I made this page from my own research… in a similar way in which I made Singapore research one year ago. Page published first time in January 2011, updated in 2012 and 2013, next update: when I find new interesting things or someone ask me to add new stuff.
Explanation of Gross and Saleable floor areas
See also Excel database of public and private housing estates
Hong Kong Public Housing
Hong Kong Housing Authority was formed in 1954, soon after a major file in Shek Kip Mei left 53000 people homeless on christmas day of 1953.
The first public housing estate, Shek Kip Mei Estate was ready in 1954. The “flats” were just one room of 120 square feet, kitchen and bathrooms were communal, shared by all floor residents. Original plan was to allocate 24 square feet (2.2 square meters) per adult and half that for each child under 12. But due to the extreme shortage in available housing, a flat was shared by more than one family, 10-15 people per room were common in its first years, and during summer months, people were sleeping also on corridors.
Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, built in early 1960s, was in the first group of estates built with lifts. All blocks were 16-floor high, elevators were stopping at ground, 8th and 13th floors.
All were resettlement estates (temporary housing).
In 1961 the “low-cost housing” scheme was introduced through the construction of 62380 flats in 18 public housing estates.
In 1963 the minimum area per person was increased to 35 sq ft (3.3 sq m).
In 1973 the government announced a ten-year plan for the public provision of housing, to provide everyone in Hong Kong with permanent, self-contained housing with a target of housing for 1.8 million people. Developing started for New Towns, away from urban area. The program was later extended to 15 years.
In 1978 the government launched Home Ownership Scheme, some of them are designed with private architects, creating Private Sector Participation Scheme one year later, which offers a bigger diversity in designs.
In 1998 the government launched Tenants Purchase Scheme, it was targeted to help increase ownership ratio to 70% by 2006 by selling rental flats to tenants.
Due to worsening economic situation, and complaints from private developers about bad effects of HOS to their projects, construction of new HOS flats ended in 2003, also new launches of TPS were suspended.
Today the minimum area per person is 5.5 m² (does anyone know since when?), aka all rental units which do not meet this minimum are subject to relocation elsewhere as soon as new rental flats are available.
Housing Authority – floor plans of main block types
Floor plans are in PDF format so you need to have Adobe Reader installed.
Funny case: someone asking me to give him floor plans, saying that my website provide only numbers… probably he did not had Adobe Reader.
Point mouse on photos to see estate name!
Since late 2010, the Hong Kong Housing Authority website provides floor plans for most HOS and TPS estates, but requires a lot of searching through estates list to find floor plan of certain block type. So I decided to make here links to floor plans of most common block types. There is no way to find floor plans of PRH estates. In August 2012 a visitor told me that Housing Authority added floor plans for PRH standard blocks too here, no idea when they were added. The page of my website risk to become useless…
The block types refers more about apartments layout rather than block shape. For example, Concord blocks contains 47 sqm 3-room and 60 sqm 4-room, usually 8 apartments per floor in a + layout, but some blocks are shaped like Y and Z with 6 apartments per floor of same type, still being named Concord. Flat size specified is the Saleable area.
Old Slab block aka Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, Mark IV, etc, all PRH and TPS (1954-1984)
Floor plan Old Slab, variable units per floor, this one 25 sqm, 16 meters width (some blocks have bigger units).
This blogger chan88.blogspot.com have floor plans and photos of Mark blocks. I prefer to link his website than copying his images on my website.
Single / Twin Tower block, all PRH (1970-1983)
No floorplan (because all are rental and no TPS), flat area 33-40 sqm (internal floor area)
New Slab block, all PRH and TPS (1977-1991)
Floor plan New Slab, variable units per floor, all 32 sqm, 17 meters width.
Floor plan New Slab, another version which have some units small as 12 sqm.
Some Slab blocks are 12 meters width and some 19 meters width. What type are these!?
Single / Double H block, all PRH and TPS (1977-1986)
Floor plan Double H, flat area 29-65 sqm.
