Study Buddy (Challenger): Hong Kong Housing Society tests ‘instant homes’ to speed up building flats at two projects

  • Study Buddy Challenger is for students who want to take their understanding to the next level with more difficult vocabulary and questions that will test their inference skills
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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Franki Yeung, project director for the Hong Kong Housing Society, showcases a building technique meant to speed up the construction of two projects. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Content provided by British Council

Read the following text, and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] The Hong Kong Housing Society is experimenting with a prefabricated construction method to shorten the time it takes to build new homes for two of its projects. The society, the city’s second-largest public housing provider after the Housing Authority, plans to build 28,000 homes over the next decade.

[2] It is testing the approach, known as “modular integrated construction” (MIC), at a 300-unit project at Hung Shui Kiu in the New Territories and a 64-unit project for elderly residents at Jat Min Chuen estate in Sha Tin.

[3] The prefab technique involves making free-standing, integrated modules at a mainland Chinese factory. Once finished, they undergo quality inspections before being transported across the border to be installed at the project site. Commonly used on the mainland, the method has been found to reduce construction time by 10 to 15 per cent, or about three months, compared to building at a site from scratch.

[4] Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged the Housing Authority last October to adopt the MIC approach in more projects to quickly increase the supply of housing and shorten the long queue of applicants.

[5] The Housing Society’s Hung Shui Kiu project will have 300 subsidised flats in a 25-storey block, expected to be completed in 2024. It will be the tallest building in the city constructed using the method. “The project involves more than 1,200 components prefabricated in the mainland. We have to make sure there are no mistakes during the assembly process,” said Franki Yeung Kai-yu, the society’s project director.

[6] Every prefab component had to be tagged, he said, so workers could use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to check where each part was supposed to go and track both the transport and installation processes. “By checking the tag, we’ll know immediately if a component is on the wrong floor or in the wrong flat,” Yeung added.

[7] The society’s Jat Min Chuen estate project for seniors will have elderly-friendly features such as extra-large entrances and doors to allow wheelchair access, and handrails along corridors and recreational facilities. It is expected to be completed by next year.

[8] The society has also considered using the prefab method in other projects. But Yeung said it was not always suitable as it was hard to arrange the transport and delivery of large prefab components weighing at least 20 tons. Not every construction site was suitable for it either.

[9] The society, a non-governmental organisation that describes itself as the city’s “housing laboratory”, plans to build more than 40,000 subsidised homes over the next 20 years. About 28,000 flats were expected to be completed over the coming decade, including at least 6,000 for new buyers and about 6,800 to be built as part of the redevelopment of existing estates.
Source: South China Morning Post, February 7


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. What is the advantage of using the prefabricated construction method according to paragraph 1?

2. Which of the following best describes “modular integrated construction” in paragraph 3?
A. It is a technique that requires a building to be constructed entirely on-site without the need for third parties.
B. It is a building method that allows construction companies to work on more than one building at a time.
C. It is a process in which parts of a building are produced elsewhere and then put together on-site.
D. none of the above

3. What does the “assembly process” in paragraph 5 refer to?

4. How do workers at the Hung Shui Kiu project ensure the correct parts are used when putting the building together?

5. According to paragraph 7, how will the Housing Society’s Jat Min Chuen estate project be different to the Hung Shui Kiu project, and why? (2 marks)

6. What factors need to be considered when deciding whether the prefabricated construction method can be applied to a project?

7. According to paragraph 9, which of the following groups are among those targeted by the Housing Society’s projects?
A. investors who want to buy new flats to rent to others
B. potential homeowners who cannot afford more expensive homes
C. property agencies
D. non-governmental organisations

8. Decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given in the text. (4 marks)
(i) Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is sceptical of “modular integrated construction” and the possible safety hazards it could bring.
(ii) When completed, the Hung Shui Kiu project will be the only building in the city constructed with the use of radio frequency identification technology.
(iii) The Housing Society will use the prefabricated construction method for most of the 40,000 subsidised homes it plans to build in the city.
(iv) Prefab construction takes significantly less time than on-site construction.

9. What is the purpose of this article?
A. to caution readers
B. to inspire readers
C. to convince readers
D. to inform readers

A rendering of the subsidised flats project in Hung Shui Kiu built with the modular integrated construction (MIC) approach by the Housing Society. Photo: Handout


1. It shortens the time it takes to build new homes.
2. C
3. how the different components of the Hung Shui Kiu project will be put together
4. Every prefab component is tagged, and radio frequency identification technology is used to check where each part is supposed to go.
5. The Jat Min Chuen estate project will have extra-large entrances and doors to allow wheelchair access, and handrails along corridors and recreational facilities because the building will house elderly residents who need these features.
6. Factors that need consideration before using the prefabricated construction method include the ease of transporting and delivering the larger prefab components, as well as the suitability of the construction site. 7. B
8. (i) F; (ii) NG; (iii) NG; (iv) T
9. D

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