Co-living is a term that has been floating around for quite some time, but only in recent years has it seen such a surge in popularity here in Hong Kong, likely a result of ever-increasing property prices and the growing conscious need for a sense of community. The idea of co-living is simple: you move into an accommodation with communal spaces (think kitchen, living room and work areas) and a focus on cultivating a community.
Jointly created by ARCH Capital and Wanderwonder Hospitality, Oootopia are creating true co-living spaces with the primary goal of putting humanity back into urban residential living. “Co-living will be the driving force of Hong Kong’s future property market amid demand for affordable housing in the world’s most expensive city for real estate. Besides offering serviced residences, our emphasis is on social interaction and entrepreneurship among like-minded people,” says ARCH Capital’s CEO Richard Yue.
Currently, they have three properties spread across Hong Kong, with locations in Kai Tak, Tai Kok Tsui, which opened in this May this year, and the brand new Oootopia West located within three minutes’ walk from the HKU MTR station, close to the hip Kennedy Town district.
After working on the first and second locations, Groundwork Architects + Associates Hong Kong returned to drive the design of Oootopia West. They’ve decided to continue a sleek and modern style in the newest property, using plenty of natural woods throughout—said to act as a reminder that we are part of a larger ecosystem. Subtle design touches like rugs and pillows add just the right amount of home comforts to the space, yet leaves enough room for individual personal touches. Where Oootopia West differs is in its decision to implement smart furniture including foldable dining tables and Switch Beds, Oootopia’s very own foldable bed system. This is a welcome addition for those looking to maximise floor space (almost everyone in Hong Kong) while retaining functionality.
Oootopia’s push to accommodate the modern-day Hongkonger doesn’t stop at its design. The Oootopia app puts everything that residents need at their fingertips, from accessing their room to making service requests, exploring local events and enjoying exclusive retail perks and F&B discounts.
Each Oootopia property also features a uniquely themed communal living room. Lim Boon Cheow, CEO of Oootopia, says, “We try to introduce different elements that would enhance and activate the community. At Oootopia Kai Tak, we have a cosy living room over 1,500 square feet, adorned with plants and flooded with light thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows, that creates a dialogue between the people inside and outside. At Oootopia Tai Kok Tsui, the Tea Room is subtly influenced by traditional Japanese tatami rooms, while the Ooo-bar at Oootopia West directly references the neighbourhoods’ bustling nightlife.”
As beautiful as Oootopia’s properties are, it is perhaps their commitment to creating a more compassionate living environment which deserves the most attention.
In a city where many are confined to tiny apartments with limited interaction with their neighbours and surroundings, Oootopia is breaking the norm and are already seeing relationships and friendships grow, as staff and residents come together to cook, celebrate birthdays and plan activities. “What brings together our diverse group of residents is the one common passion of pursuing their dreams, regardless of age, race, gender or occupation,” says Cheow. “Our residents range from chefs to fashion designers to bankers and entrepreneurs, each looking to live amongst like-minded people in an environment of genuine care and concern, sharing not just space but also experiences and networks, and forging friendships and bonds that will give the warmth of humanity to fellow Oootopians.“
To facilitate this, guests can keep up with events and outings directly through the app. Recent events include cooking classes, moon appreciation night and a visit to an elderly home in the area where residents brought local treats to their neighbours.
“For centuries, families largely lived, worked and played within the same building, epitomised by the traditional courtyard homes. In Hong Kong, however, this long-standing social fabric has worn thin as space has rapidly become a prime commodity,” laments Manfred Yuen, founder of Groundwork Architects + Associates Hong Kong.
“While we can’t rewind to such a time, we can reanimate the ideal as best we can. That’s the root we’re trying to get back to with Oootopia.”