The Shifting Demographics of the Serviced Apartment Industry in South East Asia

Hirsh, Max


Article written by DPDF 2008 Urban Visual Studies Fellow Max Hirsh, featured in South East Asia Research, Volume 23, No. 2:

Over the past 30 years, serviced apartment complexes have become one of the defining architectural typologies of Asian urbanization. Relatively unknown before the 1980s, these complexes are designed to accommodate foreign business people, knowledge workers and students for a fixed period, typically three to six months. The rapid expansion of serviced apartments testifies to the substantial increase in the number of people who are working, training and studying outside their home countries, and provides physical evidence of the impact of these short-term populations on the urban fabric of South East Asian cities. Drawing on interviews and fieldwork conducted in Bangkok and Singapore, the paper posits shifts in the design and use of serviced apartments as a useful lens for investigating both the emergence of a geographically mobile middle class and the increase in temporary housing types to meet its residential needs.