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Transitional Housing


Transitional housing is a social innovation that fosters a paradigm shift in the global development of short-term affordable housing. Breaking the dichotomy between public and private housing, transitional housing provides not only physical accommodation, but also offers social support to tenants. In Hong Kong, while the local government may facilitate the establishment of transitional housing, it is the NGOs who take up multiple roles as builder, operator, and service provider. As such, transitional housing from its conceptualisation and implementation to its operation requires far more vigorous trans-sector and trans-professional collaboration.

J.C.DISI is a committed player to the study of transitional housing in Hong Kong. In early 2021, a $3.15m funding was awarded to JCDISI under the Strategic Public Policy Research (SPPR) Funding Scheme, operated by the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office (PICO) of the Hong Kong SAR Government. The Scheme aims to support longer-term public policy research on strategic themes and facilitate collaboration among institutions and think tanks. In line with these aims, this study led by J.C.DISI will be conducted through extensive cross-departmental and cross-institutional effort, with contribution by leading experts from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Construction Industry Council, leading architecture firms and builders.

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In order to enhance Hong Kong’s capacity to deliver transitional housing, the first part of our study is a comprehensive investigation which, drawing on overseas and local cases, examines aspects including design and construction, government involvement, project operation, and tenant experience. This study will allow us to make recommendations on regulatory, approval, and operation policies, as well as produce a Best Practice Guide and Development Manual to cover technical issues in all stages of the development and operation process.

The crux of success under this new paradigm is mutual understanding and trust, efficient communication and effective collaboration. Aiming to forge a solid partnership between all related sectors and professions including NGOs, government, angel landlords, related development professionals and contractors, the second part of our study will focus on examining their interplay, contribution, pain points, conflicts and issues. This will be carried out against various transitional housing forms, including remodelling existing flats, converting school and other government buildings, and constructing new relocatable blocks in public or private land of short tenure. Measures to facilitate a wider application of Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) technology will be a special focus to enhance the cost-effectiveness and design flexibility of projects.

Other Research Papers

(2024) Crystal Kwan, Arnold Y.L. Wong, Ho Chung Tam, Edward K.N. Ngai, Wing Tung Lam, Wing Him Tang, Lui Ka Chun, and Debby Y.Y. Cheng, "Evaluating a Multimodal Intervention for Hong Kong's Older Informal and Precarious Workers"

This article evaluates the Pickers’ Link, a Hong Kong initiative enhancing older waste pickers’ bio-psycho-social well-being, addressing research and practice gaps for precarious workers. The program's influence and mechanisms were captured in themes spanning social and digital engagement, health and mobility benefits, crucial outreach engagement and personalized support. The quantitative analysis revealed pain reduction and cognitive enhancements post-treatment, while improvements in grip strength and physical function did not meet clinical significance thresholds.

(2024) Yang Yang, Bowen Zheng, Calvin Luk, Ka-fai Yuen, Albert Chan, “Towards a Sustainable Circular Economy: Understanding the Environmental Credits and Loads of Reusing Modular Building Components from a Multi-use Cycle Perspective”, Sustainable Production and Consumption, 46:543-558

Properly designed modular construction offers the potential for easy disassembly, relocation, and reuse across multiple use cycles. However, the environmental benefits and burdens resulting from the reuse of modular components over these cycles are not well understood. The study aimed to assess the environmental credits and loads associated with reusing modular components over multiple use cycles...

Luk, C.W. (2023) Technical Report on the Deconstruction, Relocation and Reinstallation of MiC Modules in Nam Cheong 220 Transitional Housing Project

Using Modular-integrated Construction (MiC) method to build transitional housing can achieve earlier occupancy, owing to its faster on-site project delivery when compared with traditional in-situ construction. As these temporary housing projects are normally developed on vacant government or privately-owned land with limited duration of land tenure, the adapted MiC method shall also allow efficient disassembly and future reuse/reinstallation in their subsequent life cycles. Otherwise, if these temporary MiC housing projects are scrapped and disposed of as construction waste, the adverse environmental impact relative to the period of use may be much greater than that of permanent buildings. To optimise the environmental sustainability and economic value of temporary MiC housing, it calls for a shift from demolition to deconstruction, a process of disassembly, relocation, and reuse.

