An urban hostel : traveler's forum

by Chu, Kwok-yung

Abstract (Summary)




Chu K wok Yung

M .Arch II 1996-97 Department of Arch itectu re The University of Hong Kong

March 1997 Thesis Supervisor Mr. S. C. La

Thesis Report

1.0 Definition

For a long time, traveling is the way for a first hand cultural interchange. People travel with the urge to the discover the unknown, to explore the new and strange places, to seek change in environment and to undergo new expenence.

Among them, the less well off "budget travelers", contribute a substantial amount of Hong Kong's overseas visitors population. They are searching for a traveling experience where they can enjoy various kinds of interaction with the people they meet. They demand not only a place of accommodation but an environment where interflow and interaction between travelers and local residents are encouraged.

Travelers gather around where actIvItIes occur and people come into contact and the urban context is the best place to fulfill such need. Thus, this thesis is a hypothetical proposal to establish an urban hostel within our metropolitan area. Both the physical and psychological needs of travelers are the generating force of the design, and the constraints of different aspects will be the determining factors for how this urban hostel is modeled.

Traveler's Forum: Au Urban Hostel

fig. 1.1

Thesis Report




1,1,1 Hong Kong: The Changing Situation in Tourism

Hong Kong has long been famous as the "Shoppers' Paradise" and most of the existing infrastructures for tourism are catered for the rich tourists in the past days. Nevertheless, with the changing political situation in both Hong Kong and the rvlainIand China, the trend of tourist industry is changing as more and more independent travelers are visiting China with Hong Kong as their statIOn or gateway in this exciting ori entalexplorationroute.

Different from the past, these independent travelers who constitute a large proportion of Hong Kong's tourist population today are usually less well off, i.e. the "budget travelers". Unfortunately, current situation shows that services which cater for such change has been overlooked. Main concern is still put on the rich tourists (Appendix I).

Finding a well-equipped low budget accommodation is a headache for the budget travelers. The hostelling services provided by the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association are nearly all situated in remote site. The increasing standard of the YMCA brings along an increase in price which becomes unaffordable for them. Although there are some low budget private guest houses, they are usually in poor condition and few concern is put in the communal aspects which budget travelers are looking for.

An Urban Hostei: A Travelers' Forum

jig. 1.2 parasitic guest house in Chung King Maim-lion

Thesis Report

_______________ A_.11 Urb_~nJiQ";?~.~J.:jl, Travelers' Forum

As a result, most of the budget travelers have no choice but to shorten their period of stay in Hong Kong or cut down expenditures on other aspects such as eating, entertainment or shopping. This effect not only dispirits their travel experience, but also, in a long term consideration, discourages their interest to have an in-depth exploration on this exciting island because of this practical reason. The research carried out by the Hong Kong Tourist Association have shown that the foreign travelers' average period of stay is about 4 days (Appendix II).

1.1.2 The Economic Constraint The Keen Competition of Land

The urban environment is the best place for the travelers. However, economic consideration has exerted great pressure on such feasibility. Within our high land value metropolis, most of the travelers' accommodation provided are high class hotels where high profit margin is possible. The high land value is the main factor that discourages a comprehensive provision for the less well-offtravelers, and the low profit margin hinders the money-oriented developers from stepping into this budget hostelling business. Currently, the budget hostels in Hong Kong are either run by voluntary organizations which depend on land supplied by the government or some poor-equipped small scale lodging parasiting on existing residential building.

fig. 1.3 our city, the compact lattices

Thesis Report

.1 The Local Budget Travelers -

Local Encouragement

On the other hand, with the growth in prosperity, more and more Hong Kong are setting out to explore the world self-planning arrangement. Their destinations are ranging from some hit

such as China, Western Europe, North America, Japan to adventurous places such as South Asia (India and Pakistan), Centra! and South America and North etc. (Appendix III)

One common problem encountered by these budget travelers is the lack of

and information for their planning of the trip. Although there are currently some small scale voluntary organizations providing traveling

nformation, their services are neither comprehensive nor extensive due to lack of and resources. This also accounts for their low popularity. Therefore, most often the local budget travelers would have to depend on guide book and travel agency for advice.

1.1.4 The "Black Hole" for


Hostel not only provides the temporary accommodation, but also serves as the base for the travelers. Intensive interaction among travelers and the local residents are expected. Nevertheless, such need has long been overlooked by existing hostelling services. Despite some small scale profitoriented private lodgings, the few hostel developments here are quite deficient in this

An Urban Hostel: A Travelers' Forum

fig. 1,4 a Hong Kong budget traveler in India

j1g. 1.5 travel



Thesis ~epor:L.- - A.n Urban Hostei: A Travelers' fO{Uffi

aspect. On the one hand, though this has always been one of the motives of the International Youth Hostel Federation, the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association, being a member of the federation, has ceased in achieving this aim due to some practical constraints as lack of land provision. On the other hand, the hostels run by those religious/ missionary organizations mostly exhibit standard hotel planning discouraging interflow between hostellers and locals. All these have rendered the hostels as some fortresses established within an urban context, keeping away the participation oflocal residents,

1.2 Hypothesis

1.2.1 The Potential Testing Ground

Under the economic consideration discussed before, existing hostels run by voluntary! missionary organizations are the potential testing ground for the demonstration of a new type interactive urban hostel in Hong Kong. As we would see, this kind of budget hostel, through the rental of accommodation and provision of public entertainment! commercial activities, can be financially self-sustainable or even supporting some communal activities. The only barrier perhaps lies in the burden of high land cost which can be resolved through the government's subsidy on land supply.

