Pipe dream? Hong Kong architect proposes low-cost tube homes

In this Tuesday, March 13, 2018, photo, architect James Law poses during an interview at his OPod tube house in Hong Kong's industrial area of Kwun Tong. Hong Kong’s notoriously expensive housing makes owning an affordable home a pipe dream for many residents. But the local architect proposed a novel idea to help alleviate the problem: building stylish micro-apartments inside giant concrete drainage pipes. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Drain pipe micro-homes latest idea for alleviating Hong Kong's shortage of affordable housing

HONG KONG — Hong Kong's notoriously expensive housing makes owning an affordable home a pipe dream for many residents.

A local architect has proposed a novel idea to help alleviate that problem: building stylish micro-apartments inside giant concrete drainage pipes.

James Law's OPod Tube Housing is still just at the conceptual stage, but it's attracted attention as an innovative though untested way to deal with housing shortages.

At 100 square feet (9.3 square meters) the tube houses are not that much smaller than Hong Kong's infamous "cubicle homes" — older apartments subdivided into cramped and squalid living spaces. They're roomier than other types of tenement housing, such as so-called "coffin" and "cage" homes.

The idea came to Law when he spotted some leftover storm sewer drain pipes at a construction site.

They might be converted into "really cute micro-living architecture," he said.

Law has only built a prototype to test public interest but has already received inquiries from around the world.

There's a lot crammed into the OPod. It consists of two sections of 2.5-meter (about 8 foot) diameter pipes fitted with glass doors on both ends. A living area inside includes a bench that converts into a bed, opposite shelves on the facing, curving wall. Another shelf fits a bar fridge and a microwave next to a galley sink beneath an air conditioner. A tiled bathroom at the end includes a combined shower and toilet.

The OPod cost $15,000 to build. Law said he envisions renting them out for less than $400 a month to recent graduates on low incomes trying to get a foot on the housing ladder. That's a fraction of the market rate.

"My dream is the OPods will be a new kind of living for young people just starting out in life," Law said.

It's less a long-term solution to Hong Kong's housing crisis than a novel way to make use of leftover spaces where conventional housing doesn't fit. The pipe homes could be stacked into gaps between buildings, under highway overpasses or on the roofs of existing buildings.

"This kind of house is really portable. We (can) actually make it in a construction site and then we lift it onto a truck and we can deliver it anywhere," Law said. "So it represents a new, affordable architecture."

___

Online:

James Law's firm: http://www.jameslawcybertecture.com

___

Follow Josie Wong on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JosieWonghk

Follow Kelvin Chan on Twitter at www.twitter.com/chanman

You may also like these

US tycoon's China scholarship project opens doors...

Sep 10, 2016

A new scholarship program intended to rival the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships and build...

China says it can't end North Korea nuke program...

Sep 12, 2016

China says the United States has inflamed the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and must carry the...

China's electric vehicle industry shaken by...

Sep 13, 2016

China's electric vehicle industry, a flagship for Beijing's technology ambitions, has been rocked...

Global markets mixed after Wall Street loss

Dec 23, 2016

Asian markets are mostly lower while Europe has gained in early trading ahead of the Christmas...

China plans 30,000-km high speed rail network by...

Dec 29, 2016

The Chinese government is planning to expand the country's high-speed rail network to 30,000...

Sign up now!

The Financial Capital is your independent source for finance information and advice. We provide insights and offer advice from financial experts so you can make the best decisions.

Contact us: sales[at]thefinancialcapital.com