The Village code

Exhibition Design

A collaboration with Ben Hayes, Chang Liu and John Lin, together with students from the University of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Small House Policy (SHP) was introduced in 1972. The objective set out to ‘improve the prevailing low standard of housing in rural villages’, allowing the government to develop these areas. The policy allows for an indigenous male villager who is over 18 years of age, and is descended through the male line from a resident in 1898 of a recognised village in the New Territories, an entitlement to one concessionary grant during his lifetime to build one small house. As the rapid expansion of these areas in Hong Kong have outstripped policy provisions, it has become impossible to satisfy the demand for small houses. According to a study on the Small House Policy by the think tank Civic Exchange, it is estimated that there may be up to 90,000 outstanding small house claims. These claims would require another 11-12 square kilometres of land to fulfil – approximately the size of 277 Victoria Parks in Hong Kong. This high demand has led to unregulated individual developments which do not comply with regulations – the number of which has made policing almost impossible. However, these new and ameliorated structures provide an organic reference library through which we can gain insight into to the lives and needs of the occupants. The project seeks to find a way to reconcile the demands of the community while preserving the natural spatial qualities of the village.

Shenzen Biennale of Architecure and Urbanism 


Donn Holohan, Ben Hayes, John Lin, Chang Liu, together with HKU Architecture students