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Because of These Tiny Tube Homes, Affordable Housing May No Longer Be a Pipe Dream

updated Apr 30, 2019
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We’ve seen our fair share of eclectic living spaces, but Hong Kong is home to perhaps one of the most non-traditional dwellings ever, which prove that pipe dreams are actually more attainable than we think.

Architect James Law creatively capitalized on the use of space by designing the OPod, a low-cost, experimental concrete tube housing unit. Resembling a cylindrical version of Tokyo’s capsule sleep pod, the repurposed concrete water pipes measure a little over eight feet in diameter and are built to accommodate one or two people. Each pod is outfitted with standard amenities, including a bench that converts into a bed, a mini-fridge, a bathroom, a shower and open shelving.

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The intention behind the OPod is to help alleviate Hong Kong’s ongoing affordable housing issue, while making good use of unconventional spaces. For instance, the pipes-turned-pad can be positioned in alleyways or if necessary, stacked on top of other structures.

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

While the OPods are beyond bulky – they weigh in at a hefty 22 tons apiece – the sturdy structures don’t require bolts or brackets and can be easily secured to one another, which drastically reduces installation costs. A visualization of a set of stacked OPods securely wedged between two buildings shows how these living spaces could transform urban areas should they go from being part of an experimental project to legal housing options.

Living in an old water pipe may not exactly sound like the wave of the future, but for people who live in cities that face overcrowding and steadily rising housing prices, Law’s creation might literally be right up their alley.