Comments from last week
The design I have done so far is very conventional, they are mainly changes from some existing design, like folding table, playing with cubes as stairs or social tables, and hiding stuffs in a drawer etc. More importantly it seems to have a disconnection between the room and people’s wellbeing. To make the project more interesting, it would better to see how far I can push the design to the crazy, imaginative perspective, and make it experimental.
This week I have moved beyond the function of a bedroom and started to investigate what else can happen within a small space that can increase individual’s wellbeing. I looked back the research findings from cultural probes, and got an insight from their wants of wanting to go travelling and hangout with friends. I then started to wonder whether I can bring the vocation vibe and togetherness in.
I invited 5 participants respectively, and had a Skype/ Zoom call with them for another co-design session. This time I asked each person to think of what they want or how the feel about the theme of “traveling” and “togetherness” with the size constrain of 67 square feet. I mentioned how they can be crazy about their ideas with no budget limit.
Consider I couldn’t hold this design session in person, plus the fact that they have no experience with those design tools. The way I did it was asking them to tell me their ideas, then I would sharescreen and create the room instantly on Sketchup.
This method turned out quite smoothly, the participants we were to share their ideas. Some even did an instantly drawing or send a moodboard to me about the theme they were aiming for. Most session were taken around an hour, but some participants took longer time to focus on the room details, so eventually we ended up using 2 hours or more to compete it. But while we were ending the session, many participants mentioned they would love to live in this “dream room”.
Among all of their designs, I found there are several similarities in terms of their ideas. For the travel theme, the scenery they aimed for are mostly away from their current busy city and more towards nature. The room set up is similar to a hotel or holiday resort with related to the places they want to go. There was a participant who created a US summer vibe, where another participant designed a traditional mini London library. One participants even stimulate experience of a plane ride and turned the room into a first-class seat with mini fridge and plane food cart.
In terms of the theme of togetherness, the participants would tend to add sofas (with many fuzzy cushions) for conversation. They would also include group activities items like boardgames, Chinese turnable table, hotpot, or a collection of mugs as representation of being together with others. One other common factor is that they would make use of current technology and add big screens/ VR for connecting others. They would even prefer sharing screen to watch movies together. In addition, one thing that was mentioned twice by the participants was sound and the on call experience. They mentioned being able to listen hear sound from their friends would makes them feel less lonely.
Case Study — Modular Living Structure
One thing that I wasn’t sure about was deciding whether I should apply modular design with the interior part or consider it as a new modular living structure and build it somewhere in Hong Kong… But with whatever decision, I still wanted to know more about the existing designs as well as how it can be formed. Therefore I decided to do a few case studies.
These modular pods was designed by a shanghai-based architect Florian Marquet. His idea was to use this modular system to replace homes for future generations.The system consists of 6 different units with varies sizes to serve functions ranging from sleep, shower, cook, to work and farming.It also comes with an app for people to make orders and customise their preferable units.
I first saw this design on a TV show called George Clarke ‘s Amazing Spaces. This design was designed by Barry Jackson and the idea was inspired by hexagonal bee hive structure. The size of each unit is identical with around 100 square feet. This modular systems allows people has the flexible shape that allows people to build with it’s original form of hexagon size or even with the breakdown units of diamond or triangular shapes, providing endless design configurations.In his design, it also demonstrated how a floor to ceiling window panels can be expanded and turned into a hexagonal deck.
This is another modular housing design that I saw from George Clark’s show. In the video, designer Sam Booth was proposing this modular system to his client for the first time just with his prototype.Eco pods also comes with identical module units that are made from 100 square feet. One of the main features of this design is the chosen material of sustainable wood being used. Theses modules are supported by some adjustable legs, which can help to reduce environmental impact. It also allows people to make customisation with the layouts, interior finishes, types of insulation and external cladding.
Understanding Housing Situation in Hong Kong
I did some more research on understanding the housing situation in Hong Kong. Turns out there are two main reasons that explains why houses in Hong Kong are small and unaffordable.
1. Lack of space
Hong Kong is a small city that has one of the world’s most dense population. With the limited land supply, it is said that the average living space of a person is around 180 square feet.
