Hong Kong is infamous for its sky-high property prices and high living standards. Everyone, except the 8% elites and company tycoons, are suffering. Millennials suffered the most, and some of them are even contemplating on leaving Hong Kong for good. As a research lead architecture studio, we have learned this: contrary to the popularized stereotype, most millennials (i.e. 23 to 35 years old) do work hard. Millennials who are ascertaining certain degree of successes (e.g. young celebrity chefs, musicians, PhD students, start-up owners, designers etc.), both locals or expats, are craving for individuality and private spaces. These young and passionate souls needed both private and shared spaces; private spaces so that they may better galvanize their ideas, and shared space so that they may learn from each other and create opportunities. What Hong Kong failed to provide, is the adequacy of quality private dwellings. Groundwork was not only the architect, we are also the brand builder, operator, illustrator and market researcher. We are also responsible for the market positioning strategy.
Our client had bought two old 8 stories buildings (around 50 years of age); one at Ma Tau Wai and another at Mong Kok – both aged and weathered areas in Hong Kong. After 3 months of market research, we learned that there is a service gap in the housing market for millennials who are gaining moderate successes in life. Between 2014 to 2018. There were an influx and abundances of “co-living” / dormitory spaces in Hong Kong, i.e. a bunk bed space with shared toilets and bathroom. Each of these bed space will cost around 1000 USD. What if we provide quality, en-suite small serviced apartments, for 1,300 USD? Will there be a demand for these? Someone with an average monthly salary of 40,000 HKD (5,000 USD, which is not bad) will need 16 years to pay-off the cost of an 500sq.ft (50sq.m) apartment; providing that there is no inflation, the housing prices will not inflate and this person does not need to eat or to be entertained for 16 years. We must provide good quality dwellings for the young who are ambitious and can “get there”. All they need are opportunities and a good resting space that they can afford. Our “design” is more than a pretty dwelling: Oootopia allowed tenants choose the services that they will be needing (e.g. daily laundry, refuse collection etc.). Choices are what we are advocating; the young must grow with choices; making choices also help someone to grow.
CLIENT \ A real estate company
ADDRESS \ 18 Sung Wong Toi Rd, Ma Tau Chung, Hong Kong (Kai Tak Oootopia)
8 Anchor Street, Tai Kok Tsui, Hong Kong (Anchor Street Oootopia)
ARCHITECT \ Groundwork, Architects + Associates Ltd. www.groundworkarchitect.com
PHOTOS \ Fiona Bao [email protected] South Ho