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Asia Minute: Hong Kong’s Nano-flats

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Condominiums are selling faster than single family homes in several parts of the state. Real estate professionals say a lot of that has to do with price and size. But while some condos are getting smaller here, it’s nothing compared to what’s going on in Hong Kong. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The latest word in urban living in Hong Kong is nano. As in very small, like “nano-technology” or “nano-second.”

Nano’s technical meaning is one-billionth, but it’s got a less precise interpretation with real estate—still meaning very small.

Which brings us to “nano-flats” in Hong Kong, which would be known as nano-apartments, but this was a British colony for nearly a century, so they’re called nano-flats. The point is they’re tiny and increasingly popular.

According to government figures, more than a quarter of all apartments built in Hong Kong last year were smaller than 400 square feet.

The approach is big not only in the marketplace, but also in the design space.

Later this week, the International Design Furniture Fair Hong Kong will feature nano flats like one designed by architect William Lim.

His conceptual nano-flat squeezes two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room into less than two-hundred square feet.

The key to this design is stacking—the bedrooms go on top of the bathroom and the kitchen.

A recent winner in a contest by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects features a loft bedroom, a pantry, a bathroom and storage space – all in about 150 square feet.

Architect Lim told reporters his designs and others show that “tiny spaces don’t have to be void of character.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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