Research Projects

The Accommodation of Mobility: Housing Transient Populations in the Contemporary Asian City

(Funded under Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research, The University of Hong Kong)

Principal Investigator

Max Hirsh, Research Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Total Fund Awarded

HKD 119,927

Project Duration

July 2014 – June 2016

Project Description

The project investigates the inter-Asian circulation of capital, labor, and architectural expertise through the lens of three housing typologies that are designed to accommodate transient populations — and that have, in short order, become the signature design elements of contemporary urbanization in Asian cities. Focusing on serviced apartments, modular dwelling units, and diaspora retirement condominiums, the project uses these three typologies as a lens for interrogating the substantial increase in the number of people who are working, studying, and retiring abroad. Cycling back and forth between two or more locations at regular intervals, these short-term and part-time inhabitants cannot be accurately described as either casual tourists or as permanent residents, but rather fall somewhere in between the two categories. The expansion of these transnational migrant groups — such as technical experts and manual laborers, students, and retirees — is reflected in the multiplication of housing products that are tailored to their circulatory travel patterns across national boundaries. Through fieldwork, interviews, and archival research, the project aims to achieve a more nuanced understanding of inter-Asian mobility and its impact on the socio-spatial fabric of the contemporary city.