Families are now happy with lesser living space and more common amenities in apartment complexes. By Nandhini Sundar

A move into an apartment from an independent bungalow, when mooted a few decades ago, was sure to elicit alarm, the response in most instances negative. Reason was the prospect of being confined to a few hundred square feet dwelling as against the sprawling expanse of a bungalow. This resistance prevailed even when apartment sizes were fairly large to offer the space and comfort of an independent dwelling.

Cut to the present and the scene is diametrically opposite, with a sprawling apartment unit viewed with apprehension, not only due to the cost but also the lifestyle it purports. Apartment unit sizes are fast shrinking even as they offer the required two or three bedrooms with balconies and utility spaces. The individual units now come with far more efficient, functional spaces, where wastage of space is either minimal or non-existent, the design of the interiors stretched to maximum possible functional efficiency and optimal use.

The mid- and upper-segment apartment complexes now offer three-bedroom units that range from less than 1,000 sq. ft to 1,700 sq. ft as against the earlier norm of units coming in sizes ranging from 1,800 to even 2,500 sq. ft in some cases. Two-bedroom units likewise come in the range of 800 sq. ft to a maximum of 1,300 sq. ft, while common amenities in the complex continue to address high lifestyle expectations.

Says Cyriac Joseph, Senior Vice-President, Marketing, Vaishnavi Group, “With land and unit costs increasing, affordability is an issue. So the demand is for smart, optimal spaces that do not compromise on quality, functionality or amenities as opposed to large units earlier in vogue. Yet, the sizes expected continue be larger than ones that prevail in metros such as Mumbai. A fairly decent size three-bedroom unit with two washrooms and balconies continues to be around 1,200 sq. ft in Bengaluru.”

According to him, the focus is on ensuring not even an inch of space is wasted or dysfunctional, the design offering maximum comfort and functionality. “We have thus come up with the concept of compact luxury homes where common amenities are high-end and the design and space management is cleverly managed to offer a comfortable two-bedroom unit in about 900 sq. ft and three-bedroom units in less than 1,200 sq. ft.”

Easy on maintenance

While Joseph rests this demand trend on the plank of affordability, Viswa Pratap Desu, Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, Brigade Group, avers it is more than just affordability. “It is a lifestyle choice as issues such as maintenance come in and smaller units are far easier to maintain in households that have young working couples.” According to him, families are looking for better common facilities, walking spaces, and sports areas than merely large individual units that require more maintenance.

“Even in the luxury segment, this trend is prevailing, the smaller sizes being more sought as compared to sprawling four-bedroom units. The fact that smaller sizes come at a lower cost adds to the advantage, the affordability factor coming into the mid- and upper segments.”

According to Suresh Hari, Vice-President, CREDAI, the emerging trend is more in tune with global patterns, where smaller units are sought. “The customer is looking more at functional aspects of a residence where the home is viewed as a place to recharge while all other activities including work, hobbies, sports and entertainment are carried outdoors. This has become more so with micro families and altering lifestyles. Buyers now focus on useable, practical spaces.”

He points to the emerging concept of compact units in apartment complexes as a result of this growing trend. “Unlike earlier, now a three-bedroom unit with an open kitchen and two washrooms is fitted smartly into an 1,100 sq. ft space without affecting functionality. This trend is seen across metros and even in peripheral regions where new developments are mushrooming because of availability of larger land parcels.”

Maximum functionality

Concurs M. Murali, Chairman and Managing Director, Shriram Properties. “This trend is evident in the last couple of years and units are being designed most efficiently to address this, where every square millimetre is planned and saved to bring in maximum functionality and efficiency. In one of our developments in Kolkata, a three-bedroom unit has been efficiently designed in 825 sq. ft. It comes with two washrooms, a balcony and utility space which indicate minute planning of the spaces to extract maximum functional efficiency without compromising on aesthetic appeal.”

According to Murali, these units are sought not only because of affordability. “The rental returns too are high as compared to larger units. There is less seeking of large luxury units currently in the market.” These sized down, yet functionally efficient units come in the price range of ₹40 lakh to ₹75 lakh depending on the square feet as well as the location and amenities of the apartment complex. If this emerging trend is a pointer, future developments are less likely to offer sprawling spaces that erstwhile apartments units did.

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