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Old May 25th, 2011, 05:40 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2011
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HONG KONG | Blue House Revitalization


"Blue House", situated at 72 Stone Nullah Lane in Wanchai, is a pre-war building with more than seventy years of history that shows architectural characteristics of both Chinese and Western styles. Many of the internal structures like purlin, staircase, railing are still preserved in their authentic wooden fabric. There are still residents living inside and some of them have to share the kitchen. Since there is no flushing toilet facility inside the building, it still needs the service of "Tao Ye Heung" (somebody helps to remove the excrement from the building every night)!

Where does the name of "Blue House" come from?

"Blue House" is a four-storey building, which is named from the brilliant blue colour painted on its external walls. When we come closer to the building, it is not difficult to recognize that not all the external walls are coloured in blue! It was said that the workers of the Lands Department only got blue paint during the period of repairing work, so it was used to renovate the external wall at the time.

Reconstruction or preservation?

Wanchai is one of the districts with the earliest development in Hong Kong. Uptill now, there are still many old buildings and streets which sustain the nostalgic atmosphere in the district. "Blue House" that has a history of about eighty years, can be regarded as a symbol for these historic buildings! Since Wanchai is one of the important sites for urban renewal, what will be the fate of Blue House when facing large-scale redevelopment plan? How to attain a balance between economic development and urban conservation is a big issue that deserves our deep thoughts.

In fact, demolition is not the only fate for buildings with historic significance. Take the Tate Modern Art Gallery as an example, it was transformed from a beer factory to the world largest Art Village. Maybe the adaptive reuse of the historic buildings is one solution for conserving them. By transforming the function of the building, not only its existence and value can be assured, but a new life will also be granted to it.

The fate of "Blue House"

"Blue House" in Wanchai sustains many collective memories of Hong Kong People, it is likely to be turned into a museum that illustrates the lives of Hong Kong people in the past. The St. James Association has already submitted a proposal on how to implement this idea. Under its proposal, "Blue House" will be served as a museum that displays more the 400 pieces of old objects donated by residents living in the district. All display can be regarded as the witnesses on the traditional culture, history and community development for the district. It is suggested that docents of the museum will be composed of residents in the community who will give an introduction on "Blue House", Pak Tai Temple, Mallory Street as well as other cultural spots in Wanchai to youngsters and tourists.

As time changes, old buildings still survive in every city. In some miserable cases, however, the buildings have to be demolished or left abandoned. While others that are lucky enough will be renovated or reconstructed into museums or venues for creation and performances. It is hoped that the "Blue House" can also be turned into a living history museum, which illustrates the perplexing past of Wanchai to the future young generations.

Our reflections

Our project was completed in a rush. We had had the ideas of taking Lee Tung Street or Sun Yat-Sen Historical Trail as the theme of our project at first, but we finally chose "Blue House" because of its special appearance.

Cultural heritage is not only our treasure, but also helps to remind us many memories of the society. It is sometimes regretful that we pass some historic buildings without noticing them. In fact, many buildings of great historic and cultural significance are around us, they all worth our efforts to explore. Although this is not a thorough study, we have learned a lot through the field trip and have recognized the importance of heritage conservation afterwards.
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