Are Repurposed Drain Pipes the Answer to Hong Kong’s Housing Crisis?

Photo of Josephine Platt
Global Travel Writer29 January 2020

The Tiny-house movement isn’t a new phenomenon. But there’s constant innovation in the way these houses come about. Repurposed drain pipes in Hong Kong are just one example of this.

Wherever you are in the world, scraping together a deposit for a flat is notoriously hard. This rings particularly true in the world’s most expensive property market of Hong Kong. And it’s something architect James Law seeks to combat through blue-sky thinking and creativity.

Out of repurposed drain pipes, James is hoping to reinvent the housing landscape with micro-apartments. Currently in prototype stage, these micro-homes – dubbed ‘OPod homes’ – are 8.2 feet wide with 100 square foot of living space, meaning they’re designed for one or two people. Inside, it’s pretty basic but you’ve got all of the essentials, including a bench that becomes a bed, a mini-fridge, along with a shower and toilet. Keeping it sleek, they’re all also fitted with wooden floors and mood lighting.

The Opods are currently in prototype stage

Housing over 7,000 buildings that are more than 35 metres tall, and densely packed with 7,000 residents per square kilometer, space is something Hong Kong, otherwise known as the Vertical City, lacks. With these Opods, the idea is that they slot neatly on top of one another in between buildings. Arriving as an alternative to private housing, residents can live in these tubes for one or two years, while finding their feet in the process through its scheme to help tenants save. Respective tenants would pay 3000HK$ (about £295) a month with just 1000HK$ (£98) going towards rental, while the rest of the money is kept safe and returned with interest.

It might sound like a pipe dream, but this could be the solution Hong Kong’s youth has been waiting for.

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