With the busiest streets, tallest apartments, dynamic trade centres and pilgrim centres, Hong Kong tops the charts for the thriving economy and trade opportunities.
This has redundantly increased the urban density and with stringent and diminishing authority on the land policies, solving the housing problems are one of the main concerns. As architects, we have the challenge of providing comfort and better standards of living with the baggage of insufficient spaces and environmental impurities.
Cybertecture, a domain of architecture, looks at integrating the planning of the city and its spaces with the same techniques of the functionality of the microchip. There are needs for structures that can imbibe the technological features which can assess the character and atmosphere of the interior spaces, transit the energies to the hotspots and manage the fluxing levels of distribution.
This aims to shift from the building strategies, to free the inert spaces from the supporting structures, dilute the material consumption and respond to the environment by lowering the surface area intake of the envelope the building encompasses.
One of the brainchildren of Architect James Law is enabling the use of concrete pipes as housing pods. Adhering to the busy lifestyle of the young working clan and their need for private habitats this is a transformation of the concrete drain pipes which served as mere carriers before.
Concrete is a material that has been around for a very long time. We’ve grown to adapt to it and its features of durability and thermal stability. The intent here is to use such modules to resemble flats, that can be shifted in case of land acquired. These come in with one fifth less cost than the housing for the same area.
With 15 square meters to offer it has the standard dimensions of 2.5 metres, height and width. The furniture recycled, ductile to serve the purpose of a living space/ bedroom based on the hours of the day. The shelves are made from the scaffolding remains of the other construction projects.
This stands up as an upgrade from the caged homes which almost seem inhuman and point to the deteriorating standards the city authority has to offer to its residents at an expensive price.
There are proposals to set in a chain of artificial islands, to shift the dwelling into the ocean, to make use of the potential it holds to make it as the third-largest central business district. The architectural competitions are being held to devise an inclusive solution, to aim for self-sufficiency.
But this doesn’t tackle the question to its roots? Is the micro-level living the most viable solution to the increasing density and rate of the standard of living? Affordability has been ignorantly blurred with making spaces smaller and smaller.
Architecture is a reflection of the functionality of a civic society. It is very much dependent on the economic policies, the bills proposing the city expansion, the future city land-use maps etc. One of the reasons for the peak price of living in Hong Kong is the shift to increase the land value immensely to cover for the tax-free system of trading and commerce. 62% of the land is not accessible to the public which remains in the locked or semi locked categories.
The urban sprawl is such an everyday activity which is so fast-paced yet unnoticed that by the time a regulation committee takes up any initiative it would have turned a drastic makeover.
Making pods hygienic, with multipurpose features is a current save, however on a long span, until regulations are made, the physical structures are evolved, the comfort of shelter and security it holds, we’ll continue to just adapt to the circumstances presented.