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Four-year-old Vera Wong Zi-wei’s favourite possession isn’t the latest Disney princess doll, but her new study desk that suits in 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 a rare commodity for families that are squeezed into cluttered, shoebox apartments.

“She accustomed to only be capable of do homework on the folding table that had to be put away on a regular basis, however she will work and play in the same space. It’s the first place she goes toward 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 together mother and grandmother, is among 70 low-income families that have benefitted coming from a project that aims to transform the living space of tiny flats with Furniture Hong Kong.

“Many grass-roots families don’t get the extra money to invest on furniture. Instead, they’ll hoard a great deal of second-hand furniture even when it’s not practical because they don’t determine they’ll have the capacity to afford it later on,” 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 with the South China Morning Post since 2013, can provide approximately 120 low-income families with custom-made furniture, for example desks, shelves and storage cupboards, and also give their house a mini-makeover by rearranging their living area.

Before the modification, Yan’s apartment barely had any walking space when folding tables were create for dinner or homework.

A 3-seater sofa which also doubled being a bed for Yan’s elderly mother had blocked half the corridor that triggered the kitchen and bathroom.

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

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

The team of architects rearranged existing furniture and designed the research desk and 2 new shelving units to put Yan’s living area.

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

By having an average four-year await public housing and ever-increasing rents inside the private sector, many residents who live beneath the poverty line are forced 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, based on official figures.

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

“Most of the children we assist lie on a lawn or bed to do their homework, and it’s not beneficial to their health or development, but this project will 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 family and also the peculiar layouts resulting from partitioned flats.

The furniture, built by way of a contractor in mainland China, was designed to be flexible so it can remain with the family if this moves into another subdivided flat or public housing.

“Based on his or her daily habits, we percieve how our designs can match their demands. We would like to use furniture as being a tool to further improve their space, as opposed to just providing new furniture,” architect Maggie Ma said.

The company’s personal procedure for the project is another key good reason that the firm will not like utilizing developers.

“What I realised [in building high rises] is so much of the process is controlled by market demand and so what can generate additional money,” Ma said.

“In a method, they sacrifice a certain amount of the user’s needs, so that 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 significant in their mind.”

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

“When you first transfer to a flat, you don’t think an excessive amount of in regards to the furniture. Everything was fine provided that we had space to set our things. But now, we could discover how practical bar stool HK might be and just how it can make a greater liveable space,” she said.

Ma’s partner and fellow architect Mark Kingsley said: “It’s unlike those Shows where you get to the home and they’ve totally transformed it into something totally different. The ambition of your project is far more modest – to make small changes that can have a big affect on the household.”