Science Park and HKU in line for modular homes first

Top News | Sum Lok-kei 22 Sep 2017

Science Park and the University of Hong Kong could be the first to build modular housing in the city, the development chief says.

This comes in the wake of the Hong Kong Council for Social Service's announcement that it is looking into the feasibility of building container homes for grassroots families.

Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said the "InnoCell" project will employ modular construction technology to provide housing for the park's young staff.

Construction of an 18-story building, which will provide amenities such as a gym and multifunction rooms, is expected to be completed by 2020.

The other project, to be built at HKU in Pok Fu Lam, may include student halls, he said.

Wong, who last month visited a mainland factory that produces modular housing components, said the SAR government is eager to import the technology.

With the building method considered to be safer and with the period of construction shorter, the local construction industry may find it an attractive alternative to the traditional manner of building houses, Wong said.

Non-governmental organizations are welcome to submit their proposals before the government kick-starts innovative and experimental housing projects, he said.

The Architectural Services Department will issue permits in a reasonably simple and speedy manner, Wong said.

"If civic groups wish to test these more innovative methods, the government should not eliminate these possibilities or be an obstacle," he said.

Though there are concerns over the stability and fire safety of modular housing, such issues can be resolved with the use of appropriate material, Wong said.

The Housing Department is already preparing guidelines and practice notes governing modular construction for the construction industry, he said.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said container flats and other innovative means of raising housing supply are worth considering, adding the government acts as a facilitator and listens to views expressed by the council and other professional groups.

"We need to carefully consider its feasibility, safety and the actual operation. The government's attitude is completely open," Cheung said. He said no timeline has yet been set for building container homes to Hong Kong.

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