Young girl becomes first tenant of Capsule Apartment

| April 9th, 2010

From Legal Evening News:

The end of last month, a 78 year old retired engineer Huang Rixin (黄日新) built 8 units of “Capsule Apartment” in Liulangzhuang, Haidian district in Beijing. Each unit is less than 2 square meters and can only fit a single bed. The monthly rent for each unit is between 200 – 250 yuan.

After the apartments were built, no one has ever come by. So Huang Rixin opened up the apartment units for “test-living”. After test-living, last night “Capsule Apartment” finally welcomed its first tenant!

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10 pm at night, Zhang Qi is reading in bed in the “Capsule Apartment”

At 8 pm last night, a 25 year old girl, Zhang Qi (张琪) of Shanxi carried all her belongings – a small suit case and moved into her new place. Short haired and wearing a short shirt, her face was full of sunshine.

Zhang Qi was in Beijing for the past 5 years, currently works at an advertising company in Guangqumen. Her monthly salary is 3000 – 4000 yuan. Couple days ago she found out that the Capsule Apartment allows “test-living”, so she came. 5 days later, most of the people “test-lived” there one by one all moved away, she was the only person brought all her belongings and decided to stay for long term.

She became the first tenant of the capsule apartment.

“I was not very adjusted on the first day” Zhang Qi said, the insulation was not so good, and all her neighbors were migrant workers so it was very noisy at night. And she did not bring a thick enough blanket, so she was very cold and couldn’t sleep on the first night.

“But I am getting use to it!” Zhang Qi smiled and said while she was unpacking.

Last night she brought over cotton fabrics, wallpapers and scissors etc. happily started detracting her new home.

She first used cotton fabrics as her “ceiling” then put up the wallpapers. “There is a fairy tale world in every girl’s heart” Zhang Qi said, in here she can achieve her Beijing dream.

The only inconvenience Zhang Qi felt is the toilet and shower, she must walk outside from her third floor apartment at night to go to the bathroom, and must go to the bath house for shower. But Zhang Qi felt that she can overcome if others can.

Before this she shared an apartment with others and paid 800 yuan per month, but now she has her independent space. Zhang Qi planned to stay here at least for one year, “if possible I would live her until I get married.”

The neighbor migrant workers all do not understand, “we all dislike living here, why would this little girl like to live here?”

Today, the designer of the apartment huang Rixin was pleased and said, “someone is renting, that means my design was acknowledged.”

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A reporter wanting to experience this kind of life became Zhang Qi’s next door neighbor.

 

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Zhang Qi putting up paintings to decorate her apartment

 

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Hallway of  the Capsule Apartment has Transparent glass floor that sees through downstairs.

Dialogue with Zhang Qi:

(法制晚报: Legal Evening News hereafter referred as FW): What are the main reasons for you to live here?

Zhang: My father died in 2008, my mother does not work and my sister just graduated. The money I save can help my family.

FW: Do your family and friends know that you are living here?

Zhang: I just broke up with my boyfriend. All my good friends knew, wait till I finish decorating and I will invite them over. They even all think I am very “hip”. I felt that running around in life, there is no need to tell my family.

FW: Do you think living here is depressing?

Zhang: This is my own space; you can put up your own photos, feels kind of successful. People are born equal; living here does not mean the future will not be good, maybe a lot of artists will appear here!

FW: Do you think it is safe here?

Zhang: Safe or not I did not think about, I feel most people are good.

FW: Do you have plans to buy a house?

Zhang: Actually in 2008, I used my own money and helps from my mother bought a small home in Shunjing, 20 square meters, no property rights, only 130,000 yuan, now it is worth 220,000 yuan. I am renting it out for 1,200 a month.

45 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Eric Havaby says:

    Do they photograph all their guests in bed?

  2. Mark says:

    Dude…just…dude…. I’ve seen sleeper compartments in the trains with more room…. If this is the Beijing dream, time to wake up. China’s a big place, and people insist on dogpiling in a few cities for a taste of the 21st century pie, at serious personal expense. People are letting themselves become file folders to be stored away in a literal filing cabinet.

  3. Crystal says:

    Even in a 2square meters space, girl is girl. Look at that colored bedset and pictures on the wall, it looks much warmer and better than before. :) I wish she fufills her dreams.

    • jw says:

      girls being girls the same the world over, then where will she keep her mountain of shoes and hand bags?!

      • Freakboy says:

        Have you just added a retort that stereotypes all woman in to being the same??? How can you point your figure at me and then turn and do the same thing. Oh what a wondering life you must have to be able to be above all but yourself. OH you were trying to be funny. hahaha sorry not laughing.

        • Parodizer says:

          Oh Freakboy, jw was actually mocking Crystal… and maybe you’re not a boy, but one of those spoiled, concerned girls?

  4. Freakboy says:

    This is very typically Chinese only going half way and thinking it is real. I have seen the capsule apt in Japan and they are really nice, they have built in TV and computers and a basin and toilet, and there is a shower right on the same floor. This is very typical Chinese close enough is good enough.

    • jw says:

      This is very typically idiot only opening his mouth before thinking.
      with the same cost of one night in a japanese capsule holet you can have a whole month, i would say that the chinese capsule are much better vaule and real enough for me.

