Young man builds egg shaped dwelling in Beijing as his home

Dai Haifei (戴海飞), 24 years old form Hunan province, built and placed an egg shaped small house in a courtyard in Beijing, as his home. Inspired by his company’s design, Dai Haifei built the “egg” house with bamboo and it only cost him 6,427 yuan. Now he has been living in it for almost 2 month, rent free. The following is his diary on Douban describing how he builds the egg house.


My father works at a construction site; mother is a cleaner of a company. Now they are older and their physical conditions are not as good as before. I tried many times to convince them to go back home to the countryside to farm a few acres of land to live an easy life, stop running around already. They said they wanted to save money for me to buy a house to get married in. But they don’t know in order to buy a home in Beijing with their salary will take 2-3 hundred years. I want to have a home of my own, no need to be too big, as long as it shelters me from the sun and the rain. Do not want to live like ants in the remote corners of the city, do not want to give hard-earned wages to the landlord, do not want to spend three hours each day on the crowded bus, but facing the reality of high home prices, all hopes are fading.

In 2009 when I was interning for Standard Architecture, I was honored to participate in “egg of the city” (城市下的蛋) design project. “Egg of the city” series includes KTV house (already completed), Bench house (already completed), small shop house, fruit stand house, recycler house, message pallor house, backpackers house… “Egg of the city” series provides movable small homes for struggling group of people in the city, the home is also a tool for them to make a living. The green plants on the surface of the house become urban landscape. After my internship at Standard Architecture, I went back to school to finish up my graduation design, but the idea of building a house for myself was lingering in my mind. After graduation, I talked to my teacher Tang Doudou about my ideas, he was very supportive and found a few friends to help out with my work. Later I also got the finical support from my cousin, then the building work was officially started. Then we used some contractor software to see how we could better design some of the aspects of the house. We worked from July to September for two whole months, not counting labor, material costs are as follows:

Wheels 160
Rope ties 125
Grinder 31
Water tank, pump 95
Steel 573
Drills 18
Bamboo 375
Tools 210
Glue 200
Waterproof fabrics 508
Solar Panels 970
Square rods 30
Screws 115
Paint 284
Welders 260
Spray gun 450
Gauze 600
Insulation 100
Grass seeds 110
Energy-saving lamps 36
Air support 50
Plexiglass 160
Washbasin 60
Steel mesh 240

Total 6427

After the house was built, shipping it from Hunan to Beijing cost 3500 yuan, so with less than ten thousand I got my own house in Beijing.

When the house arrived in Beijing I put it under the building of my company. I already lived in it for over a month. I can get to work within seconds, no need to be on the crowded bus. This is considered a luxury in the traffic congested Beijing. I used the money I saved up from not paying rent to pay for an annual pass of a swimming gym, so I can go swimming, also take showers and go to sauna there. I don’t have a kitchen in the house, so I became a frequent visitor of the local restaurants around work. No need to make meals also saved me a lot of time. In the weekends, I can go the local coffee shops with a book or I can ride my bike around the neighborhood alleys. When the house is simplified to just one bed, other than sleeping in it, other things are taken care of in public places, this is a free lifestyle.

The entire process of making the house on flickr

This design was nominated for the second annual China Architecture Media Awards



“If you don’t pay rent by tomorrow I will throw your stuff on the street”








Media coverage of the story by Beijing News on Netease:

Interview with Beijing News

In the interview, Dai Haifei said his house had been the target of eviction, but because he had no place to move to, eventually they let the matter rest. He had thought about having a real home to get married in, but for now, he enjoys life in an “eggshell”.

Beijing News: How is life after moving into your house?

Dai Haifei: No rent, I don’t need to consider to save money when eating everyday, I also bought an annual pass to a swimming pool. I go swimming after work everyday, then take shower or sauna after. In the weekends, I go walk around in the Beijing city, and hang out with friends.

Beijing News: Your cabin is placed here, will people try to move it away?

Dai Haifei: (Laughs) I was already told to move. The house is placed on the lawn of a courtyard, it is not even the company’s property. Some time ago, property owner came to tell me to move, but I have no place to move to. They could not do anything to me. Now they just let me be.

Beijing News: Have you thought about, one day you go down stairs and your house is moved away, all your possessions are gone?

Dai Haifei: The egg house is a place to sleep, my clothes are under the bed, nothing expensive. (pointed at himself) I only have these, the most expensive thing is the notebook, I leave it at work. (smile)

Beijing News: Your house charges electricity at work, and water is also from your company. Actually your company really supports a lot. Are they considered perks for being close to work?

Dai Haifei: The house doesn’t charge its battery from work, the solar panel charges the battery. My company is very tolerant as for my water and electricity usage, perhaps its part of the benefit. (laughs)

Beijing News: Beijing is so cold in the winter, in this small room you probably are freezing. Before you come here have you thought about such hard life?

Dai Haifei: I did not think so much, in fact, I do not feel very “tough”. The winder in Hunan is worse than Beijing, it’s kind of wet cold. So I think it’s no so bad here, I only sleep here, my blank is thick. I actually woke up last night because it was too hot. My parents also know my life. I called them and told them where I am. They also feel happy that I can save some rent money.

Beijing News: but they also wish you to get married and have children, live in a (real) house right?

