78 year old Huang Rixin, a retired engineer from Beijing, has recently launched an attempt to combat the city’s escalating property prices. Inspired by the Capsule hotels of Japan, Rixin has created eight individual housing units, or ‘Capsule Apartments’ as he has entitled them, at less than 2 sq m each and costing between 250 yuan (24.27) and 350 yuan (33.96) rent per month. The tenants’ basic functions are accommodated, i.e. they can lie down, sit, watch TV and access broadband internet; however, there is very little additional room and all personal belongings must be stored at the foot of or underneath the bed. To put the size issue into perspective, a twin-size mattress is around 0.9m wide, and the Capsule Apartments come at widths of either 0.72m or 0.92.m.
Originally, Rixin designed the capsules to aid college students who had recently graduated and allow them to get a foot on the property ladder. The media attention surrounding the Capsule Apartment development has returned both positive and negative results. After the complex was initially launched, interest was slow, with only a small number of prospective tenants. However, since the widespread media coverage of recent weeks, all eight of the capsules now have full-time occupants. Conversely, the publicity has sparked concern over the health and safety aspects of such constricted living conditions, with critics comparing the units to circus cages or prison cells.