Luk, C.W. (2024), "Environmental Design for Older Adults", Ageing Care in the Community: Current Practices and Future Directions, Ch. 13.

Population ageing is a challenge to societies worldwide in terms of healthcare, social support, community infrastructure, and more. With one of the longest life expectancies in the world, Hong Kong will soon see a dramatic increase in the number of older residents together with a decrease in the old age dependency ratio. This book provides a timely examination of the current status and services available for Hong Kong’s ageing population in four key areas: general healthcare needs, such as health promotion and lifestyle modifications; specific healthcare needs, including care of chronic conditions and hip fractures; psychosocial needs for older people with intellectual disabilities and impairments, as well as the needs of their caregivers; and environmental and technological needs in relation to universal design, information and communication technology, and telehealth. Drawing from a wide range of experience in local professional settings combined with international best practices, the authors offer holistic, evidence-based solutions for the development of an age-friendly society where elders can age in place at home in their communities. These suggestions will be useful for policy makers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, care workers, as well as older people and their families not only in Hong Kong but globally.

Chan, S., Tsang, A.S.Y., Chow, J.M.L. and Lee, B. (2023). Presentation at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Conference on Engagement, Empathy, and Creativity: Experiential Learning through Design Thinking for Secondary School Students, Chicago, 13-16 April 2023.

In a world of unprecedented changes and uncertainties, our next generation needs to be equipped with appropriate skills to solve real-world problems. Design thinking, an approach to solving novel problems, can be situated in education to help students learn to solve ill-defined problems, practice empathy, think critically, as well as think creatively. This paper will describe an experiential learning opportunity whereby secondary school students experienced the stages of design thinking through a workshop. There were many gains, including an increase in the students’ level of creativity, as well as a heightened awareness of the needs of others. This study shows that experiencing design thinking can be beneficial to secondary students as they acquire essential skills for the future.

[只提供英文版] Chow, J.M.L., Tsang, A.S.Y., & Chan, K.L. (2022). Presentation at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Conference on Reimagining Teacher Education through Design Thinking: A Mixed-methods Analysis, Virtual conference, 21-26 April 2022.

The study reported in this paper examines an under-researched aspect of design thinking (DT) in teacher education. While DT has popularized for responding to the needs of 21st century teaching and learning, there have been very few attempts to gauge the voices of teachers as non-designers and how they master the related knowledge, skills, and attitudes of DT. To illustrate this, Retna (2016) notes that very limited empirical evidence has navigated teachers’ voices throughout the implementation process and endeavored to respond to this gap. There is also a wider issue here about how teacher education institutes prepare for a 21st century teaching force that can respond to uncertainties and with this in mind the current paper draws on the voices of 24 pre-service teachers at a leading university in Asia. Through understanding this important learning process of facilitating DT workshops we hope to show how pre-service teachers, as non-designers confront the challenges and show development in the important mindsets associated with DT. There is a lack of attention invested in such process (Diefenthaler et al, 2017) and the current paper seeks to better understand it.

Chow, J.M.L., Tsang, A.S.Y., Chan, K.L., Kwok, K.H.R., & Harfitt, G.J, (2021). Presentation at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Conference on Experiential Education in Action: Improving Learning Outcomes for All through Design Thinking, Virtual conference, 9-12 April 2021.

Adolescents’ classroom experiences have a long-term impact on their future education and life chances (Kramer, 1991). Long have achievement gaps among students been recognized, so it is crucial to explore different instructional strategies that can improve learning outcomes for all (Okoye-Johnson, 2011). Design thinking has been widely applied in business settings and a growing trend has been observed in the K12 classroom as well. Yet, little is known on the effects of such application on different learning outcomes (Razzouk & Shute, 2012). In responding to this gap, the current study stems from the second year of a 3-year project that offers subjectbased design thinking workshops to secondary schools in Hong Kong. Adopting a mixedmethods approach, this study aims to unpack the learning experiences of students engaged in this innovative curriculum initiative with depth and breadth. Findings inform policymakers and fieldwork practitioners who seek to nurture students for the 21st century.

Tsang, A. S. Y., Chan, K.L., & Chow, J. M. L. (2021) Presentation at International Symposium and Expo on Service-Learning & Socially Responsible Global Citizenship 2021. Developing 21st Century Competencies in Pre-service and In-service Teachers through Design Thinking: A Cross-university Approach, 9-10 July 2021.

