|Project||Skip Kip Mei|
|Architect||Hong Kong Housing Authority|
|Building Type||Slab, gallery access|
|Number of Dwellings||NA|
|Dwelling Types||1 room flats|
|concrete, metal windows|
|Construction Type||R-C frame|
|Ancillary Services||none, communal toilets|
Following the conclusion of W.W.II, there was an enormous influx of Chinese immigrants into Hong Kong, Between 1945 and 1950, the population increased from 600,000 to over two million. The existing housing stock of Hong Kong, mostly substandard, prewar tenements, was completely inadequate and the immigrants settled in squatter communities of flimsy huts in the paddy fields and on steep hillsides. On Christmas night, 1953, a fire swept through the Skip Kip Me squatter area on Kowloon leaving over 50,000 people homeless. Within two months the Public Works Department, faced with a public health crisis, had built a series of two-story blocks to provide emergency housing for 35,000 people. Shortly thereafter, the two story blocks gave way to the 6 and 7 story slabs shown here. In 1954, a Resettlement Department was formed to clear and rehouse squatters and manage the new housing. The Housing Authority was also formed to develop a better type of housing to be used on an application basis. While newer buildings are beginning to replace these slabs at Skip Kip Mei, many of the original buildings have been in constant use for over 30 years.
These gallery-access concrete slabs represent the absolute minimum in public housing. These 6 and 7 story walkup blocks, sited in parallel rows, organized with stairs at each end and dwellings arranged back-to-back along open galleries on both sides of the buildings, are probably the most extreme application of the zeilenbau principle. The Frankfurt existence minimum of 1925 seems luxurious by comparison. Extended families were housed in a single small room without cooking or sanitary facilities with a single door and window opening to a public walkway Each building contained communal toilets and cooking was done along the open galleries. These early slabs, the so-called Mark I blocks, were later replaced by the Mark II with slightly larger single rooms but with toilets and a cooking area. The Skip Kip Mei estate originally housed about 62,000 people at a density of over 2,000 people per acre. New redevelopment schemes have resulted in the gradual replacement of the original 29 blocks with better accommodations at lower densities. Some of the original gallery slabs were modernized in later years and rooms were grouped to form larger apartments.
Housing and Land in Hong Kong, Gov. Publication, 1982
Ekistics, No. 261, Aug. 1977,
Ekistics, No. 196, Mar. 1972,