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Travelling to Hong Kong? You could soon check into a drainage pipe with glass doors

A local architect in Hong Kong may have solved Hong Kong’s notorious space crunch: He’s designed stylish micro-apartments inside giant drainage pipes.

more lifestyle Updated: Mar 15, 2018 11:41 IST
Associated Press, Hong Kong
Hong Kong,Hong Kong houses,Where to stay in Hong Kong
An OPod tube house created by architect James Law at Hong Kong's industrial area of Kwun Tong. (AP)

Next time you are holidaying in Hong Kong, do take out time to see the stylish micro-apartments inside giant concrete drainage pipes there. The city is notorious for its expensive housing. Now, thanks to a local architect, there could be a solution.

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.

Architect James Law poses inside his OPod tube house. (AP)
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. (AP)
It consists of two sections of 2.5-meter (about 8 foot) diameter pipes fitted with glass doors on both ends. (AP)

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.”

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First Published: Mar 15, 2018 11:40 IST