Four-year-old Vera Wong Zi-wei’s favourite possession isn’t the latest Disney princess doll, but her brand-new study desk that suits to the 200 sq ft subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po she calls home.
Wong’s desk, complete with a secret compartment on her stationery and toys, can be a rare commodity for families which can be squeezed into cluttered, shoebox apartments.
“She used to only have the ability to do homework on the folding table that would have to be set aside all the time, the good news is she can work and play from the same space. It’s the initial place she would go to when she gets home now,” Wong’s mother, Yan Nga-chi, said.
Coffin cubicles, caged homes and subdivisions … life inside Hong Kong’s grim low income housing
Wong, who lives with her mother and grandmother, is among 70 low-income families which may have benefitted from the project that aims to transform the liveable space of tiny flats with Furniture shop in Hong Kong.
“Many grass-roots families don’t possess the extra cash to spend on furniture. Instead, they’ll hoard lots of second-hand furniture regardless of whether it’s not very practical simply because they don’t determine they’ll be capable of afford it in the foreseeable future,” said social worker Angela Lui Yi-shan, who runs the project with human rights advocacy group Society for Community Organisation.
The HK$3 million home modification project, sponsored by the South China Morning Post since 2013, can provide around 120 low-income families with custom-made furniture, for example desks, shelves and storage cupboards, as well as give their house a mini-makeover by rearranging their living space.
Before the modification, Yan’s apartment barely had any walking space when folding tables were set up for dinner or homework.
A three-seater sofa which also doubled as a bed for Yan’s elderly mother had blocked half the corridor that generated the bathroom and kitchen.
A big desk with little storage area took up the majority of the living room area, even though the floor was cluttered with multiple plastic boxes piled on the top of each other.
Hong Kong’s poorest squeezed as rents for tiny subdivided flats rise at double rate for other homes
The team of architects rearranged the current furniture and designed the analysis desk as well as two new shelving units to match Yan’s living area.
By utilising the top ceilings in old tenement houses, Yan’s family could utilize floor-to-ceiling storage as opposed to having storage boxes use up limited floor area.
With the average four-year watch for public housing and ever-increasing rents from the private sector, many residents who live below the poverty line are required to tolerate cramped 47dexlpky squalid living problems that vary from cage homes to coffin cubicles.
Almost 200,000 people lived in some 88,000 subdivided units in 2015, according to official figures.
The Society for Community Organisation’s project is focused on families with education needs, in the hope that providing a dedicated working space may help children focus better on the studies and in the end give the family an opportunity to escape poverty.
“Most in the children we assist lie on the floor or bed to perform their homework, and it’s not best for their own health or development, but this project will help change that,” Lui said.
DOMAT, the not-for-profit architecture firm that designs the Dining table Hong Kong, visits each family individually and makes things to suit the family unit and the peculiar layouts due to partitioned flats.
The furniture, built from a contractor in mainland China, is made to be flexible so it can stay with the family if it moves into another subdivided flat or public housing.
“Based on their daily habits, we see how our designs can match their requirements. We want to use furniture as a tool to enhance their space, rather than just providing new furniture,” architect Maggie Ma said.
The company’s personal method of the project can be another key good reason that the firm is not going to like working with developers.
“What I realised [in building high rises] is the fact that a lot of the procedure is controlled by market demand and so what can bring in more income,” Ma said.
“In an easy method, they sacrifice some the user’s needs, so we wanted to search for designs which can be more humane. This project actually causes us to be understand more details on how people live and what exactly is most significant to them.”
Although she was compelled to move from her apartment into another subdivided flat after the installation, Yan said the newest furniture had transformed her home.
“When you initially transfer to a flat, you don’t think an excessive amount of in regards to the furniture. Everything was fine as long as we had space to put our things. The good news is, we can easily see how practical Office chairs Hong Kong can be and how it will make an improved liveable space,” she said.
Ma’s partner and fellow architect Mark Kingsley said: “It’s unlike those Television shows where you visit the home and they’ve totally transformed it into something totally different. The ambition of the project is far more modest – to create small changes that will have a big impact on your family.”