Comments from last week

I have made a great progress in terms of the design, the way I did the design session with the participants was very innovative for doing online distance digital design research. However the designs were still very predictable with the restricted theme, and it seems that I haven’t put much social context with the situation in Hong Kong at the moment.

2nd Design Session

Since my role is an UX designer instead of an architect nor interior designer, I decided to move on from solving the practical issue of physical space, and focus on the experience instead. I found the participants again and did another design session with them.

Learning from past experience, this time I went way more to the imaginative world and told them they can be anywhere they want where things doesn’t have to make sense at all. I gave out a few examples such as going to places heaven or Alice in the Wonderland, any place that beyond the reach of the plane

The design session turned out great! Although people did need sometime to warmup their thoughts from being rational to imaginative, they got used to it very quickly after a few guidance by me, and brought out a lot of creative ideas throughout the session. They had fun during the process and sounded more excited when seeing the model began to take shape.

Design 1 — Overwater Bungalow Style
Design 2 — Ultimate Space
Design 3 — Nature Park
Design 4 — Childhood/ Entertainment Style
Design 5 — Winter Underworld

Analysis

Without any boundaries, every design looked very differently, people would imagine themselves in the sky, igloo or even in space. One participant thought of adding marshmallow cushions to serve as a chilling sitting spot as well as snacks to eat whenever she is hungry. Another participant also made use of the pipe that appears in Mario to create more space and travel to somewhere else. All in all, one similarity that appears to every design is that: whether it is underwater, space , natural park or in the sky, all of these places have unlimited space and away from the crowded busy city. What I also learnt from holding the design session is knowing how people can have a mental escape from reality and dream about what brings them joy through visualising their fantasy thoughts into 3D models. Although I didn’t help to solve the realistic problem with space, but the experience I offered did help with their mental part a bit.

2nd Design Session Summary

Research on HK Working and Housing

I also did more research on the working and housing situation in Hong Kong to understand cause and reasonings behind the current state.

Work Situation in HK

According to Kisi, a cloud-based access control company, their research on work-life balance city in 2020 has shown that Hong Kong is ranking first for the most overworked city out of the 50 cities worldwide. In terms of the Happiness, Culture & Leisure category that focus on the enjoyment of one’s environment during non-working hours, Hong Kong is ranking second to last. It shows that Hong Kong people are having a imbalance life and their wellbeing isn’t positive at all.

Hong Kong is the 1st overworked city in 2020

Housing Situation in HK

In terms of housing, I got a deeper understand with Hong Kong’s land and public housing situation, as well as the factors that leads to the long term housing shortage. I combined my research findings from last week and made a summary.

HK Housing Situation Summary

Basically, there are some 6 reasons that explains why land in Hong Kong is very expensive, including:

  1. Lack of space (limited land supply)
  2. Unjust land allocation
  3. Property investment & “Blackbox” land sales process
  4. Land value rise over time
  5. Monetary policy with U.S.
  6. New immigrants from Mainland China

When land in Hong Kong is already expensive, the price of the house would definitely not cheap. Another reason that makes Hong Kong housing even unaffordable is the fact that that wage index and household income are not catching up with the house price. In a global survey released in January by United States research firm Demographia, Hong Kong retained its title as the world’s least affordable housing market for a ninth consecutive year. The average price for a home is 20.9 times the annual household income in Hong Kong. Not only it is hard for people to own a home, new residential buildings are also getting smaller and smaller. According to an article that was published in South China Morning Post, there are over 200,000 Hong Kong people living in subdivided units where living conditions are less than satisfactory.

In terms of public housing, the situation doesn’t give too much hope to people as well, it has long waiting time with low success rate. It has been said that the average waiting time is 5.6 years. For middle class whom income is not eligible for public housing but also too low to buy or rent a flat, it makes the situation even worse.

There are also other additional factors that leads to housing shortage in Hong Kong, which includes:

1. Unwillingness to switch from public housing to private ones

2. Increase in demand for small housing unit

3. Immigration policy over the years

  • One Way Permit Scheme (OWPS)
  • Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
  • Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)
  • Policy to Chinese Students from Mainland

All of these factors explains why houses in Hong Kong are very small and unaffordable.

Design Outcome Idea

Struggles

When it comes to deciding the design outcome, I went through many stages of thinking because I thought there are many outcome options that I can choose from. At the very beginning, I was thinking of making a model of each design to showcase the fantasy thoughts the participants had through the design session, but then would be too time consuming with consideration of the remaining time I have left. I also received feedbacks on turning their fantasy homes in a more realistic way and make a model of that, or do more workshops like this and document the process an outcome. There were many thoughts in my head that made me hard to make decision…

Fortunately, after chatting with couple tutors asking for advice, I got inspired by a point when a tutor asked me “what story would you like to deliver”. It’s true, when I know what story or message I want to send out, then I would know what design outcome to make.

Final Idea

In speculation design, one thing that is important is to bring the idea back to reality in a way that people would believe such things is possible in the near future. Eventually, I decided to set up a storyline that happens in the year of 2050. By this time technology is already advance enough to turn many impossible ideas to possible (similar to the world like Doraemon). I have started to develop a storyline where there’s another coronavirus and people need to stuck at home. Instead of not knowing how to handle the negative emotions from past experience, people nowadays can purchase different products to build fantasy homes themselves inside their home. And to help to deliver this story, I was planning to create:

  1. A news article to describe the news as well as the year that is happening
  2. A physical model as a sample home for people to know what’s possible to make in their home; and lastly
  3. A product catalogue that showcases the products that are available to buy for creating a fantasy home.

With these three elements, I thought it would be persuasive enough to tell the story, and showcase the designs I have done with my participants.

Reflection

I’m glad I did the design session again this week because it really did help me to bring my project forward. Turning those crazy ideas into 3D models was also a challenge yet enjoyable process to me. I feel proud of myself on the things that the participants and I created together. More importantly, I got insight from doing this workshop and realising how this design session could actually help them without them noticing.

On the other hand, I have learnt and understood so much about the situation in Hong Kong. The problems in Hong Kong is way more than just limited space and being over populated… I can feel the struggle the employed young adults are feeling right now, especially for the ones who recently got married but still struggle to find a home.

In addition, I also found myself funny with the struggle on can’t deciding what to do with my final outcome… On my previous blogs, I have been mentioning not know what to do for my final outcome, but this week I realised there were too many options to choose from. It is sarcasm isn’t it? I feel surprise as well…

Reference

Chang, Z., 2018. Immigration and the neighborhood: New evidence from recent immigrants in Hong Kong. International Real Estate Review, 21(4), pp.549–566.

Clennett, B,. and Jakubec, M. (2019) A lack of affordable housing feeds Hong Kong’s discontent. Available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2019/8/11/a-lack-of-affordable-housing-feeds-hong-kongs-discontent (Accessed: 8 December 2020).

Hong Kong Housing Authority (2020) Number of Applications and Average Waiting Time for Public Rental Housing. Available at: https://www.housingauthority.gov.hk/en/about-us/publications-and-statistics/prh-applications-average-waiting-time/index.html (Accessed: 8 December 2020).

Leung, C.K., Ng, C.Y.J. and Tang, E., 2020. Why is the Hong Kong housing market unaffordable? Some stylized facts and estimations. Some Stylized Facts and Estimations (April, 2020). Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper, (380).

Ng, K.C. (2019) Hong Kong doctors join localist protest against one-way permit scheme, as mainland migrant influx blamed for stretched hospitals. Available at: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/society/article/2185597/hong-kong-doctors-join-localist-protest-against-one-way (Accessed: 9 December 2020).