DOMAT community & architecture

DOMAT community & architecture

Hong Kong, HK


Home Modification for low-income families

SoCO’s ‘Home Modification’ programme aims at improving the living conditions of low-income families in Hong Kong. We are working towards making decent study areas for children at home, helping them to perform better at school so that the family can escape a cycle of poverty.

The homes of the families are small and crowded. In some cases a family of four or five will live in a room of 100 square-feet. Due to their poverty, many families have a habit of collecting material in the fear that they cannot afford things in the future, making the lack of space even worse. Although the families find ingenious ways to make their homes liveable by changing the use of a space throughout the day, this can be disruptive when the children are studying.

It might sound counter-intuitive to add more stuff to a cramped house, but we decided that by building furniture, we could help the families to organise their space better. Many of the families live in subdivided homes in old tenement buildings with high ceilings. We saw potential to use this upper space in order to free up the lower living area, and create dedicated study spaces for the children.

Most families are living in transition, waiting to be allocated public housing, and moving from house to house in the meantime. Some approaches to improving living conditions, such as renovating run-down houses, or giving housing subsidies, risk the adverse effect of landlords increasing their rents, causing the low-income families to suffer more. We wished to avoid a situation where the landlord ends up benefiting from the scheme more than the family. By providing furniture that the family can take with them, we hope that the benefit of the programme can remain with them.

The furniture itself is a simple, standardised design made from blockwood. The families can reassemble it when moving to a new house and it is durable enough to survive several years. The simple construction means that it can be adapted in the future if the needs of the family change. It is produced by a local contractor who can make it repeatedly and therefore at lower cost; by avoiding buying from a large furniture store there is potential to support the local economy.

To date, we have completed 4 cases. We have been working with architecture students from CUHK, who, as part of an elective course with Professor Maggie Hui, have helped us in implementing some of the cases. The project is still evolving, and while there are no catch-all solutions, we hope that the project can develop and have a wide, positive impact.



Project Details

Project Name:                    Home modification for Low-income Families

Location:                             Shum Shui Po, Hong Kong

Architect:                             DOMAT community & architecture

Team:                                    Angela Lui, Anson Wan, Bobby Lam, Echo Xiang, James Palmer, Jonas Tang, Justin Chan, Luka Ng, Maggie Ma, Mark Kingsley, Michael Chan, Natalie Yau, Rosa Chan

Initiating Organization:     Society of Community Organization (SoCO)

Donor:                                   South China Morning Post (SCMP)

Supporting Donor:             Agnes b, Sino Group

Supporting Organization:         CLP Group

Project Date:                       March 2013- ongoing

Project Scale:                     Approx. 100 families

Project Cost:                       Approx. HK$10,000 per family

Contact:                               [email protected]

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Status: Under Construction
Location: Shum Shui Po, Hong Kong