These Proposed Concrete Pipe Homes Could Ease the Housing Shortage in Hong Kong

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For many young people in Hong Kong, where space is limited and rent continues to soar, moving out of their parents’ home and into their own apartment remains a pipe dream. But Hong Kong-based architect James Law has his own pipe dream—and it could bring some much-needed affordable housing to the city of 7.3 million.

As spotted by Dezeen, a concept by the architecture firm James Law Cybertecture outlines a plan to construct micro homes out of concrete water pipes. The individual pipe homes could be stacked on top of each other and squeezed into narrow, unused spaces between city buildings.

"OPod Tube Housing is an experimental, low-cost, micro-living housing unit to ease Hong Kong's affordable housing problems," James Law told Dezeen.

Although it's still a concept, an “OPod Tube Housing” prototype built by the firm is homier than you would expect. The tubular-shaped home contains all the basic necessities for cooking, bathing, and sleeping. A bench seat can be converted into a bed, and there’s room for a mini fridge, microwave, suitcase stand, and clothing rack. The glazed door also doubles as a window, and lighting strips and a retractable lamp are also built into the homes.

Hong Kong is one of the most expensive places to live on Earth, and the average resident’s apartment takes up about 150 square feet of space, according to Quartz. Another company in Hong Kong, called Markbox, has been converting shipping containers into micro apartments.

Check out Quartz’s video below to learn more about the OPod Tube Housing design.

[h/t Dezeen]

Trulia Now Makes Browsing Neighborhoods as Easy as Browsing Homes

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An online real estate listing can tell you the number of bedrooms, the square footage, and the price of a property, but until you arrive in person, it's hard to know if the location will be a good fit for you. Trulia is looking to tackle that problem with a new Neighborhoods feature, as Fast Company reports, letting you virtually explore your potential home's surroundings before you show up for the tour.

Trulia, a listings site owned by Zillow, already offers all the standard information you would get from any other real estate service. Now, the new Trulia Neighborhoods feature also makes it possible to research various neighborhoods within the app the same way you would research individual houses and apartments.

The Neighborhoods feature includes a slideshow of annotated images of each neighborhood captured by Trulia's team of photographers and videographers. It also has some objective data about the area, like maps of local businesses, as well as first-hand reports from residents. In the "What the Locals Say" section, for instance, you might find that 90 percent of people reported that a neighborhood is quiet, while just 50 percent said it's easy to find parking there. This part also includes personal testimonies from individual users that you can browse by topic, such as "community" or "dog owners." Neighborhoods also allows you to easily access data on schools, safety, and commute times.

Trulia Neighborhoods isn't available for every market yet. For now, you can only take advantage of it if you're house-hunting in one of 300 neighborhoods across five U.S. cities—San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Austin, and Chicago. Trulia plans to expand the feature to more than 1100 neighborhoods by the end of 2018.

[h/t Fast Company]

Hong Kong's Peculiar Architecture Can Be Explained by Feng Shui

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Most people are familiar with feng shui—the ancient Chinese art of arranging one's environment to maximize good energy—as it applies to interior design. But you don't need to walk into a building to see feng shui at work in Hong Kong: It's baked into the skyline.

This video from Vox examines how feng shui has shaped the design of Hong Kong's skyscrapers. Some of the most extreme examples are dragon gates: large holes cut out of the center of buildings. The idea is that dragons, which are said to live in the mountains behind the city, will be able to fly through the openings and into the water. If their passage is blocked, bad luck will befall any buildings in their way.

Some superstitious design features are a little more subtle. In the lobby of the HSBC building, the escalators are positioned at a strange angle to fend off the bad energy flowing into the space. When Hong Kong Disneyland hired a feng shui consultant (a real and lucrative job), they were told to shift the entrance 12 degrees to keep chi from flowing out.

But not every architect in Hong Kong takes feng shui into account. The Bank of China Tower is infamous for its sharp angles, which feng shui experts claim damages the positive energy around it. Anything bad that happens to the surrounding businesses is immediately blamed on the tower, and the neighboring HSBC building even installed cranes that are meant to combat any bad luck it radiates.

You can watch the full story below.

[h/t Vox]

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