The skyscrapers that dot the city’s picturesque skyline might be the first things tourists marvel at when they come to Hong Kong, but just as iconic are the walk-up tong laus (唐樓) that were the mainstay of local architecture during the territory’s colonial days.
Missing Hong Kong and with a little too much time on her hands thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, Mandy W.—whose parents are from Hong Kong but immigrated to Canada before she was born—decided to build a tong lau in simulation game, The Sims.
The result is a four-floor tenement building complete with hallmark tong lau characteristics: flashy neon signs, potted plants balanced on windowsills and bulging air conditioning units that, even in the virtual world, are probably dripping water on unsuspecting passerbys.
On the Sims Community website, where she uploaded her design, she wrote: “Inspired by the #tonglau buildings of #hongkong, the building mirrors the city’s horribly crammed living spaces. At ground level are some #shops, #cafe, #karaoke, & #arcade.”
Mandy shared pictures of the tong lau with Coconuts.
Like traditional tong laus, the top floors of Mandy’s virtual building is carved into minuscule apartments for residents. The rooms, she notes, are so packed with furniture—much like living spaces in Hong Kong—that it is difficult to take screenshots without distorting the view.
In the bathroom, the showerhead is just inches away from the toilet. And after fitting an electric stove and a microwave in the kitchen, there’s just enough space left for a mini fridge.
On Reddit, many left comments complimenting the minute details of the tong lau and said the design made them feel nostalgic.
“Aww, the flooring reminds me of my grandparents’ place,” one user said.
Even though Mandy was born and raised in Toronto, she says she still views Hong Kong as her home. “I’ve always gone back periodically to visit family and friends, and have strong ties to the culture and language,” she tells Coconuts.
“Following the upsetting news in Hong Kong daily and the desire since last year to visit again finally resulted in building this, the only thing I could do in response.”