Architects set out their vision for no-frills flats

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 June, 2011, 12:00am


What is a no-frills, affordable flat?

The government has been encouraging developers to build such homes for people priced out of the market, but has not spelled out exactly what the term means.

Local architects will recommend a definition to the Urban Renewal Authority and the Housing Society.

'It's hard to persuade developers not to build luxury flats, so the government - especially the URA, which is in the best position to provide cheaper flats in renewal projects - should take the initiative,' said Susan Leung So-wan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects' board of local affairs.

'If these no-frills projects are well-received, then the private developers will be interested, too.'

The institute says a flat in a no-frills project should have a saleable area of 350 to 650 square feet with a 3.15 metres floor-to-floor height and a minimum bedroom size of 2.1 square metres. Buyers should be able to select fitting-out packages for internal walls, floor and ceiling finishes and for fittings such as sink units and kitchen cabinets, rather than accepting extravagant built-in sets.

Luxurious clubhouses with tennis courts and banquet rooms should be replaced by ones with basic facilities like study rooms, multi-function rooms and gymnasiums.

The institute says there is no need for a fully air-conditioned, hotel-like lobby. Attractive, low-maintenance interior finishes with air-conditioning only next to the lift and caretaker's counter are good enough.

Leung said there were too many unaffordable luxury flats on the market. She said production of no-frills flats should be based on what users want, not what developers or investors think will make them money.

In October last year, the URA defined a no-frills project as one with no unnecessary facilities and a small parking area, but did not elaborate.