Four-year-old Vera Wong Zi-wei’s favourite possession isn’t the newest Disney princess doll, but her brand new study desk which fits in the 200 sq ft subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po she calls home.
Wong’s desk, including a secret compartment on her stationery and toys, can be a rare commodity for families which can be squeezed into cluttered, shoebox apartments.
“She accustomed to only be able to do homework on the folding table that had to be set aside at all times, the good news is she will work and play within the same space. It’s the first place she will 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 together mother and grandmother, is one of 70 low-income families which have benefitted coming from a project that aims to transform the living area of tiny flats with Furniture Hong Kong.
“Many grass-roots families don’t possess the extra revenue to spend on furniture. Instead, they’ll hoard a great deal of second-hand furniture even though it’s not very practical simply because they don’t determine they’ll be capable of afford it in the 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 through the South China Morning Post since 2013, can provide up to 120 low-income families with custom-made furniture, like desks, shelves and storage cupboards, and also give their house a mini-makeover by rearranging their liveable space.
Before the modification, Yan’s apartment barely had any walking space when folding tables were set up for lunch or homework.
A three-seater sofa that also doubled as a bed for Yan’s elderly mother had blocked half the corridor that resulted in the bathroom and kitchen.
A huge desk with little storage area took up most of the family room, even though the floor was cluttered with multiple plastic boxes piled on the top of the other.
Hong Kong’s poorest squeezed as rents for tiny subdivided flats rise at double rate for other homes
They of architects rearranged the current furniture and designed the research desk and two new shelving units to match Yan’s living area.
By utilising our prime ceilings in old tenement houses, Yan’s family could utilize floor-to-ceiling storage instead of having storage boxes occupy limited floor area.
With an average four-year await public housing and ever-increasing rents inside the private sector, many residents who live beneath the poverty line have to tolerate cramped 47dexlpky squalid living problems that cover anything from cage homes to coffin cubicles.
Almost 200,000 people lived in certain 88,000 subdivided units in 2015, as outlined by official figures.
The Society for Community Organisation’s project focuses on families with education needs, in the hope that providing a passionate working space will help children focus better on their studies and finally give the family the opportunity to escape poverty.
“Most in the children we work together with lie on the floor or bed to accomplish 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 table Hong Kong, visits each family individually and makes items to suit your family and the peculiar layouts due to partitioned flats.
The furniture, built by way of a contractor in mainland China, is made to be flexible therefore it can stay with the family whether it moves into another subdivided flat or public housing.
“Based on their daily habits, we notice how our designs can match the requirements. We would like to use furniture like a tool to further improve their space, as opposed to just providing new furniture,” architect Maggie Ma said.
The company’s personal approach to the project can be another key reason why the firm does not like working together with developers.
“What I realised [in building high rises] is the fact a lot of the process is controlled by market demand and what can bring in more cash,” Ma said.
“In a way, they sacrifice a little bit of the user’s needs, and then we wanted to look for designs which can be more humane. This project actually causes us to be understand more about how people live and what exactly is most important in their mind.”
Although she was made to move from her apartment into another subdivided flat following the installation, Yan said the latest furniture had transformed her home.
“When you first move into a flat, you don’t really think too much about the furniture. Everything was fine as long as we had space to put our things. The good news is, we are able to see how practical Lounge chairs hk might be and the way it will make a much better living space,” she said.
Ma’s partner and fellow architect Mark Kingsley said: “It’s unlike those Tv programs where you go to the home and they’ve totally transformed it into something totally different. The ambition from the project is much more modest – to make small changes that may have a big effect on the household.”