Single / Double / Triple I block, all PRH (1980-1983)
A kind of zig-zag shape. No floor plan available (because all are rental and no TPS), flat area 33-40 sqm (internal floor area)
Trident block, PRH, TPS and HOS (1979-1992)
Floor plan Trident 1, 36 units per floor, flat area 27 sqm.
Floor plan Trident 2, 24 units per floor, flat area 35-45 sqm.
Floor plan Trident 3, 24 units per floor, flat area 35-49 sqm.
Floor plan Trident 3 variation, 32 units per floor, some small as 14 sqm.
Floor plan Trident 4, 18 units per floor, flat area 34-55 sqm.
Linear block, all PRH and TPS (1979-1991)
Floor plan Linear 1, flat area 13.5-53 sqm.
Flexi block, all HOS (1981-1991)
Floor plan Flexi 1, 8 units per floor, size 30×25 m, flat area 37-52 sqm.
Floor plan Flexi 2, 8 units per floor, size 30×25 m, flat area 40-44 sqm.
Floor plan Flexi 3, 8 units per floor, size 30×25 m, flat area 43-46 sqm.
Slab block, one single block, HOS (1984)
Floor plan Slab, different from Old Slab and New Slab. 3-bedroom, flat area probably around 42 sqm.
Windwill block, all HOS (1984-1986)
Floor plan Windwill, 16 units per floor, size 43×40 m, flat area 31-38 sqm.
New Cruciform Block, all HOS except some recent ones (1986-present)
Floor plan New Cruciform, 10 units per floor, size 42×35 m, flat area 3-room 37 sqm, 4-room 51 sqm, 4-room 59 sqm.
Harmony block, PRH and HOS (1993-present) (rental Harmony block were built since 1970s!)
Floor plan Harmony 1, 4 wings and 16 units per floor, size 53×48 m, flat types: 2-room 40 sqm, 3-room 50 sqm, 4-room 55-60 sqm.
Floor plan Harmony 1 variation, 4 wings and 20 units per floor, size 53×48 m, flat types: studio 19 sqm, 2-room 40 sqm, 3-room 50 sqm, 4-room 55 sqm.
Floor plan Harmony 2, 3 wings and 18 units per floor.
Floor plan Harmony 3, the T-shaped one with 14 units per floor.
Concord block, all HOS except some recent ones (2000-present)
Floor plan Concord 1, cross-shaped, 8 units per floor, size: 39×34 m, flat types: 3-room 47 sqm, 4-room 60 sqm.
Floor plan Concord 2, Z-shaped, 6 units per floor, size: 33×22 m. flat types: 3-room 47 sqm.
New Harmony block, all PRH (2003-present)
No floor plan available (because all are rental), 16 units per floor, flat types ?
New Flexi block, all PRH (only 2 blocks built in 2006)
No floor plan available (because all are rental), 12 units per floor, flat types ?
Small Household Blocks, different types, 1975-present)
No floor plan available, these mysterious blocks are found in both PRH and HOS estates and contains small flats probably for elderly, given based by other rules.
Non-standard blocks (any block with no given name)
One example of non-standard block with 12 units per floor, split-level, flat types: 3-4 rooms 38-57 sqm.
Private Sector Participation Scheme (different types, 1981-2001)
Floor plan of most common type of PSPS blocks (75% of PSPS estates are using this layout with 10 units per floor, just small dimension differences), size 38×29 m, flat types: 3-room 40 sqm, 3-room 45 sqm, 4-room 55 sqm.
Harmony blocks provides the biggest apartments for their number of rooms. Which is the best apartment in Hong Kong?… hmm, probably the 59 sqm one from New Cruciform and the 60 sqm one from Concord.
Hong Kong Housing Society was formed in 1948. The first rental estate, Sheung Li Uk, was built in 1952. Clague Garden Estate built in 1989 was the first Flat-For-Sale estate. Tivoli Garden built in 1995 was the first Sandwich Class Housing Scheme estate (public housing for middle-class priced like private housing).
