Hong Kong residents’ living spaces are shrinking as property prices soar, but architect William Liu believes quality of life can nonetheless be improved through design, technology and change of lifestyle. Liu, the director of ARK, an architect and interior designer behind several major developments, believes trends in the way people lead their lives and advances in technology have created the potential to get more out of less space. “The trend in open kitchens is one area,” he said. “People do not necessarily cook a full meal so a full enclosed kitchen may not be necessary.” A typical open kitchen can save 17 square feet of space compared with a traditional enclosed kitchen because the circulation space is shared with the dinning room. Another space-saving device, said Liu, is to swap a bathtub for a shower. “People do not normally take a bath these days and prefer a shower. In the past we designed bathrooms that are a standard 2.3 metres by 1.5 metres [an area of 3.45 sq metres or 37 sq ft) so we can fit a bathtub. Nowadays, the bathrooms can be reduced to 1.2 metres by 2.15 m [an area of 2.58 sq metres or 27.7 sq ft) by adopting a shower,” he said. Together with the open kitchen, this arrangement can save a total of 26 sq ft - 4.3 per cent of space in the case of a 600 sq ft unit. Liu is the director of ARK, the architect and interior designer for major property projects ranging from mass homes to luxury residential and commercial towers. But his latest project, Park One, built by Henderson Land Development, in Cheung Sha Wan has recently come under the spotlight. The development set a new benchmark in terms of getting the most out of limited unit size. Henderson Land managed to fit four bedrooms plus two toilets into a 595 square-feet flat. Traditional design in Hong Kong dictates that an apartment with those features would be more likely to have an area of 1,000 square feet. “Mini flats are the result of affordability, supply and demand in a free market,” he said. “They are becoming a trend in other cities in the world too. As designers we take a positive approach and we use our design skills to improve the quality of life in any given situation.” Liu’s firm is also involved in Henderson Land’s other small-flat developments including the 76-unit High Place at 33 Carpenter Road, Kowloon City, with units of 166 sq ft to 700 sq ft; the 187-flat High One at 571 Fuk Wa Street, Cheung Sha Wan, with units ranging from 193 sq ft to 534 sq ft and the 136-unit Centerpoint development at 72 Staunton Street, Sai Yung Pun, which has units measuring 337 sq ft to 1,626 sq ft In C-Suite on P3, Liu talks about changes in design and the challenges facing the property market.