By Hiu Chun Kam
Hong Kong is a vastly dense and populated with over 7 million inhabitants within the Special Administrative Region's borders. Hong Kong's status as a free trade port garners much investment from Chinese investors that see Hong Kong as a economically stable and sound opportunity of an investment.
The ever-increasing investment in Hong Kong properties has resulted in the skyrocketing land prices of Hong Kong’s already limited land. The high investment and limited land in Hong Kong has resulted in the city becoming the world’s most expensive place to buy property.
Low income families and individuals find it an ever increasing burden to be able to afford rent to pay for shelter, as a result, they turn to Government Housing. It offers a lower rent, therefore it is a lower barrier for middle income citizens to overcome, and also a very attractive option.
However, the Government has failed to keep up to the high demands of housing as a result of economics, land dealerships and even politics. The queue for housing is growing daily. Many low income residents, especially single families turn to other temporary alternatives while they wait for their allocated housing.
The Kowloon City Rooftop Community is one of these many alternatives that these single families turn to. Temporary shelters at existing rooftops made using cheap materials and are vulnerable to strong winds and heavy rain in a region that is hit with Typhoons around 7-8 times a year.
Wood as a material allows for fast and easy construction. Therefore, my project envisions the Hong Kong Government to create a Government Hostel for single families that replaces these dangerous rooftop dwellings with a more stable wooden structure that has a much higher density that the existing rooftop community. It will hopefully serve as a precedent for more Rooftop Government Hostels within the Kowloon City rooftops.
The design of the Hostel is based around ancient Chinese Architecture and the idea of Architecture around a courtyard. The courtyard encourages community, communication and harmony within the numerous inhabitants within it’s perimeter. In the design, I have made a commitment to maintain the feel of community in the existing rooftop dwellings.
The courtyard also encourages views out around the Kowloon City area, where buildings are still at a low height due to historical restrictions from the old Kai Tak Airport. Designs have been slow to adapt to the lifted height restriction of the Kowloon City area allowing high rise buildings to still be in a minimum.
The construction of the Hostel requires 2 structure elements only. 3 LVL Panels that create an I beam and the LVL Panel itself. These 2 structural elements allow for the construction of every aspect in the Hostel.
The Project responds to its surrounding context by providing much needed shelter for Hong Kong’s lower-income population. An Architecture Proposal that will greatly reduce the city dwellers on the streets, and the roof dwellers that risk their lives every day, just for a basic human right in shelter.