Thesis Report

.An Urban Hostel: ~ __ !ravelers' Forum

Hostel as a Community Place - The Travelers' Forum

The urban hostel should satisfy the physical and psychological needs for the travelers, while at the same time fulfill its role as a place for interaction among travelers and local residents through the integration of suitable communal facilities for local travelers and entertainment! commercial acti vities for the general public. The guests the travelers can thereby experience the urban lite within the context of the city and with the people of the city.

1,3 Objectives

This thesis alms at visualizing the integration of the hostel into the urban context through attachment to a voluntary organization which provides the venue. In order to fulfill to the satisfaction of the travelers, the local residents and the organization, the following factors should be observed:

?to study the budget travelers' needs and the problem of the existing low-cost accommodation in Hong Kong.

?to formulate an real model of urban

hostel which on one hand satisfies the efficient running and planning system, and on the other hand the physical and psychological needs for the travelers.

?to study the integration of the hostel into

the structure of the voluntary

Thesis Report

organization and to dissolve and reorganize different activities of the hostel and the organization such that they co-exist in harmony.

?through the integration of public and private programs, the hostel is an active contribution to the urban context, and an introduction of an recognizable communal place where interaction and exchange of experience is enhanced. Eventually, this hostel would become part of our urban landscape .

?the hostel is a channell interface for the public, especially the youth, to access the necessary information for selfplanned traveling. It should arouse and introduce the interesting aspects of selfplanned traveling, a retreat and also a self-exploring activity away from our routine daily life.




Chu Kwok Yung

IM.Arch II 1996-97 Department of Architecture The University of Hong Kong

105 -March 1997 Thesis Supervisor IMr. S. C. La

~~ecial Study Report

COmml!lJal Space j,D_Collective Environment 1


1.1 Introduction

" high-rise living takes people away from the ground, and away from the casual, every-day society that occurs on the sidewalks and streets and on the gardens and porches. It leaves them alone in their apartments . . . . . . .The forced isolation then causes individual breakdowns.'"

Under the process of industrialization, massive urbanization and the force of modernism, the living environment of human being has changed dramatically since the last century. New concept in social development, urban planning, design philosophy and construction methodology resulted in the change of scale, dimension and building types in architecture, and in turn our cityscape.

After a whole century of development, the result ofthe above process is familiar to all of us today. Especially in an urban environment like Hong Kong, the large population and the keen competition of land result in a massive vertical development and a extra-high density. We are living in an elevated environment: we live in the 25th floor, we work in an office at the 30th floor, and our social life shifted from the ground to some nth floor of a giant complex. Although much effort has been put to provide communal space in our urban environment, the gap between the traditional definition of human/communal space relationship and contemporary massive vertical development is still yet to resolve. Moreover, the psychological effect of extrahigh density also denies the sense of community and the interests of interaction. The question of how to reintroduce the value of communal life and restructure

1 Christopher Alexander, 'f:! Pattern Language", p.116, 1977

Special Study Report

ComJ1lt,l.D.1J,lfu!~ce in Collective Environment 2

the sense of community in environment is worth discussing.

our contemporary

1.2 Research Area and Report Structure

This special study report aims at a comprehensive research on collective dwellings. Various examples from Hong Kong and the rest of the world which demonstrate this concept of providing a sense of community within a collective environment are chosen for detail analysis and serves as the basis in reaching the conclusion. Most examples presented are housing projects which would help to understand the basic rules of gathering a large amount of individual units under the practical constrain. Moreover, housing is believed to be a building type contains the most private/personal life of different individuals, and on the other hand, provides enormous opportunities for human interaction.

The planning consideration and methodology the modern housing prototypes are used as the introductory point of the study, with examples from earlier projects to illustrate the principles in housing mass population in contemporary cities. The study would then focus on some later projects which are in fact a further development and variation on the design concept of these prototypes and start to evolve treatments integrating communal space within the building. The last part of the study would concentrate on the fundamental conflict between privacy and communal life. Various solutions are classified in order to formulate a design guideline for this issue of how the sense of community can be achieved while keeping the balance between both.

,SpecililLStYdvB~port G.Qmmunal Sp3Cl' in Col.I~ctive Rnvironml'nt


1.3 Objectives

The hypothetical background of this thesis paper, An Urban Hostel, is a condition of temporary and collective dwelling for travelers from all over the world. Consideration on the planning efficiency resulted in a high-rise environment with a relatively high density. However, the communal aspects among travelers is also of high importance when considering the very fundamental concept of traveling.

This special study, try to formulate a comprehensive design guideline for the followings objectives:-

?toexamme how sense of community and communal

life can be reintroduced in our contemporary highrise collective environment, according to the actual needs ofthe community members.

?to create an overall communal environment between the hostel and its neighbourhood, and to fulfill the physical and psychological needs for the travelers.

?to investigate how communal space can be integrated into the standardized module of hostel units and enhance the sense of community.

?how the conflict between private and communal life

can be resolved by architectural method, while keeping the balance between both.

Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:youth hostels china hong kong designs and plans tsim sha tsui


Date of Publication:01/01/1997

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