The starting point of the analysis was the fact that the most wanted, best selling and most expensive ($/m²) apartments on Belgrade real-estate market are those of 30m², or 50m² divided in as many as possible small rooms. This fact carries a lot of implications – since all of the social groups are buying or renting apartments. If we skip the obvious case of the families that belong to vulnerable social groups that can’t afford to buy a bigger apartment (and that government’s social programs don’t help much either) – maybe we can conclude that certain number of flat-purchasers don’t need one. Maybe we can assume that there are people living in the city who have such a lifestyle which could be supported with the living space of 30 – 40 m².
The phenomenon becomes even more clear when we think about the collapse of the notion of archetypal Family in relation to the notion of the House in context of the modern city. Changing needs require revised definition of the comfortable apartment. Family, whose members are not bound to the mutual living space by any of its primary daily activities, naturally has different needs in comparison with the Families who gather around the table in the center of the House. Therefore a small apartment can be the curse of the vulnerable groups or the result of the lifestyle of people whose dwelling is dispersed throughout the urban matrix, along the paths of their daily migrations. (In any case small flats in Belgrade sometimes do not provide even the basic conditions for life – making their tenants to take some of the activities “outside” weather or not it is their free choice) Substandard flat without adequate functional context planned on the level of entire neighboring area simply can’t sustain humane life conditions. My thesis is that all of this boils down to conclusion that the small living unit is in fact an urban issue that requires a specific planning of the residential area.
Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade. 2008