Hong Kong property

Hong Kong graduates win prestigious German design award for co-living unit

‘Connex’ has divided what is a 600 sq ft flat into a circular 200 sq ft core area – serving as a shared sitting room, open kitchen and bathroom – with five individual bedrooms leading off it

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 October, 2017, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 4:55pm

A micro-flat designed by four mechanical engineering graduates from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and targeted at younger buyers has won a prestigious German iF Design Talent Award.

The “Connex” has divided what is a 600-square-foot flat into a circular 200 sq ft core area – serving as a shared sitting room, open kitchen and bathroom – with five individual bedrooms leading off it, via scrolling doors.

The design comes hot on the heels of a rash of launches, mainly by smaller developers, of so called co-living flats for young people in Hong Kong, including projects such as M3, SynBOX and Bibliotheque by Synergy Biz, and Mini Ocean Park Station by Eton Properties.

But local market observers have given mixed opinions on the winning design, which some suggest could meet problems clearing Hong Kong building regulations.

Among its critics is Phileas Kwan Po-lam, executive director of developer Asia Standard Group, who said the design had very limited potential.

“If adopted in reality, it will be famous but unpopular. In practice, Hong Kong residents prefer to have more privacy, which the design cannot offer,” he said.

“The idea is innovative but it has a lot of prerequisites needing fulfilled, including fire and building regulations which require windows must be located on three sides of a premises, and safety issues regarding the movable parts of the rooms.’

He also fears the economic viability of the design is undermined, as renovation costs were likely to be higher than on regular subdivided units.

Thomas Lam, head of valuation and consultancy at Knight Frank, also said it might be hard to find a suitable place for the design, but that smaller developers might be interested in using it to create rental properties which could prove solid long-term investments.

“Co-living is certainly a trend for the future, and some small developers might consider this attractive to potential tenants.

“Big players still like to build studios, small units or mini flats in a traditional way, so it’s unlikely to be a good seller [to individuals] as Hong Kong has many site restrictions and building limitations.

“Many old buildings or sites also probably cannot accommodate that many window openings, if you want natural lighting.”

Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho, Colliers International’s deputy managing director of valuation and advisory services, however, said the design could appeal to some millennials, who want to live independently but still start their own businesses.

“The design may be good for youngsters who want to link up with different parties to form their own businesses,” Cheung said.

“It is not just a space for living, but also one which allows an area to brainstorm new ideas.”