Hong Kong’s ‘Space Capsules’ Bring Tiny Housing To A New And Disturbing Level
Already plagued by a housing shortage, is Hong Kong taking the tiny movement too far?
Hong Kong has some of the highest property prices in the world. Perhaps you have seen the images of tiny apartments stacked on top of each other climbing to the heavens. Inside, families are packed into spaces that seem impossible even to your average New Yorker. Housing is a hot-button topic for both residents and politicians in Hong Kong. With more than seven million people and about 690 people per square Kilometer, space in this city goes at a premium. But recently, a housing event took place that shocked even the people of Hong Kong— “space capsule” homes.
BBC news reported that ten units are available in the western Sai Ying Pun district. Each of them are 24 square feet of space and are being rented for $685 (HK$5,100) per month. Take a second to let that sink in. OK. But in defense of the landlord, each unit is advertised as coming with a television, air-conditioning and a memory foam mattress—which is more than many New Yorkers can boast. The ten residents apparently share a kitchen and a toilet and the landlord says the “space capsules” are made of fire-resistant materials.
The landlord, a certain Ms. Wang said that the spaces also have special lights that “create the feeling of being in space”. The BBC contacted the husband of Ms. Wang, Mr. Wang, who added that they are only subletting the “space capsules”, not seeking big profits but merely wanting to share the rent with others. Mr. Wang put the BBC at ease by saying, “The building department states that no registration is required of fewer than 12 people live in the same flat.”
Despite the consideration of the landlords, many Hong Kongers are up in arms over the tiny spaces, saying that to glorify inhuman living conditions is tantamount to living in cages. Hong Kong is no stranger to squalid living conditions but one Facebook user said, “This is not a space capsule. This is sleeping in a coffin before your death.” From the images, this seems an accurate description.
One can see these capsules as either a novelty or a sign of troubled times. But either way, it helps to bring attention to Hong Kong’s notorious housing shortage. While some in New York consider living in an outrageously small apartment at some point in their lives as a badge of honor, can we be certain that we won’t end up in a similar dilemma?
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