GALLERY INDEX

Occupy Mid-levels: Affordable Youth Housing in Hong Kong

Architecture Design 5 Studio 2014-15

Related Staff : Au Fai

Students: Huang Danlei, Jiang Meng, Kim Hyun-ah, Lee Ka Ying, Shao Yue, Wong Ho Yuk, Wong Nga Suet, Yang Qian

Urgency for Affordable Youth Housing in Hong Kong

Soaring property prices in the past few years have given Hong Kong  the rank No. 1 of “Most Unaffordable Housing” in the world for the fourth straight year, according to a survey of 360 cities by US-based consultancy Demographia.  The survey reported that Hong Kong’s median home price was more than HK$4.02 million, while the annual median household income of HK$270,000 was nearly one-15th of the home price. Demographia rated housing affordability in Hong Kong as “severely unaffordable.”

Today buying home is mere fantasy for young people, even renting a place to live is too expensive. “Hong Kong’s young people want to untie the apron strings and live independently. Most cannot do so. Many live in their parents’ homes into their thirties,” said Rosanna Wong, executive director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.

Occupy Mid-levels

The need for affordable youth housing is no doubt one of the urgency for Hong Kong housing issue. Instead of finding new lands in the remote area or converting industrial buildings as proposed by the HKSAR government, this studio aims at the possibility of “occupying” the heart of Hong Kong city with youth housing.  During the Occupy Central movement took place in 2014, young people took their risk of violating the law, and raised their voices by occupying the streets with their own bodies. This studio takes the notion of occupancy architecturally and bring forward the presence of young people’s living to the densest area in Hong Kong. The “occupy” action of the youth housing is expected to enable an unconventional proximity among various urban activities and catalyze communication among various social, cultural and age groups.

The Mid-level area in Hong Kong is characterized by its steep sloping geography, complex and congested pedestrian and vehicular flow, vivid urban life and the concentration of luxurious apartments. Living in the mid-level is a symbol of wealth for Hong Kong people. The “occupy” action of the affordable youth housing does not only aim at fulfilling the need for youth housing, but also expects to enable the unconventional proximity between luxurious private housing and affordable housing, and explore the possibility of a new “living mix” among various social, cultural and age groups.

Four sites with various characteristics are chosen to be the testing grounds for “Occupy Mid-levels”. Each student in the studio is required to choose two of the sites and analyze their characteristics, problems and potentials, and propose housing typology, unit mix, spatial configuration and methods of assembly according to his/her own design interest. On each site, students are required to propose youth housing with total gross floor area of 5000 – 8000 m2. Public programs, informal gathering spaces, outdoor green space and/or any additional design components shall be proposed according to each individual concept.

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UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE