I guess I've had fantasies about lounging in bed gazing out of the window at the view, but in reality, the vast majority of time spent in my bedroom is sleeping with my eyes closed, watching some TV to put me to sleep, or checking out my i-phone or laptop screen.....
So is a windowless bedroom NOT a bedroom? Starting in the 1960's, many US lofts converted from prior commercial use as manufacturing left the US featured these internal bedrooms. Often they are dark and extremely quiet......in a world where our awareness of the importance of good sleep has spiraled in recent years, surely a dark, quiet sleeping area is a good thing? Many municipalities and governments do not allow you to count a windowless room as a bedroom. Obviously safety is a big concern, and the need for quality ventilation.
Now as we are confronted with an urgent need for more affordable housing options, converting some of the vacant downtown office buildings into apartments has been met with a consistent challenge: deep floor plates that do not allow lots of windows. When carving out more efficiently scaled apartments that have the square footage and dimensions to install internal, windowless bedrooms, it may be time to scrap the outdated laws around what qualifies as a bedroom. Maybe new regulations allow windowless bedrooms as long as they have specific fire-safety plans and outstanding ventilation.
In this lies a solution for two big challenges: creating more affordable housing options with reduced commutes ....AND finding new uses for office buildings that are not needed in over-supplied downtowns around the globe. Warehouse and commercial building conversions are nothing new: with so much unused square footage out there, let's use it with some minor modifications to our outdated laws. Windowless bedrooms are legal in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which may explain why those jurisdictions have converted significantly more buildings into housing than New York. Regulations and building codes are essential especially as they relate to safety, but they must evolve and adapt to shifting needs and times.
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