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Hong Kong Startup Turns Concrete Water Pipes into Stylish Micro-Houses

The tiny house movement has taken off over the past decade as urban developers have had to find creative solutions to soaring property prices worldwide. James Law Cybertecture of Hong Kong has joined this trend with their newly released Opod Tube House, made from repurposed concrete pipe.

Hong Kong, one of the most populous cities on the planet, has been especially hard hit as home prices have shattered historical records for 12 straight months this past year. According to the Bangkok Post, an apartment sold this past November for HK 32,060 (USD 6,915) per square foot, making it the most expensive apartment per square foot in all of of Asia. This trend has forced over 200,000 people into tiny partitioned apartments, averaging no more than 62 square feet, and some are only able to afford individual caged beds. Government data shows a 9% increase in the number of households living in “inadequate housing,” including partitioned flats and industrial buildings.

Photo: James Law Cybertecture

Architect James Law of James Law Cybertecture saw this housing crisis as a creative opportunity to design an affordable home. Thus was born the Opod Tube House, a repurposed concrete pipe that measures just over eight feet in diameter. The tubes are designed to accommodate one or two people and offer 1000 square feet of living space. The interiors come equipped with all necessary amenities, many with stacked functions, such as a living room bench that converts into a bed. There is also a mini-fridge, a bathroom with a shower, and lots of storage for clothes and other personal effects.

The tubes weigh 22 tons apiece, but they require little effort regarding installation and are easily stacked and secured to each other, reducing overall installation costs. The pods are meant to take advantage of awkward urban spaces that would otherwise be left empty.

Photo: James Law Cybertecture

“Sometimes there’s some land left over between buildings which are rather narrow, so it’s not easy to build a new building. We could put some OPods in there and utilize that land,” Law said in an interview with Curbed.com.

Law envisions entire tube communities installed in alleyways, under bridges, and other such typically unutilized urban areas. The firm has not yet released the cost per pipe as of yet.

Photo: James Law Cybertecture

Non-governmental groups say that while pipes and other such solutions could provide a reprieve, they cannot be the long-term solution to the housing crisis.

“We welcome any possibilities to speed up the provision of temporary housing,” Lai Kin-kwok, convener of Platform Concerning Subdivided Flats in Hong Kong said to Bangkok Post. “But I want to stress these can only be short-term arrangements. Ultimately the government must speed up the construction of public housing.”