IN: Inspiration

Pipe dreams

Architects design concrete pipe homes to meet Hong Kong’s current housing shortage


The city of Hong Kong is currently facing a major housing crisis. Demands for accommodation, rising population, property-price surges and limited land have all led to a shortage of affordable homes in the great metropolis.

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According to the 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, Hong Kong is home to the least affordable housing market in the entire world. In response to the house shortage, architects at James Law Cybertecture have developed a concept for a portable home made from repurposed concrete. This low-cost, stackable micro-home is designed to fit almost anywhere, including between buildings and in empty industrial lots. Built from readily available concrete pipes, the design makes use of a strong structure that is ideal for cheap, short- to medium-length accommodation.

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Called the OPod, each unit is a 2.5-metre-wide, pipe-shaped home with a floor space of around 9.29 square metres. It is capable of housing up to two people. Each OPod is equipped with separate or transformable areas for living, cooking and ablutions. Space-saving technology also helps maximise indoor living areas. Smart locks keep the home’s contents secure and can be unlocked by the tenant using his/her smartphone.

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At the moment, the affordable OPod is still in the prototype phase of development. It is also one of several new “nano flats” (flats whose floor space is less than 200 square feet) designed to meet Hong Kong’s growing demand for affordable housing.

Though studio founder James Law does not see his proposal as a long-term answer to the current crisis, he thinks it could give temporary relief to those wishing to live in Hong Kong, but who cannot afford private housing. While the project is still in the experimental stage, Law is currently in talks to begin renting and installing OPod homes.

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Photography: James Law Cybertecture

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