Design thinking (DT) is a human-centric, iterative and interactive problem-solving process that captures how designers innovate and problem-solve. Such important skill set has become one of the most crucial skill set in the knowledge society of the twenty-first century (OECD, 2015). Thus, DT has been widely applied in business education and social innovation, and a similar trend has also been observed in the field of education (Carroll et al, 2010) and yet, there is a paucity of study that try to understand the important learning outcomes of such application (Taheri et al, 2016) and to empower teachers to adopt DT as a pedagogy (Panke, 2019). This presentation highlights a cross-university collaboration on nurturing 21st century skills in pre-service, in-service teachers and students with an experiential learning process through DT workshops.

Lee, N.K (2020) One from Hundred Thousand Symposia Series Season 4: Intergenerational Play Space Co-creation Workshop and Symposium. HONG KONG REPORT On the State of Sustainable Built Environment 2020. Hong Kong Construction Industry Council, Hong Kong Green Building Council. p79.

One of three JCDISI projects featured in the Hong Kong Report on the State of Sustainable Built Environment 2020 (Hong Kong Report 2020) to showcase Hong Kong's accomplishments in striving to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals among the 102 selected projects.

Luk, C.W., Lee, N.K (2020) JCDISI “Operation SoInno” Action Project: Transitional Social Housing. HONG KONG REPORT On the State of Sustainable Built Environment 2020. Hong Kong Construction Industry Council, Hong Kong Green Building Council. p160-161.

One of three JCDISI projects featured in the Hong Kong Report on the State of Sustainable Built Environment 2020 (Hong Kong Report 2020) to showcase Hong Kong's accomplishments in striving to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals among the 102 selected projects.

Luk, C.W., Chung, K.F., Jiang H. (2020) Relocatable Housing Using Modular Integrated Construction. HONG KONG REPORT On the State of Sustainable Built Environment 2020. Hong Kong Construction Industry Council, Hong Kong Green Building Council. p202.

One of three JCDISI projects featured in the Hong Kong Report on the State of Sustainable Built Environment 2020 (Hong Kong Report 2020) to showcase Hong Kong's accomplishments in striving to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals among the 102 selected projects.

Luk CW, Tong YN, Lee KK, et. al., (2020) Relocatable Housing by Modular Integrated Construction – CNERC MiC Progress Report

Supported by the Chinese National Engineering Research Centre For Steel Construction (Hong Kong Branch), JCDISI worked together with Leigh & Orange Limited and WSP to investigate how the modern technology of MiC can help address the unprecedented challenge of transitional housing in Hong Kong. After months of investigation, the study aims at identifying key technical issues and proposing an adaptable solution in form of a relocatable MiC building system prototype is now released.

Sun, Y., Ling, K.K. (2020) Walkability and Its Implications for Planning Age-friendly Cities: Evidence from Hong Kong. Urban Planning International, v35(1), 47

For high density urban areas, promoting walkability is conducive to enhancing age-friendliness of cities and communities. Walkable environment enhances the levels of physical activities, which will finally improve physical and mental health of older people. This paper measures walkability scores for the whole territories of Hong Kong, based on residential density, street connectivity, and land-use mix. Results indicate that downtown areas (i.e., Hong Kong Island and Kowloon) have higher walkability scores than New Territories. Area-based walkability is positively associated with population density and employment rate in tertiary sectors, and is negatively associated with household income and size of the land. Interview with planning professionals suggests that different planning paradigms in downtown and New Territories give rise to various levels of walkability. Land lots are smaller, and the streets are narrower in old urban areas, which promote human and commercial activities. However, the highly congregated development mode has negative impacts on the public health. Future development shall seek a balance between plot size and diversity in the zoning process. Quantitative methods should be enriched by other methods to propose strategies oriented to the enhancement of elderly livability and well-being.

Ling, K.K., Lee K. (2019). Tackling Double-ageing with Double-smart. Journal of Hong Kong Institute of Planners, 33, 4-20.

