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The first complex of O-Pods, 100-sq-ft homes built within concrete water pipes, will open in Shenzhen in July. Developed by Hong Kong-based architect James Law, the O-Pod is designed to be a cheap solution for young people who cannot afford conventional living spaces. The concrete pipes can be stacked on top of one another (in ways that shipping containers cannot) and be placed in underutilized locations – between buildings, under bridges and more. Law aims for the O-Pods’ rent to be HKD 3,000 (USD 400); tenants will receive two-thirds of their rent back when they leave, so that they can use the money for a proper home.

This is an extreme response to an epic global social and economic shift: young adults are hitting typical ‘markers of adulthood’ – getting married, having kids, buying their first homes – much later than their parents and grandparents.

The O-Pod especially speaks to this because Hong Kong, for example, has been found to have the least affordable housing globally for eight years. You may be skeptical that a 100-sq-foot tube could sufficiently alleviate this problem or serve as an adequate home, but O-Pods are still 50 sq ft bigger than the living spaces that many low-income Hong Kong residents can afford. And here, James Law upcycled concrete pipes to not only save time and resources in constructing dwellings, but came up with a novel pricing structure reassuring O-Pod’s young tenants that they can (and one day, will) reach the same milestones that their parents did.

Your goal might not be as lofty as solving the urban affordability crisis. But can you use this innovation as inspiration: what disruptive product or service could you offer to help young adults beat the challenging economic environment, and assist them in reaching certain life markers?

This is an example of our ASSISTED DEVELOPMENT trend, one of our (free!) 5 Trends for 2018. Clients get full access to 20,000+ innovation examples from 100+ additional trends. Learn more about our Premium Service »

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