First there was co-working, now there's co-living. Perspective visits the latest addition to co-living in Hong Kong
In my way to visit a new co-living concept in Prince Edward, I'm hit with a strong feeling of déjà vu. Less than a year ago, between apartments, I stayed on this very street in a budget hotel with low ceilings, a murky atmosphere and cheap rates. Drawing closer, I realise it's not just the same street, but the same building.
Occupying the former hotel is Weave Co-living, a communal home that opened in July. Inside, however, things no longer feel familiar. The ceilings are higher, the space feels larger and what was once a dark lobby is now a funky, open space, flooded with light from new floor-to-ceiling windows. Known as the Living Room, it is scattered with board games, a ping-pong table, floor cushions, comfortable chairs and plenty of space to kick back.
The design concept reflects Weave's values: to bring convenience and comfort and inspire collaboration and community
Fully renovated and reimagined by Hong Kong studio Design Eight Five Two, or DEFT, the design deconstructs the traditional elements of a home, so the entire building acts as the residents' living space while their bedrooms are private.
"[Our team] has a hospitality and owner-operator background [which helped us] to realise this co-living concept, so young people have an alternative way to live in Hong Kong," says Weave's head of real-estate investment, Simon Chow.
The design concept reflects Weave's values: to bring convenience and comfort and inspire collaboration and community. There is a communal living room, kitchen, lounge, gym and breakfast bar on each residential floor, or on amenity floors. Each bedroom has its own bathroom; quad rooms share two bathrooms between four tenants.
"[The owner] brought us on pretty early, right when they got the property," says DEFT's co-founding partner, Peter Colin Lampard. "Each room is different and the floor plan was very, very tricky. For the most part we wanted to open up everything. The column grid was also a bit wonky, so we had to get creative with how we aligned things."
DEFT created custom-made, adaptable furniture to fit seamlessly into the irregular room sizes and layouts, and collaborated with furniture brand Ziinlife for additional modern furniture pieces. "The idea was to keep everything neutral in terms of the backdrop," Lampard says. "We have white plaster walls, a concrete floor, and we let the furniture, accessories and the lights do the talking in terms of pops of colour."
Co-living in Hong Kong is by no means a new concept. For the most part, the term is synonymous with student dormitories and shared apartments. Recently, however, Hong Kong has seen a rise in a new style of co-living concept targeting young professionals and those looking for an alternative living situation and more value for money. At another co-living space, Campfire Home, in Sham Shui Po, users not only get accommodation and an instant community, but also access to the Campfire group's five collaborative work spaces across Hong Kong.
Another new brand of alternative co-living spaces is Mojo Nomad. Just like Weave, Mojo Nomad locations are housed in converted hotels, in this case properties previously operated by sister brand Ovolo Hotels. Mojo
Nomad offers what it calls 'homstel living', bringing together hotel, home and hostel and centred around community and the use of shared spaces and facilities to create a more convenient and fulfilling lifestyle. Mojo Nomad currently operates one location in Aberdeen with another soon to open on Queen's Road Central.
Right at the heart of the action in Tsim Sha Tsui is The Nate. While not exactly a co-living space, the concept is similar, with private en-suite serviced studio apartments where residents can relax, and a shared kitchen, lounge and dining area on a communal floor.
While it still remains to be seen whether co-living will take off in Hong Kong, it seems to be getting off to a flying start. Even before it opened, Weave had more applications than it has rooms. Given this level of demand, it could be just a matter of time until co-living becomes as popular as co-working spaces.