Research Output
At home with density spatial representation in Hong Kong public housing.
  This study examines the representation of space in high-density Hong Kong public
housing. Over half the population in Hong Kong lives in public housing yet little is
known about how they physically cope with density through everyday dwelling.
Specifically, this post-occupancy study attempts to highlight the context of high density
dwelling as a legitimate dwelling experience. It focuses on residents' interpretation and
conception of space and examines problem-solving in the everyday context of high
density living.
The research is presented as a narrative highlighting spatial sensibilities in a culture of
density. It traces the development of housing forms from early Hong Kong to the
establishment of the Government housing programme. It will be argued that the
combination of a massive influx of a refugee population, and a shortage of housing in the
Territory created a situation where low-level design standards in public housing were
not only accepted by the population but became the norm.
Through qualitative interviews with long-term residents of public housing this study
proposes to question assumptions of Western spatial thinking within domestic space. It
looks at the way in which the changing habitus has been affected by social mobility and
shifting cultural values of space; in particular, it examines how different generations living
in the same household perceive and represent their home.
This thesis contributes to an emerging field of design knowledge. It is a reflective study
which, it is anticipated, will provide other designers with insight into lived-in qualities of
density and residents' ability to articulate design knowledge. It seeks to challenge
designers' preconceptions of density and the performance of professional design
knowledge in the interpretation of everyday space.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 August 1997

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    NA Architecture

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    728 Residential & related buildings


Rooney, N. At home with density spatial representation in Hong Kong public housing. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



spatial design; public housing; Hong Kong; density; housing forms; domestic space;

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