Living in the Tube

How James Law from Hong Kong converts concrete water pipes into modular dwellings to mitigate the housing shortage and homelessness.
by Markus Hieke | 7/1/2019

Why live in your own four walls, when a single wall can also do the trick? Strictly speaking that is all the “OPod Tube Houses” by James Law provide. Living comfortably alone or as a couple in a space of 9.3 square meters is something the architect from Hong Kong claims is possible. He equips his tube houses with a bench that doubles as a bed, a small desk, shelves, air conditioning and a tiny kitchenette and bathroom in a separate tube unit. Though the micro home might look very spartan it does provide the basic essentials. Each of the cylindrical elements has a diameter of two-and-a-half meters and its open ends are closed with windows or a glass door. If needed, several modules can be stacked on top of each other to form a community.

James Law established his “Cybertecture” office in 2001 – as he was intent on addressing social deprivation with the help of design and architecture experiments. Himself from a poor background he was the first member of his family to be able to enjoy further education. He studied Architecture at Bartlett School of Architecture in London, and later learned on the job by working for Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa in Tokyo. His habitations fashioned from converted concrete water pipes take up the familiar theme of the capsule hotel, where accommodation is also provided on the tiniest of spaces. Depending on the urban situation “OPods” can be deployed quickly and inexpensively in order to fill gaps – say below bridges or between buildings. “I dream of providing a home for a billion homeless people,” says the architect. Currently, he is hoping for building permission from the authorities of his home town. This modular solution brings him that bit closer to fulfilling the dream of affordable housing for everyone.