No floor plan is published on their official website. Centadata contains floor plans of some of the ownership estates.
Hong Kong Private Housing
Private housing include tenement buildings, stand-alone buildings, private housing estates, villas and village houses.
Looking for private housing floor plans? Look on centadata.com, it shows floorplans of almost all estates, also gohome.com.hk shows floorplans of most estates as well as villas. Note that in Hong Kong the term “condominium” is never used, do not search “hong kong condo floor plan” because you will find nothing relevant.
Tenements are up to 8 floors + ground (maximum allowed height without lifts), typically 10 to 14 meters wide and with 2 apartments per floor, having view in both sides. Most tenements have large cantilevered balconies that extend 2 meters over sidewalk. Apartments were large and since 1960s many of them were subdivided illegally and rented to poor families, on facade there are a lot of objects added that makes them to look dirty, on rooftops are huts and additional dwelling units. Mong Kok district have lowest household income and highest ratio of elderly people, and yes it is dominated by tenements, being considered one of the ugliest neighborhoods in the world.
This user have large collection of photos of tenement buildings.
Private housing built since 1960s have a podium that serve also as commercial space at ground floor, covering entire plot area, and residential towers above it. Low-end blocks had central double-loaded corridor (example: these 8 blocks around Man Cheong Street, Kowloon, but most common is the cruciform typology. Balconies are no longer common in private housing estates as they were in tenements, except to high-end developments, bay windows became common since 1980. Balconies became again common during 2000, but they are usually small as 2 sqm.
My attention was attracted by the area around Yuet Wah Street, there are 33 gated developments, 4407 apartments (counted from Centadata) built in 1962-1970, all them being 12-storey tall plus void deck at ground floor for parking. Looks like that this area was a luxury neighborhood for 1960s standards, well-renovated and still beautiful!
Mei Foo Sun Chuen was the first “Private Housing Estate” and largest private development in the world at its time, currently it is still the largest housing estate in Hong Kong, having 99 blocks with 5 to 8 units per floor (2 blocks are extended to 12 units per floor), total 13149 apartments from 2-bedroom to 4-bedroom, was built in phases from 1969 to 1978.
Tai Koo Shing, 61 blocks, 12693 apartments, built 1978-1987
City One Shatin, 52 blocks, 10642 apartments, built 1981-1988
Whampoa Garden, 88 blocks, 10440 apartments, built 1986-1991, famous for HMS Whampoa ship-shaped shopping center.
South Horizons, 34 blocks, 9812 apartments, built 1991-1995
Kingswood Villas, 58 blocks, 15836 apartments, built 1992-1997, but is usually considered 7 separate estates, as there are roads dividing the development.
LOHAS Park will be the biggest private estate, first phase opened in 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in 2015, having 21500 units.
Built year and number of units sourced from Centadata.
There is some doubt which developments can be called estates, since numerous other developments containing more than one block were built before 1969 and are not considered “estates”.
Typical private flats are slightly smaller than public housing in similar period.
Accurate statistics are impossible to be made, since Hong Kong real estate is very diverse, in the same district same developer built in same decade multiple estates with very different apartment sizes. Transactions listings do not show size of flats built before 1980 (why?), but apparently 1960s flats are larger than 1980s which seems to be the smallest.
1980s typical sizes were 3-room 30-35 sqm (dominant) and 4-room 45-55 sqm.
2000s typical sizes are 3-room 40-45 sqm, 4-room 55-65 sqm (dominant), and some 5-room appeared.
At this moment I cannot estimate the 2000s and 2010s trends, if the flat sizes grow or shrink.
The units facing to sea or other good landscape, are sometimes larger, even if using apparently same apartment layout.
Of course there are numerous luxury apartments, much larger than typical flats, commonly in blocks with 2 to 4 units per floor. These nearly always are 4-room and 5-room, not matters if are 100 sqm or 500 sqm penthouses, the room sizes vary very much.
