Saturday, 20 August 2011

Picture of the Day: Queen's Cube

Queen's Cube on Wan Chai's Queen's Road East
Last year Nan Fung Group and the Urban Renewal Authority got into hot water with the public when they tried to gentrify the Wan Chai neighbourhood with Queen's Cube.

Marketed with the tagline "Orchestrating a beautiful life", the skinny building on Queen's Road East was aimed at young professionals who wanted to enter the property market at an astonishing HK$6 million for 400 square feet.

How is that remotely affordable?

The media reported on how tiny these places were -- as long as you had the wardrobe of a monk and didn't cook much you would be OK living there. Oh yes and you could have a 275 square foot balcony too, as if that was useful.

As a result only two of the 96 flats were sold at the launch -- one of the worst responses in recent years.

There was criticism that the URA didn't ask the developer to lower the prices because apparently it can't do that according to market rules. Then why team up in the first place? When a government body and a developer get together on a project, one would assume they would be providing more affordable housing.

It's just another example of the government having a cozy relationship with developers.

A group of university students decided to mock the insane property situation in Hong Kong with a six-minute video called King's Cube.

It shows young upwardly mobile professionals dressed in suits coming home from work and entering their stylish homes -- where there is only enough room for a single bed.

They were demonstrating how tiny subdivided flats are in Sham Shui Po and the language used to market real estate.

"With the project, I'm concerned about the living environment in Hong Kong, particularly about what we consider to be an ideal home environment," explained Joe Yiu, a Chinese University IT graduate.

"It's like a dream," she said, as few marketing materials live up to their claims and most property agents exaggerate features and the actual living environment.

"They are telling you what stylish living is, but the reality is opposite to that."

When will the government realize we want to be able to buy a flat at a reasonable price? We can't be indentured slaves to property developers and live on instant noodles forever...

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