Dai Haifei: Yes, they also said I should have a house, find a girlfriend, get married. But they do not know how difficult it is in Beijing. I used to rent, one of those huge rooms divided into many small rooms with wooden boards, only couple square meters cost 8-9 hundred a month. Before I graduated this year when I went home for my graduation design project I had to terminate the lease. They also deducted my deposit for various reasons. It was really helpless. So now I feel free, I don’t think so much any more.




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  1. This egg is for sure a better idea than the “capsule” hotel (as in one of the previous posts here). And if it indeed costs less than 10,000 for one egg – then he actually could start a good business, and earn money for one huge egg for himself 🙂

  2. The incredible inedible egg.

    Reminds me of friends who made their own mini-Gypsy wagon for about $1,500. This is the kind of innovation that we could all use more of.

  3. that’s so awesome, but what about property laws? Is he allowed to place his egg home on public land, or is the land private?

    Here in the USA, his egg-house would have been razed down.

  4. i thinkt he guy is awesome. i personally wouls like t ee where it is. this guy sure knwos the meaning of a hard life in bj but man seeing this topic made me know this guy can get threu anything

      1. i think it won’t be ugly in public place ,actrally it is very interesing poin in the public view , the problem is also i wonderding that he need be move one day coz some reason ..

        But this house could move he will become nomade…
        this maybe the future life style..?

  5. Too bad Chinese housing prices are constantly sky-rocketing… this guy will not be able to survive the cold Beijing winter in the egg, will he?

    In China people aren’t permitted to build shanty towns, as they do in India or other countries. They just get torn down. Low-cost housing, and I don’t mean those hideous concrete boxes that exist all over China, is really lacking in many large cities. It makes me wonder – how long can this go on?

    1. The egg seems to have plenty of layers so if just one of them is decent at insulating his body heat in that small space should be enough to keep the place from sub zero temperatures.

      Low-cost housing exist but the system is rather fucked up. Wealthy people can (and do) scoop them up before middle or low-income families even get aware that they are up for sale.

      1. Also, low cost is a relative term. It really isn’t affordable, unless you have family to help you or money saved. Most people in China buy houses, as I am sure you know – so low cost housing means – in many cases – that you still have to pay tens of thousands. It’s cheaper just to move to the country side, but there isn’t any work there, not the profitable kind anyhow. It’s a tough situation for many people these days. I often thank God that I am not Chinese, though there are many things that I do admire about China and Chinese culture.

    1. Yes, I have the same feelings.

      It’s a good idea for fun, but don’t you think it’s sad when he starts to think of getting a family? The lightness of creative thinking becomes the heaviness of struggling to survive, to have a living place.

      The housing price is around 28,000 rmb(more than $4,000)per square meter, and the average salary for a newly graduated university students is about 2,000 rmb per month. He has to work more than a hundred years to get one.

  6. When it comes to surviving,people tend to be innovative in china.I have seen people buy used bus and remake it into a moving home.Underground constructions are also made in some suburb areas .

    1. I once lived in a converted school bus in the BC Kootenay region while I built my house. It had wood heat and gravity-fed cold running water. I managed comfortably through a Winter where the temperature dropped down to -42C (just about the same value in F). But the hike in and out through 1/2 mile of snow was a bit burdensome.

    1. I agree with you, Mike. He’s proven himself to be resourceful and able to design and build something that is very well-thought out.

  7. Wow for the first time I can say that a Chinese in modern day time actually came out with a cool original thought. This egg thing could actually serve the American pop better that the chinese. It could be marketed as a camping tent. This could change the game for out door activities all over the world.

    1. Or maybe he could .. By changing the produce of the egg , make it more convient then he could get the patent of egg and be rich by the patent

    2. Part of the reigning American mythology involves the perpetuation of the belief in a lack of creativity and resourcefulness on the part of the Chinese. Don’t delude yourself.

      There are over 1.2 billion Chinese, and many of them are quite clever, resourceful and inventive.

      Actually as the number of homeless Americans grows, the concept of the egg house may have wide applicability to those that fall out of the U.S. middle and working classes.

  8. im anti china but I actually hope this 1 takes off. I love it. this guy deserves what ever good is going to happen.

  9. In the civilized world – it’s called being HOMELESS. The guy is squatting on somebodies property with a shack (and with less amenities then most dog houses). He should be scorned not praised.

    1. I have to agree with you – this really is sad. If he could do this on his own property, it might be more respectable.

  10. Are the roof tops of the building he works in flat? Are they strong? lol
    If they can’t “see” it and it isn’t on the sidewalk or in the courtyard…it’s someplace that they can “keep” the egg room – for ‘storage’ purposes….lol

    Just as there are loop holes in almost any deal…so are there loop holes to slip through in life.

    Just an idea for the guy…lol

  11. clearly this guy is very creative and resourceful, unfortunate that he was forced to move.
    with the serious over population of China and the planet, maybe this is an affordable alternative to dangerous and poorly managed and government funded shelters.

  12. Dear Chinese citizens everywhere,

    As an honor to Korean Guy, let’s cheer for our decades of friendship with NK. Where we will continue providing financial support for the Dear Leader and his well known interests of serving his 20 million people 🙂

  13. Wow! Its awesome. You have Done a great job its beautiful creation I love it. I Hope one day I be there. You can have great future in construction

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