Need to Find a Home? Try Out a Tube
Necessity is often the mother of invention, or at least that may be the case when it comes to housing, as the shortage of living spaces that is all too common around the world has led to some innovative solutions.
Tel Aviv homeowners found that if they divided their apartments into separate units, plenty of people were willing to rent the smaller spaces individually. Landlords could thus increase revenues and tenants get the ability to live in a bustling city. Although this kind of solution is generally illegal, neither landlords nor tenants seem to have been deterred.
In Hong Kong, though, the situation is much more extreme. The city is one of the most overpopulated in the world. In the last 12 months, housing prices have risen non-stop, reaching historic highs, yet demand has not decreased. Tens of thousands of people want to live in Hong Kong, to the point where some are willing to live in a very confined area with no room to move an inch.
The numbers are mind-boggling. As of November 2017, the selling price of an apartment in Hong Kong was over USD 15,000 per square meter. As a result of the burgeoning demand, the landlords of some 200,000 apartments decided to split them into tiny living spaces, no more than six square meters each. According to government data from Hong Kong, more than 115,000 families there live in inadequate conditions, a nine percent increase from the previous year.
If Not a Container, Try a Pipe
Consequently, some people in Hong Kong have come up with several creative solutions. One of them is the use of shipping containers that can be converted into small apartments. Markbox, a Chinese manufacturer of such homes, says demand has doubled in the past year because the monthly rent for such spaces is relatively cheap, ranging from USD 384 to USD 640.
A much more interesting solution is the tube home, or Opod, made from repurposed concrete water pipes. The Opod is the brainchild of Chinese architect James Law, who says that these pipes can be used to build 11-square-meter compact apartments equipped with a bathroom, shower, and furniture. He suggests that they can be stacked on top of each other in the unused spaces between Hong Kong’s skyscrapers to create a “high-rise building” of sorts to accommodate young couples.
The Opod and other solutions are only temporary, of course. Many people from Hong Kong argue that the authorities should be expediting construction and continuing to seek more permanent housing solutions. But, in the meantime, there seems to be a market for these more out-of-the-box (or more accurately, in-the-tube) solutions. So, if you’ve given up trying to find an apartment in Tel Aviv and the idea of an Opod in Hong Kong appeals to you, it’s time to get on it.