1960s-1970s private housing estates
1980s private housing estates
2000s private housing estates
Cruciform blocks – smallest & largest
One of most common private block types is the cruciform with 8 units per floor, it have the biggest efficiency, the block size vary, most blocks ranging from 20×20 meters to 32×28 meters. Some may have 6, 10 or 12 apartments per floor.
Garden Rivera (1984) is my favorite example of the thinnest cruciform blocks. Block size 20 by 19 meters, 3012 sq ft in total / 280 sqm. 8 flats per floor, all 3-room, 368-385 sq ft gross area / probably around 242-269 sq ft saleable area (23-25 sqm). It contains some of the SMALLEST 3-room apartments in the world! See Garden Rivera floorplan and interior photos. Interior video.
Later I found numerous other blocks having similar or even smaller size, but some may not contains only 3-room apartments. Examples:
Hang Shun Building (unknown year), block size 20 by 17 meters, flat size 313-323 sq ft gross, all 3-room, see Hang Shun floorplan.
Smithfield Terrace (1986), block size 19 by 18 meters, flat size 252-377 sq ft gross, 2-room and 3-room, see Smithfield Terrace floorplan.
Fortune Court (1985), block size 18 by 17 meters, flat size 282-325 sq ft gross, see Fortune Court floorplan.
Full Wing Building (1984) beat all others, block size only 18 by 16 meters, flat size 263-329 sq ft gross area. No floorplan exists, just interior photos.
Green Leaves Garden (1987), another remarkable thin cruciform blocks with 8 units per floor, 24 by 20 meters, contains the SMALLEST 4-room apartments found so far, 510 sq ft gross area / 435 sq ft saleable area (40.5 sqm). Floorplan and photos.
Largest examples of cruciform blocks:
Parkside Villa (1997), 38 by 36 meters. See Parkside Villa floorplan and photos.
The Belcher’s (2000), largest cruciform block with 8 units per floor, up to 46 by 46 meters. See Floorplans and photos.
Uncommon blocks, crazy buildings and curiosities
The Merton website (now dead) showed a floorplan with all internal dimensions, SEE YOURSELF how small apartments are in Hong Kong, calculate yourself the net area (if you are lazy, it is 33 sqm for 3-room). Floor plan for entire block: Tower 1 and Tower 2.
The Harbourside, contains one of the smallest NEW apartments in Hong Kong. 241 sq ft gross area. What is the net area? What you can fit in it? Guess yourself… The Harbourside floorplan.
Yuppie Tel (1991), huge stairwell and 2 tiny apartments per floor (145 sq ft saleable), floorplan.
Pik Wah Building (1964), old and tiny apartments, 180 sq ft gross, 130 sq ft saleable, photos (if any unit is currently available for sale).
One Prestige (2018), new tiny apartments, smallest being 163 sq ft net, floorplan.
Hong Kong also contains numerous buildings with one apartment per floor. Do not think that all are luxury apartments. Someone owned a 8-meter wide piece of land and decided to built a skyscraper on it! Since even for a single apartment, you need a staircase with 2 access points, the staircase may be occupying half of block floor area! Examples:
Seng Fai Building (1997), 552 sq ft gross, see SengFai floorplan.
Profit Nice Mansion (1999), 333 sq ft gross / 222 sq ft saleable, no floorplan found.
But Fullic Court (1995) is the absolute crazyness of narrow building! 360 sq ft gross, 197 sq ft saleable… you MUST SEE the Fullic Court floorplan!!
Do you know more buildings with one apartment per floor? Share with us! Leave a comment! I want to make a collection of floorplans of narrow tall buildings.
Hong Kong aerial and panoramic views
Enjoy breathtaking panoramas over Hong Kong towers!
Selection of photos found via Google Earth on Panoramio in 2011. More photos to be added… when I have time to dig for more photos (maybe next year, let’s wait until more people add photos on Panoramio).