Population ageing and building stock ageing are usually tackled as two separate subjects and each has already received much attention. However, the Hong Kong community at large is less aware that the combined impact of population ageing and building ageing, i.e. “double ageing”, is a much more complex issue to address. If not tackled properly and in a timely manner, “double ageing” as a socio-economic issue will have significant impact on the sustainable development of Hong Kong, significantly affecting the liveability and resilience of the city. The first objective of this paper is to elaborate on the problems and evaluate existing efforts in tackling the challenge. This paper advocates an integrated, people-centric “double-smart” approach to leverage the merits of smart ageing and smart city in tackling double-ageing and bring positive changes for the city.

Ling K.K. (2019). Possible Way Forward for Increasing the Supply of Social Welfare Sites and Premises. Journal of Hong Kong Institute of Planners, 33, 52-57

The supply of social welfare sites and premises is perceived by the general public or social welfare counterparts to fall under the realm of land and urban planning. This perception is not incorrect. Yet, I wish to point out that as a pre-requisite to accomplish the concerned tasks, both planners and the Planning Department (PlanD) must secure the collaboration and cooperation of various parties. We also need to view from the perspective of social innovation in opening up our minds, broadening our horizon, triggering collective wisdom, and coordinating the endeavours and cooperation of different parties with a view to identifying the possible way forward for increasing the supply of social welfare sites and premises.

Luk Calvin WH. (2019) Guide for Vertical Building Design for the Elderly in Hong Kong《南方建築》華南理工大學建築學院期刊2019, v190(2):13-18

Around the world, countries are hosting rapidly accelerating aging populations, with many establishing and implementing building guidelines to ensure successful aging-in-place as a response. Universal design has been adopted as a general approach, with the endorsement of UNCRPD and WHO. Best practices have also been proposed in some nations to set an even higher standard to guide the industry. At the same time, the prevalence of dementia is increasing. Following the emergence of Evidence/Research-Based Design and Salutogenic Design, design for the elderly no longer comprises discrete considerations of mobility or sensory deficits, but incorporates a continuum of physical, mental, cognitive and psychosocial factors in one holistic approach. Such an approach will benefit people of all ages. For a vertical city like Hong Kong, it can be adapted to suit high rise living and mass ground movement of the densely distributed city network. ("Double Aging" refers to the phenomenon of simultaneous occurrence of an aging population and aging building stock, having profound impacts on society and urban living.)

Xiang Liqun, Luk Calvin WH. (2019). Barrier Free Built Environment in Hong Kong. in K. Ling, YR. Sun, XC. Bai (Eds.), Development Report on the Cause for Persons with Disabilities in China (2019), (B17: p. 356-377)

It has been nearly a half century since Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China began promoting the accessible environment in the early 1970s. Starting from describing the international transformation on the concept of “Disability”, this paper first sorts out the theoretical development in Hong Kong including “Physically Handicapped and Able-Bodied”,“Barrier-free Design” and “Universal Design”; Then clarifies the promotion mechanism of the accessible environment from the perspective of policies and regulations, investments and the coordination between different institutions; After that, the achievements on residential buildings, public spaces and tourist attractions are introduced. At last, how mainland China can learn from Hong Kong’s experiences and apply that in construction tasks of related facilities when promoting the accessible environment are discussed.

The Tale of Three Cities (Prof. HSIA Chu Joe, Thinker-in-residence 2015)

Prof. HSIA Chu Joe specialises in architecture and urban research in Taiwan. His book “The Tale of Three Cities” offers a collection of notes on three cities, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Taiwan, in the global information age. Limited copies available upon request.

Living Out the Contradiction of Our Time (Mr. CHAN Koonchung, Thinker-in-residence 2014)

Mr. CHAN Koonchung, a prominent writer and cultural figure in the Chinese-reading community, laid the groundwork for social innovation by extrapolating local wisdom to construct the parameters of a good society. In his book, “Living Out the Contradiction of Our Time”, he explored the types of education and social innovation that will allow the next generation to respond to unstoppable advances in technology. Limited copies available upon request.

Tête-à-êtet (Prof. Matthew TURNER, Thinker-in-residence 2013)

Prof. Matthew TURNER, Professor Emeritus of Edinburgh Napier University, has had a long career in Hong Kong that has allowed him to witness the city’s transformation; he is undoubtedly an interesting and knowledgeable figure to envision Hong Kong’s future. In his book, “Tête-à-êtet” addresses two related questions, namely “what is social innovation?” and “what does social innovation mean and what could it mean for Hong Kong?”


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