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Four-year-old Vera Wong Zi-wei’s favourite possession isn’t the latest Disney princess doll, but her brand-new study desk that matches to the 200 sq ft subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po she calls home.

Wong’s desk, complete with a secret compartment on her stationery and toys, is really a rare commodity for families which are squeezed into cluttered, shoebox apartments.

“She employed to only be able to do homework on the folding table that must be put away constantly, however right now she can work and play in the same space. It’s the initial place she will go to when she gets home now,” Wong’s mother, Yan Nga-chi, said.

Coffin cubicles, caged homes and subdivisions … life inside Hong Kong’s grim low income housing

Wong, who lives along with her mother and grandmother, is just one of 70 low-income families which may have benefitted coming from a project that aims to change the liveable space of tiny flats with Furniture hk.

“Many grass-roots families don’t possess the extra revenue to spend on furniture. Instead, they’ll hoard a lot of second-hand furniture even when it’s not so practical because they don’t know if they’ll be capable of afford it down the road,” said social worker Angela Lui Yi-shan, who runs the project with human rights advocacy group Society for Community Organisation.

The HK$3 million home modification project, sponsored from the South China Morning Post since 2013, can offer up to 120 low-income families with custom-made furniture, for example desks, shelves and storage cupboards, plus give their home a mini-makeover by rearranging their living space.

Ahead of the modification, Yan’s apartment barely had any walking space when folding tables were set up for lunch or homework.

A three-seater sofa which also doubled as being a bed for Yan’s elderly mother had blocked half the corridor that led to the kitchen and bathroom.

A big desk with little space for storage took up a lot of the living area, even though the floor was cluttered with multiple plastic boxes piled along with each other.

Hong Kong’s poorest squeezed as rents for tiny subdivided flats rise at double rate for other homes

The group of architects rearranged existing furniture and designed the analysis desk and two new shelving units to fit Yan’s family room.

By utilising the high ceilings in old tenement houses, Yan’s family could use floor-to-ceiling storage instead of having storage boxes use up limited floor space.

Having an average four-year wait around for public housing and ever-increasing rents within the private sector, many residents who live beneath the poverty line have to tolerate cramped 47dexlpky squalid living problems that cover anything from cage homes to coffin cubicles.

Almost 200,000 people lived in certain 88,000 subdivided units in 2015, according to official figures.

The Society for Community Organisation’s project focuses on families with education needs, with the hope that providing a dedicated working space can help children focus better on their own studies and in the end give the family a chance to escape poverty.

“Most in the children we assist lie on the floor or bed to accomplish their homework, and it’s not beneficial to their own health or development, but this project may help change that,” Lui said.

DOMAT, the not-for-profit architecture firm that designs the Dining table Hong Kong, visits each family individually and makes things to suit the household along with the peculiar layouts caused by partitioned flats.

The furniture, built by way of a contractor in mainland China, is designed to be flexible thus it can remain with your family when it moves into another subdivided flat or public housing.

“Based on the daily habits, we percieve how our designs can match their needs. We should use furniture as being a tool to enhance their space, as opposed to just providing new furniture,” architect Maggie Ma said.

The company’s personal procedure for the project can be another key reason why the firm fails to like working with developers.

“What I realised [in building high rises] is the fact that so much of the procedure is controlled by market demand and what could pull in more cash,” Ma said.

“In an easy method, they sacrifice a little bit of the user’s needs, so we wanted to consider designs which are more humane. This project actually causes us to be understand much more about how people live and exactly what is most critical to them.”

Although she was made to move from her apartment into another subdivided flat following the installation, Yan said the brand new furniture had transformed her home.

“When you first of all transfer to a flat, you don’t really think excessive about the furniture. Everything was fine as long as we had space to place our things. The good news is, we are able to discover how practical bar stool HK might be and exactly how it can make an improved living quarters,” she said.

Ma’s partner and fellow architect Mark Kingsley said: “It’s not like those TV shows where you go to your house and they’ve totally transformed it into something completely different. The ambition of the project is far more modest – to produce small changes that may have a big influence on your family.”

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