Stop building new village houses

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 December, 2012, 3:23am

There has been a lot of talk over the years about whether every male child of Hong Kong's "indigenous" villagers should continue to have the legal right to build a new village house.

I would argue they should no longer have such a right. Nobody should have the right to build any more of these houses because these cheap, concrete shells represent an outdated, outmoded form of architecture that requires the maximum use of energy simply to keep them livable in; to cool them in summer and to warm them in winter.

The concept of insulation, just as an example, is one which has not yet reached the New Territories, to say nothing of solar heating, recyclable waste, and water and double glazing, and if you have ever wondered why Hong Kong issues a cold-weather warning when the temperature goes down to 14 degrees Celsius, it is because for village house dwellers, when it's 14 degrees outside, it's the same temperature inside, unless there are heaters churning out some basic warmth.

The indigenous villagers' house policy is unsustainable due to a lack of land. The increasing cost and, of course, the price of electricity and oil can only make things worse, given the current talk about the already difficult lives of poor people in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong needs to abandon this village house concept and design a new, 21st century small house, which incorporates some, if not all, of the benefits of modern international house-building technology.

Certainly it will cost more to build, but when has the selling price of a dwelling in the SAR ever borne any direct relationship to the cost? The price of housing is another battle that is already being fought. To continue to build outdated village houses would be a shameful practice anywhere, but in a place that likes to call itself a world city, it should no longer be tolerated.

Denis Williamson, Lamma