Society wraps up prize for design

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2007, 12:00am

It looks like a present. With a cardboard cover designed to look like wrapping paper and a magnet-pull red ribbon decoration at the front, the Hong Kong Housing Society's 2006 annual report comes as an offering to the community.

The original design, with easy-to-read content split into chapters following the gift-wrap theme, earned a citation from the HKMA for Achievement in Design in the Best Annual Reports Awards in the 'non-profit making and charitable organisations category'.

The society's executive director Wong Lai-chun said the idea behind the gift-wrap and ribbons theme, interspersed throughout the 102-page annual report, was to give a warm feeling to the reader 'because our theme is meeting the needs and caring for the community'.

The society, whose main aim is to provide affordable housing and related services for residents, hired design company TDA - The Design Associates, which had helped to compile the report for the past five years.

The report is divided into social contribution and business, with the chapters showing the four key areas the society works in - urban renewal, housing for the elderly, social and environmental responsibilities and the building management and maintenance scheme.

Each chapter contains a 'gift' from the community. An e-mail or letter sent to staff from a member of the public in appreciation of their efforts.

Amid the usual sprinkling of group photographs of employees, are vibrant photos with a happy family theme. These include a little girl with flowers and a smiling elderly couple, all helping to break up the chapters and text. Brightly-coloured charts ensure the statistics are easily understood.

'Our photos are presented in bright colours, we always try to put forward a positive and cheerful message,' Ms Wong said. 'For example, two of the names used in our housing for the elderly are Cheerful Place and Jolly Court. We want to put a smile on their faces .'

The chairman's report at the front gets down to the nitty-gritty of what occurred in the four key areas and in the society's business operations, such as property and financial management and corporate development.

Set up in 1948, the society was a community response to the devastation wrought by the second world war. An estimated one-in-four were homeless in Hong Kong, a situation exacerbated after more people returned and thousands of refugees started pouring in from the mainland after the Communist Revolution in 1949.

In addition to the four main areas, the society also provided services to the Housing Society Academy, said corporate communications manager Peter Kuk. 'The academy organises exchange programmes abroad for students,' he said. 'It was set up two years ago. We also sponsor students studying housing-related subjects.'

'It's a social initiative,' he said. 'It's our gift to the community.'