Hong Kong housing

Shared facilities eyed for space-starved Hong Kong residents in redevelopment projects

Urban Renewal Authority is examining feasibility of providing community storage spaces and laundry rooms so residents can enjoy more space at home

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 April, 2017, 7:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2017, 10:35pm

The Urban Renewal Authority is studying the feasibility of installing more shared facilities in buildings it redevelops as a way to free up space in small flats.

The facilities include “community storage spaces” on podiums and in basements to keep items that are not frequently used, and laundry rooms so residents do not need washing machines, the authority’s managing director, Wai Chi-sing, wrote in his online blog on Sunday.

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Micro-flats are becoming more popular in the city. The number of private units under 215 sq ft rose 154 per cent to 206 last year from 2013.

“Given the reality that living spaces are becoming smaller, my team and I have been thinking about how to utilise the limited space with innovative designs and to add new elements to our redevelopment projects,” Wai wrote.

My team and I have been thinking about how to utilise the limited space with innovative designs
Wai Chi-sing, URA managing director

He said some sites acquired by the authority were not big enough for large-scale development, with restrictive plot ratios at some allowing the construction of only a single block.

Shrinking household sizes – currently an average of 2.8 people – had also boosted demand for tiny flats, he added.

The number of households with just one or two people increased from 900,000 to 1.13 million between 2006 and 2016, according to official figures.

Wai said “community spaces” would allow residents to store seasonal items, such as heaters, dehumidifiers and quilts without occupying home space. They could also save money on renting mini-storage units.

He added that washing machines and dryers were not often used by small households, with many families preferring to get their clothes washed at laundries due to the city’s humid weather.

A 24-hour self-service laundry room within a residential building would be better for modern Hongkongers and would free up space for other purposes, he said.

But Wai said there were still some “feasibility and technical issues” to tackle, including how to satisfy fire safety rules.

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Hong Kong was ranked the world’s priciest home market for the seventh year in a row, according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey’s study of 406 cities around the world.

Officials are forecasting that the number of flats that are smaller than 429 sq ft will rise to 5,109 this year – triple the number for 2013.