Spanish startup Haibu 4.0 thinks it’s found the solution to the housing crisis in Barcelona. Its "beehive"-style apartments are meant to provide an affordable solution to struggling Barcelona residents.
The apartments are called "beehive" because of their space (they measure 2.20 metres long by 1.20 metres wide and include a bed, table, shelf, and storage space) within a dormitory style building — all for €200 per month.
However, it's unclear whether the beehive housing project will be able to open its doors to the public.
Uncertainty over the project's legality
Marc Olivé, general manager of the project, told Euronews the company had applied through Barcelona’s city council for building permits more than two months ago. However, Barcelona denied this, saying the startup “never applied for a license”.
Without a license from the city, the "beehive" will not be able to legally house people.
Barcelona’s city council also told Euronews they cannot allow such a housing project to open because “the small size of the apartments does not comply with the city’s building laws.”
“The premises don’t fulfil the minimum requirements of habitability needed to be able to live with dignity and in suitable conditions,” said a press release by Barcelona’s city council concerning the project.
The Generalitat’s decree 141/2012 states that a person must live in at least five square metres.
Because of the apartments' miniature size, the council’s already warned authorities about the company’s website, according to local news site La Vanguardia.
The beehives will open 'with or without permits'
But to Olivé, the project will definitely open. He told Euronews he would continue with the initiative “with or without permits” from the city council.
When Euronews asked for the name of the person of the picture, the startup's spokesperson did not answer.
The rental price for each apartment would include all amenities. Kitchens and bathrooms are meant to be shared by the inhabitants of a beehive. The first one is set to open in the southern Sants-Mont Juic neighbourhood in only a few weeks.
“The remodelling of the building we bought is almost done, we’re just fine-tuning some details,” he said.
“We’re going to do it like this because that’s how this country works.”
However, there seems to be some internal confusion among the startup’s team members.
When Euronews asked to see pictures of the finished apartments, the startup's spokesperson (who did not give a name) said that they were still not finished — contradicting what Olive had originally said.
That same spokesperson later told Euronews, the company was still waiting for the permit and that the pictures of the finished apartments will be available in the next few days.
What the project is all about
Olivé said this type of housing already exists in Japan and that it represents an alternative for people who are looking for a very affordable room. However, the apartments are reserved for struggling residents of Barcelona and not tourists.
“The goal is to allow people to save up money so they can move somewhere else six months to a year later.”
In a press statement, the company said it had never received investment funds for tourism and that it was a collaborative project.
Only people between the ages of 25 and 45 and without a criminal record can rent in the beehive. They must also make a minimum of €450 a month.
To make sure the apartments are going to Barcelona residents only, people must prove they've lived in the city for at least 10 years. People with debts are given priority.
The "beehive" co-habitation rules are strict and if breached, the person can be expelled from the building.
According to the startup’s founders, they’ve already received more than 800 applications for 38 available apartments. Yet it remains to be seen whether the first "beehive" will actually come to fruition.