2. “Black Box” Land sales process
Hong Kong government owns the land of Hong Kong. Each year, they would plan and sell part of the lands to developer through a tender process for developing private flats, hotels and office with a 50 year leases. Some critics pointed our that the government would grants the lease to the highest bidder so as to ensure they have enough money. For that reason, prices for private-housing are getting higher and higher since then. Waiting time for public/ social-housing has always been long throughout the years. For people who can afford private apartment that are currently staying in public housing, they would prefer to remain the current status, prolonging the wait for others.
Modular Construction in Hong Kong
Modular construction have been promoted to the world for over 10 years, however Hong Kong has been slow to adopt such construction. Fortunately the city have started to adapted it a bit more in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped the city to fasten the adoption as well. When the outbreak first started in Wuhan, China, the construction workers have successfully built a hospital with 1000 hospital beds within 10 days, this real life example has lead to more building opportunities to Hong Kong.
During the pandemic, Hong Kong applied the modular construction and build a temporary space in Sai Kung to serve as a quarantine spot. Hong Kong have started applying modular construction on public housing at Jat Min Cheung estate in Sha Tin as a trial scheme as well. There are more pilot projects being approved to serve as a workspace, student hostel and transitional social housing as well. It shows there is potential to apply modular construction in Hong Kong.
Design Idea & Potential Outcome
After having design session with participants and getting a deeper understand with Hong Kong. I started to think how I can bring their “dream vacation” to the current location. With the potential of building new modular houses, I was thinking instead of turning their bedroom to a vacation home, why not turn it into a small temporary business that allows them to get away from their home a bit. This concept is similar to staycation that the hotels in Hong Kong are doing right now, but what’s more is that it includes a travel theme that allows them to feel they are at that particular place instead of Hong Kong. That way, people can take a break from from home and have an enjoyable stay at another place.
As for the outcome, I was thinking of create a housing catalog to pretend these modular travel themed homes are ready for sell and allow people to choose.
Since my participants do not live in the same country as I do, I have figured out a new way to conduct a design session remotely on live, which is to hold a Zoom call first, then sharescreen so they would know what I’m drawing on Sketchup while still able to communicate.
In general, I would say the process smoothly, but it was until a point where my laptop counldn’t handle that much design work (RAM) which lead to slowing the making progress a bit. Fortunately, the participants were very patience. While we had to wait for the computer to load at certain moments, we made use of those time and talked more about their ideas. I would say this using such way to conduct workshop/ research is a feasible method for future use.
Batten, J. (2018) We need to get creative to fix Hong Kong’s housing crisis. Available at: https://www.scmp.com/property/hong-kong-china/article/2159404/we-need-get-creative-fix-hong-kongs-housing-crisis (Accessed: 27 November 2020).
Erman, M. (2018) These modular pods by florian marquet are designed to replace homes for future generations. Available at: https://www.designboom.com/architecture/the-org-flexible-modular-system-florian-marquet-08-20-2018/ (Accessed: 27 November 2020).
Lisa, A. (2014) HIVEHAUS® — Innovative Modular Eco Pods Operate Off-Grid in Any Locale. Available at: https://inhabitat.com/innovative-modular-eco-pods-operate-off-grid-in-any-locale/(Accessed: 27 November 2020).
Tomlinson, P. (2020) From temporary housing to luxury high-rises, modular construction is a faster, safer, greener way to build. Available at: https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/article/3096768/temporary-housing-luxury-high-rises-modular-construction (Accessed: 27 November 2020).
Williamson, C. (2013) HIVEHAUS® — A Modular Hexagonal Home By Barry Jackson. Available at: https://design-milk.com/hivehaus-modular-hexagonal-home-barry-jackson/ (Accessed: 27 November 2020).
Zhao, S. (2019) Housing Society unveils trial modular public housing scheme for elderly that aims to provide quicker cheaper homes for Hong Kong. Available at: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/hong-kong-economy/article/2188296/housing-society-unveils-trial-modular-public (Accessed: 27 November 2020).