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In the UK we often hear about how difficult it is for young people to break into the property market. While big cities attract us with promises of work opportunities, many find themselves struggling to find affordable accommodation.

Several potential solutions have been floated out there, with one of the most successful being ‘micro homes’. These tiny dwellings supposedly offer everything a resident could need in a remarkably small package, with some measuring no larger than a car parking space!

Still, if space is limited here it is downright rare in Hong Kong. One of the world’s most densely packed cities, it boasted a population of 6,690 people per square kilometer in 2014. This, coupled with a startling lack of affordable housing, has forced thousands of people into tiny dilapidated ‘coffin homes’, a cross between studio flats and battery cages.

Hong Kong architect James Law has volunteered a potential solution in the form of the ‘OPod Tube Housing’ system. These micro homes are created using repurposed concrete tubes and, according to the designer, can be installed almost anywhere with minimal costs, including in between existing buildings.

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His company wrote: ‘The OPod Tube House, conceived by James Law Cybertecture, is an experimental low cost, micro-living housing unit constructed out of a 2.5 meters diameter concrete water pipe.

‘The design ultilizes a strong concrete structure to house an apartment for one or two persons with living, cooking and bathroom inside 100 square feet (9.29 square meters).

‘Each tube house is equipped with smartphone locks for online access and space saving micro- living furniture. They can be stacked to become a low-rise building as a modular community in a very short time, and can be located and relocated in different sites conveniently.’

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While such homes would not be anyone’s first choice (the ‘cooking’ mentioned appears to consist of a microwave and not much else), Mr Law stressed that his idea is a practical one. According to The South China Morning Post, OPod units would each cost around $15,000 (£10,885), which is alarmingly close to the average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment outside Hong Kong city centre.

That said, micro homes like this often come with one particularly off-putting catch. Unfortunately, they simply do not increase in value at anything resembling the same rate as a standard-sized home. In other words, you could not expect a micro home to offer you much help in reaching the next rung on the property ladder - you could actually be stuck with it for quite some time.

To be fair to James Law Cybertecture, the OPods at least appear to be good quality, which cannot be said for many alternatives (both in Hong Kong and the UK). If such homes are built to a high standard and offer everything a person could need for day-to-day living, could they eventually be considered for western cities?

Photo credit: James Law Cybertecture

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