of this is if developers were allowed to build smaller houses, millennials could live in a compact, ergonomic flat in Zone 1 or 2, instead of a run-down, cold flat in at the end of the Central line or halfway to Hull."

Out of the box ideas

Five weird and wonderful ideas to solve the housing crisis

1. "Naked" homes:

Developer Naked House builds homes with only the minimum interiors, leaving buyers to kit them out with kitchens, bathrooms and even partition walls. As a result, the homes can be sold for as little as £150,000 ($296,000).

2. Micro houses:
How much space does a homeowner really need? As little as 19 sq m, according to developer U&I, which last year developed a "compact living" flat to help people on normal incomes afford to live in the centre of the capital.

3. £1 homes:
Stoke City Council first made headlines in 2013 when it announced it would sell homes for £1 in a bid to regenerate whole streets of the city that had been left derelict. Buyers had to have a certain income and commit to staying.

4. Building above rail lines:
Engineers WSP released a report last year that suggested there was enough space in London to build around 250,000 homes over the capital's rail lines. Very little new land needs to be found to make a big difference, it said.

5. Going higher:
The new draft planning framework suggests that councils should allow upward extensions on top of existing homes. Building up, and not out, is often a better way of tackling housing shortages, in urban areas in particular.