'Efficiency apartments' an inefficient idea: critics

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Critics have slammed a proposal to develop super small apartments of only 20 square meters in Ho Chi Minh City as one that would create "slums in the sky."

The proposal, submitted to the Ministry of Construction by Dat Lanh Real Estate Company, aims to build 100 efficiency apartments in Ho Chi Minh City's District 12 and sell them at only VND300 million (US$15,800) each.

Nguyen Van Duc, deputy director of Dat Lanh, said the apartments are suitable for single people. Many large cities around the world have developed studio apartments of around 20-30 square meters each, he said.

But experts have expressed their concerns about the idea, saying it can end up creating more urban management problems.

An official of the Construction Department said housing demand in the city is now 14 square meters per person but will expand to 20 square meters in 2020.

According to Dat Lanh the small apartments are for single people but there are no regulations requiring them to move out after getting married or having children, the official said, noting that overcrowded residential projects will cause long-term damage to the society.

Architect Nguyen Truong Luu said the government has banned apartments of less than 45 square meters for a reason because basic needs like sleeping, eating, studying and socializing have to be met.

"If a family can't even manage to give their children a good place to study, how can they focus on learning?" Luu asked.

"Moreover, Ho Chi Minh City is working towards a stable urban structure with construction projects that can last at least 70 years. Approving super small apartments for short term purposes will go against such a goal."

Architect Luu Trong Hai said there is a real demand for small apartments but Dat Lanh's proposal needs to be considered carefully from the viewpoints of urban planning and management.

There are many possible ways to develop housing for low income residents, and it's not necessary to build very small apartments that impact larger city plans, he said.

Another expert told Thanh Nien the apartment combines bedroom, kitchen and bathroom facilities together and is more like a room than an apartment.

Also, the price set by Dat Lanh, of VND15 million per square meter, was not really low considering other developers are offering larger apartments at VND10-12 million per square meter, he said.

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