Life in the Cells
KUNG Alvin, CHEUNG Suanne
By 2018, around half of the Hong Kong residents are living in a space similar to a standard carparking space - 12.5 sq.m. The mean per capita living space across the whole of Hong Kong is 15 sq.m. in 2017, whilst the average subdivided unit size is 6.3 sq.m. two years ago and as low as 4.5 sq.m. in 2017, even smaller than an average per capita prison cell of 4.6 sq.m. in H.K. At the same time, a new category of communal space is trending, from the post-war tenement house of having none within the architecture, to the now norm of having private communal space such as clubhouse, gardens etc. inside all new private-sector residential developments. Life in the Cells becomes a microcosm within the tight control set up by the curator, as a chronicle to capsulate the on-going strive to create humane freespace inside the rigid land parcel assigned by urban planning constraints, whilst keeping up with an increasingly demanding density, a very Hong Kong struggle. Even though, given our extraordinary flat sizes ranging from 5 to 15 sq.m., as mentioned earlier, this installation proposes a residential typology with both internal and external atrium that is able to provide light, view and ventilation, as a means to counter-act the claustrophobic effect of a super compact living environment. As an antithesis to the efficient, cost-effective and large yet monotonous apartments, housing units here vary with identity. To the communal realm, sufficient, quality open spaces are placed on each floor. In Life in the Cells, one can see the per capita ‘freespace’ for an individual is evolving from more privatized space on lower floors to a high percentage of semi-private shared space at the topmost storey, thereby reducing overall living space density even with the average per capita private space unchanged. A modern clan is ready to be formed under such spatial suggestion from the freespace, as an antidote to the crowded yet lonesome urban life.