Hong Kong Island
Tuen Mun New Town
Tai Po New Town
Tseun Wan New Town
Shatin New Town
Districts: Central & Western, Wan Chai, Eastern, Southern, Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Wong Tai Sin, Kwun Tong, Kwai Chung & Tsing Yi, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, North, Tai Po, Shatin, Sai Kung & Tseung Kwan O, Islands, Marine
Gross floor area, Saleable floor area, and efficiency explained
Internal floor area is the room space between face of walls.
Saleable floor area includes full thickness of external walls, half thickness of walls shared with other units, internal walls, as well as balconies, but excludes bay windows.
Gross floor area also include a sharepart of common areas (lifts, staircases, corridors) so it should not been taken in serious.
The efficiency (Saleable floor area) is usually 75-85% of Gross floor area, higher value for the blocks with bigger apartments and for low-rise blocks, since the common area of a blocks with a given number of units per floor is approximately same for regardless of apartments size.
More details about what is gross floor area and efficiency here and here.
Apartment buyers are probably interested in Internal floor area, it is even smaller, the percentage of this from Saleable area varies much, as newer and taller buildings require thicker walls, take a look how thick are the walls of The Masterpiece. Higher floors may have thinner walls so larger rooms.
BEWARE… most, if not all private developers, as well as all real estate websites, publish Gross floor area as primary value of apartment size, confusing people. An estate may have a single apartment type (all apartments with same saleable floor area) but different gross floor areas because some blocks have fewer apartments per floor and the common area had to be divided by fewer apartments.
We cannot make a law to force developers to quote the Saleable floor area and put an END of this annoying confusion????
Why are Hong Kong apartments small?
One possible explanation: original Hong Kong was about 100 square kilometers, including the Hong Kong island and the tip of Kowloon Peninsula south of Boundary Street, comprising mostly mountainous terrain, until the 950 square kilometers of New Territories was leased, despite that this lease happened in 1898, people keep concentrating in the original area. Most of New Territories was (and some still are) rural, only the nearby area north of Boundary street was urbanized and became New Kowloon. The “New Towns” built beyond mountains, spaced away from original city, appeared only since 1970s.
Another explanation: traditionally old Hong Kong apartments had just one room for all, living, dining, sleeping, completed by a small kitchen and a small bathroom. Bedrooms appeared later, they are not used for other purpose than sleeping, so they can be small as 4 sqm, saving apartment area for having a large living room. Most older public housing floor plans don’t show other internal walls than the kitchen and bathroom ones. I guess that were sold without internal walls and owners who like to have separate bedrooms, had to built themselves? However all apartments were designed with a pre-designated number of bedrooms.
OK… now they have plenty of flat land in New Territories, why they KEEP building tiny apartments? Is this a fashion? conservative chinese, corrupt government or mafia of private developers?
Cost of construction includes land acquisition, lift, fittings, common areas, etc. these are more expensive than walls and floor slabs. I don’t think that a 25% increase in apartment size would raise cost of construction with more than 5%. I noticed many private estates with long and narrow apartments, big spaces between buildings, they could have designed slightly bigger apartments without any increase in block length or reduce the number of apartments in estate.
According my research, today apartment sizes grown about 20% since 1980s (I need more research to see today trends), but grown not enough, Hong Kong STILL holds the record of smallest average apartment size in the world.
However, I ask for explanations from someone that lived in Hong Kong for many years!
ANSWER (thanks to EL left comments below): each piece of land is sold with a max allowed gross floor area, but the number of apartments is not limited. The government do not release enough land to cope the demand for apartments, then most developers try to fit as many apartments as possible in the gross floor area. This is why most apartments are small, while the several big ones are sold at much bigger price per square feet.
The bay windows, if are at least 50 cm from floor and ceiling, and max 60 cm extrusion from outer wall face, are excluded from gross floor area. So since 1980 most developers provide extruded bay windows to create extra (but unusable) space in apartments, creating the nickname “Hong Kong – City of bay windows“.