      • Gary says:

        What he means is that the Japanese capsule hotels are designed to be capsule living spaces. This article is about normal size one bedroom apartments that some guy partitioned off into several mini rooms. It’s an interesting experiment but it IS half-assed. If I knew someone in the construction business in Beijing I’d encourage an apartment building that is supposed to be capsules from the start. There are way too many luxury apartments that sit empty in BJ and not enough housing that people can afford.
        If the place were designed properly and not just some partitions in a regular room, I bet it would have more young professionals and less migrant workers.

        • Freakboy says:

          funny how people can’t see the forest for the trees, and simply get insulted and take it personally. Props for your more information I keep forgetting that some people can’t think outside the box here.

          • jw says:

            your comments would not be taken as a insult if you didn’t start your comment with a racist stereotyping of chinese people.

            • Freakboy says:

              I have found that if you go around looking to be insulted then you will be insulted. Stereotyping? Yes your right but if you understand that then why did you get insulted? Idiot humm? Maybe I am but I have been called worse by better people. Racist, maybe you had better take a good long look at yourself before you peg someone else with that bit of slander.

  5. b-real says:

    well she is the perfect women. Making the best out of the situation and not using a man to escape. You go girl do your thing.!!!

  6. dongshizhang says:

    throw a refrigerator box in there and you got a 2nd floor. sublet!

    • Ashby says:

      Good point:

      Make the bed hinge down from the wall at about chest height, and she can park her bike (or motorbike?) “downstairs”.

      Make it hinge in two sections, and one can be a chair, the other a table/ desk.

      There’s room for features still.

  7. kira says:

    It is truly horrible, I admire the girl’s courage to live in such depressingly narrow space. She can handle this, then she can surly handle a lot more difficulties in the future, i wish her brighter tomorrow

  8. Stuffah says:

    Anyone else think it might not be a coincidence that she works in advertising?

    • b-real says:

      oooooh good point. She is one cheap bitch then. She makes too much money to be living there. I think her boyfriend kicked out and she really needed a place to stay. Just a thought.

  9. April says:

    b-real is a moron and has no idea why this woman chose to live in there. Have you ever considered the situation in China? Saving money is imperative because of the non existence of social programs for people of lower income. This girl is doing what she thinks is best for herself and her family. Do you actually think she enjoys living in that cubicle or would she rather live in a in a comfortable apartment with all amenities? This girl is not afraid to sacrifice her comfort because she is thinking of other’s beside herself. I like this girl and wish more people would have a heart such as hers.

  10. April says:

    b-real I apologize for calling you a moron.

  11. shenmeniao says:

    He is so kindheartedly and optimist

    persevere through struggles and live pragmatical in your cell

    you have acknowledged the design of the wild cell maker

    tags: beijing vagabond

  12. Vado says:

    I think it’s alright. That’s a lie. It’s crap. However I’d consider it if I thought safety wasn’t an issue. It looks like she’s got a green curtain that slides over to cover the “ceiling”, so you wouldn’t have to feel like you were in a cage. And it’s only temporary of course. More power to her for making the sacrifice.

  13. I think I remember a Seinfeld episode where Kramer houses 3 grown Japanese men in a Dresser. Chinese efficiency is still not as good as Japan’s.

  14. Rosi says:

    esto es horrible, claustrofóbico e inhumano, no demos ideas porque enseguida aparcerán los corruptos de turno de nuestro pais, y se seguirán lucrando a nuestra costa.

  15. lolo says:

    eso es un ataud! donde esta el wc?

  16. KahnKee says:

    Space is a mental thing. Believe and see it in your mind’s eye that it is a beautiful mansion with a large garden and water fall in the backyard and it will be. Meditation will help you overcome such a small obstacle in life. A blind person never complains about the size of his home, neither should you. It is a mind over matter thing. I could live there forever and I will not utter one word of complain. On top of that, you are saving lots of money to help your family. That alone gives you a lot of joy and happiness. Can’t you see the smile on Zhang Qi’s face? You go girl, you are doing the right thing.

  17. Alex Lo says:

    Does any one know the number of the man I should contact? i want to rent a room there

    • Ashby says:

      I was looking for something exactly like this in college. Since it wasn’t available, I couldn’t afford to stay in school. Simple as that.

      Nowadays I no longer need it. But back in the day it would have been a lifesaver.

      Sure, some things could be improved: Ventilation that is not such a privacy violation, better soundproofing…

      And with the technology that you see in camper vans, yes the toilet/ shower/ sink/ fridge/ microwave could indeed fit into that space too. But then the rent might have to double, just for all the amenities.

  18. Liz says:

    I think they should be at least wide enough to sleep two people comfortably. They should also include a small bathroom at least a toilet. I know bath houses are common over there. However, given the prize of them its not bad. I have closterphobia. I know I spelled that wrong. So for me this is a huge obstacle for me. So I do not know if I could personally live there. With that being said, as long as she feels safe, and can make it her own space then definitely. At the same time, I would only spend my time sleeping there I think and to just watch tv. I think if more Americans and other westerners had houses like this weight problem would be over.

