Imagine life inside a concrete water pipe, complete with all the mod-cons of a cozy home and plenty of natural light to boot. Are these tube homes the answer to Hong Kong's housing problem? https://t.co/HNR0Y7k99I via @CNNStyle pic.twitter.com/9jmjmPoHRo
— CNN International (@cnni) January 24, 2018
Eight years. That’s how long Hong Kong has held the undesirable title of world’s most expensive city for home-buyers. The 14th annual Demographia’s International Housing Affordability survey released recently showed Hong Kong still standing firm at the top of the list of cities with the most unaffordable housing. It does not look like a title the city is about to shake off any time soon.
A study by HSBC in February 2017 found that, 74 per cent of millennials in Britain, 80 per cent in the United States and 91 per cent in mainland China intended to buy homes in the next five years. This in stark contrast to the 27 per cent of 18-24 year olds in Hong Kong who plan on buying a flat, as found in a survey by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups in November.
The ratio of house price to family income has risen to 19.4 in Hong Kong. This means it would take 19.4 years for a resident in the city to save up for a home as long as they had no other expenditure. In comparison, in a healthy housing market the ratio should be between three and six.
Unsurprisingly therefore, alleviations for the housing crisis are being sought; the most striking of all being James Law’s Opod “tube homes”. Law’s proposed “tube home” measures 100 feet. To put that into perspective an average one-car garage spans about 200 square feet.
The prototype, his firm, James Law Cybertecture, have made is manufactured from a 8.2-foot-diameter water pipe. It houses a sofa that folds out into a bed, shelves, microwave, mini-fridge and a bathroom with a shower. The front of the pod is a fully glazed panel doubling up as a door and a window.
As one way to temporarily relieve the housing shortage, Law envisions that his Opod’s could stack up in unused urban spaces such as shipyards, between buildings, or under highways.
The “tube home” would cost approximately £11,000 according to Law, and less than £300 a month to rent out. Since the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in the centre of Honk Kong is currently over £1,500, this could certainly become an attractive option for citizens looking for something affordable in the short-term.
The housing situation in Hong Kong does not look like it is going to be solved anytime soon and Law’s Opod is no long-term solution; but it may at least offer some hope for the young people in the city, that an affordable starter home may be on the horizon, or under the highway, quite soon.