By Cailey Rizzo
July 24, 2019
Credit: Getty Images

The geography of Hong Kong consists of more than 250 different islands. And there soon might be even more.

Hong Kong is considering building entirely new artificial islands to combat its housing crisis. City officials are pitching a plan they call “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” that would build an artificial 2,500-acre island. The project may continue with an additional 1,700 acres of land reclamation around another island called Hei Ling Chau.

The plan is named after Lantau, the largest of Hong Kong’s islands, and the island the newer ones will be scattered around.

No American city even begins to compare to the Hong Kong housing crisis. The territory has the world’s most expensive property market, about 40 percent higher than the closest runner-up, Singapore, according to The Economist. Housing on the new artificial islands would be able to accommodate 1.1 million people.

But critics of the “Lantau Tomorrow” plan mention the high price tag (an estimated $63.8 billion), which equates to about half of the city’s fiscal reserves. They also mention concerns about the environmental impact of constructing new land in Hong Kong’s waters. Tom Yam, who is campaigning against the project claims told CityLab that the “narrowing of the passageway to the open sea will create an almost enclosed environment, where water-current movement will be greatly reduced, and oxygen contents of the water slowly depleted."

According to the South China Morning Post, there is a wait of five years and three months to be granted public housing in Hong Kong — the longest it’s been in 18 years.

Don’t expect to be exploring any new, man-made parts of Hong Kong anytime soon. If approved, construction is unlikely to start until at least 2025. The first residents would not be able to move to the new islands until 2032 and the project would not be completed until 2043.

Although the project would likely become one of the most expensive construction projects in world history, there are a few other similar tentative plans. In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah Economic City (built in the middle of the desert) is expected to cost $500 billion upon completion in 2025.