  19. Griffin says:

    This is my worst nightmare. and I totally agree with the migrant workers statements “we all hate living here, why is this young woman choosing this life?”
    The man who has created this cell structure of human inmate/tennants is a nutcase entrepraneur. His bandying and painting of negative into positive makes my skin crawl.
    The girl has no roof, and worse, she can be filmed and photgraphed while asleep (negative) so she is forced to put up screens to allow for some privacy. The old fuck thinks this is the fancy and childlike nature of a little girl filled with wonderment and imagination. NO you old fuck! this is the only choice of a girl who doesnt want to be spied on and filmed or photographed while she sleeps. NOT THE SAME THING. She puts up photographs and wallpaper because the room feels like living inside a dog-pound kennel, she wants to brighten it up. He thinks that is delightful. yeah, lucky you, old man. YOU HAVE ONE STINGY WEIRDO GIRL WHO WANTS TO LIVE IN YOUR INSANE CELL HOUSE FOR POOR PEOPLE WITH NO MONEY!! LUCKY YOU!!!
    I say she is stingy because she is, she can afford to live somewhere else. She just wants to save her money, and she will come out of this experience even more stingy, and even more weird.
    No human being should live this way.
    This is disgusting.

    • YangGuiZi says:

      I think a point missed here is that she has the CHOICE. The migrant workers have the choice too. Just try doing that in the US and see if you’ll have that freedom of choice to live in one.

      Moreover, you neighbors in the US wouldn’t allow it because they’d be afraid of it depreciating property values. The closest thing we have in the US is the 10 or more immigrant workers from south of the border living in a one or two bedroom apartment in low-cost housing in Texas. (not being stereotypical, but have seen many such situations.)

      She may be stingy or, at least, a miser; but she has that choice. Her economic situation isn’t bad if you compare it to the migrant workers or to other lower paying jobs, like dishwashers, street-cleaners, etc., but her salary would really be just enough to “get by” in Beijing. Considering that food in Beijing would also be about as much as the rent on the house she bought, she really isn’t able to save a whole lot of money for a second house anyway. (To buy a second house in China, the law is now that you have to pay much more than the standard 20-25% down payment.)

      • AnnInFL says:

        We Americans do have this choice –we can choose to live in our cars! And they are more comfortable than this tiny cage. You can also live in a small mobile home (they are quite comfortable and popular, but don’t do well in hurricanes).

        Another choice is to be officially homeless and just go live in a public homeless shelter. Last year, in our area, the Catholic Church donated some land, and together with the city, they built a new homeless camp, complete with a number of tiny wooden sheds to serve as individual shelters. These structures did not meet the proper city building regulations for housing, but were given an exception because they were considered only temporary housing. Advocates sneered at these sheds, comparing them to doghouses. I think they are quite nice; at least they do not look like a cold metal cage, with no privacy. And they are FREE.

        • KahnKee says:

          We are talking about this Chinese girl in China, not some ugly Americans. It makes no point comparing the two as both are from different countries.

        • Ashby says:

          First, who said she can afford a car? Second, even for Americans who are willing to live in a car, can they afford to park it anywhere? This capsule is cheaper than a parking space (typically $100/month for apartment renters; $300/month at a campground) plus it includes access to bathroom and electricity.

          I love your case about the public homeless shelter. The price is right, and I wish they existed in more places. I’ve never seen nor heard of anything like that before, and there certainly isn’t one like that in Beijing.

          Very few countries have any safety net at all to prevent the unemployed or retired from dying of starvation on the street. At the other extreme, those countries that do try to keep job loss from being a death sentence so often drive themselves broke trying to maintain a higher living standard than anybody needs.

          Case in point: Greece. They go to Brussels asking for hand-outs while they pay their pensioners 1700 euro per month. Slovakia says no to funding this Greek extravagance, because they pay their pensioners only 800 euro per month.

          If countries are to stop going broke under the strain of normal unemployment rates, and stop having these ballooning poverty rates every time the economy can’t employ everyone, the only way to do it is to manage expectations. Live within what is possible. It’s not that bad.

          Have you seen those miniature garden summer cabins in Scandinavia? They are probably “inhumane” and “temporary” by the standards above. But they are all that is needed to live a good life, and people have enjoyed them for centuries now.

          That’s my two cents:

          First, we all need to manage our own expectations.

          Second, those who can’t, need to get out of the way of those who can and are. There is no point arrogantly forcing everyone to buy more than they need.

  20. Ramblings says:

    It’s cool when you compared it to a military ship. I know, my bunk was half the size of the capsule and since I was in the middle, I couldn’t even raise hand without touching the bunk atop of me. So suck it people, it is what you make of it.

  21. depressing says:

    let’s see how long she will last

  22. A handbag or purse in American English, is a handled medium-to-large bag that is often fashionably designed:-;

  23. leather handbags are superb, they look good and they are great as gifts too ~’-

  24. Eri says:

    i think it’s fantastic. where is the kitchen though? the only thing i would dislike is hearing my neighbors snoring and farting…what with the open top

  25. excellent submit, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not realize this. You must continue your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

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