Four-year-old Vera Wong Zi-wei’s favourite possession isn’t the most up-to-date Disney princess doll, but her completely new study desk that matches into the 200 sq ft subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po she calls home.
Wong’s desk, including a secret compartment on her behalf stationery and toys, is really a rare commodity for families which can be squeezed into cluttered, shoebox apartments.
“She used to only have the ability to do homework over a folding table that would have to be set aside constantly, but now she could work and play within the same space. It’s the first place she goes toward 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 that contain benefitted from a project that aims to change the living quarters of tiny flats with Furniture Hong Kong.
“Many grass-roots families don’t hold the extra cash to pay on furniture. Instead, they’ll hoard plenty of second-hand furniture even though it’s not so practical since they don’t know if they’ll have the capacity to afford it down the road,” 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 with the South China Morning Post since 2013, can offer up to 120 low-income families with custom-made furniture, including desks, shelves and storage cupboards, and in addition give their property a mini-makeover by rearranging their living space.
Prior to the modification, Yan’s apartment barely had any walking space when folding tables were create for lunch or homework.
A three-seater sofa which also doubled like a bed for Yan’s elderly mother had blocked half the corridor that generated the bathroom and kitchen.
A huge desk with little space for storage took up many of the living room, as 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 existing furniture and designed the analysis desk and two new shelving units to suit Yan’s living area.
By utilising the high ceilings in old tenement houses, Yan’s family could make use of floor-to-ceiling storage as opposed to having storage boxes take up limited floor area.
By having an average four-year watch for public housing and ever-increasing rents in the private sector, many residents who live beneath the poverty line are required to tolerate cramped 47dexlpky squalid living issues that range from cage homes to coffin cubicles.
Almost 200,000 people lived in certain 88,000 subdivided units in 2015, according to official figures.
The Society for Community Organisation’s project concentrates on families with education needs, in the hope that providing a dedicated working space will help children focus better on their studies and in the end supply the family an opportunity to escape poverty.
“Most of your children we work together with lie on the ground or bed to accomplish their homework, and it’s not beneficial to their own health or development, but this project may help change that,” Lui said.
DOMAT, the not-for-profit architecture firm that designs the table Hong Kong, visits each family individually and makes things to suit the family unit along with the peculiar layouts resulting from partitioned flats.
The furniture, built from a contractor in mainland China, was designed to be flexible so it can remain with the family when it moves into another subdivided flat or public housing.
“Based on their own daily habits, we have seen how our designs can match their demands. We wish 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 procedure for the project is also a key reason why the firm will not like working together with developers.
“What I realised [in building high rises] is the fact so much of the process is controlled by market demand and what could pull in additional money,” Ma said.
“In an easy method, they sacrifice a little bit of the user’s needs, and then we wanted to look for designs which are more humane. This project actually makes us understand more about how people live and what is most critical to them.”
Although she was made to move out from her apartment into another subdivided flat right after the installation, Yan said the new furniture had transformed her home.
“When you initially move into a flat, you don’t think excessive about the furniture. Everything was fine given that we had space to put our things. But now, we can observe how practical Lounge chairs hk can be and the way it will make a much better living quarters,” she said.
Ma’s partner and fellow architect Mark Kingsley said: “It’s nothing like those TV shows where you go to the house and they’ve totally transformed it into something completely different. The ambition from the project is a lot more modest – to make small changes that may have a big influence on your family.”