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Old May 6th, 2009, 06:44 AM   #201
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Colleges eye government's heritage scheme to satisfy expansion needs
6 May 2009
South China Morning Post

The Academy for Performing Arts and the Institute of Education are eyeing the government's heritage revitalisation scheme as a way of meeting their expansion needs.

Representatives from the two institutions attended a public forum held by the Development Bureau yesterday to brief interested organisations about part two of the scheme to be launched next month.

Academy associate director Philip Soden said he wanted to know about the eligibility of the institution, as a government-subsidised body, to take part in the scheme, which is aimed at NGOs. "At this stage we're not contemplating applying for any of the buildings currently on offer, but we remain interested to see what may become available in future," Mr Soden said after the forum.

An academy spokeswoman said later that the school needed more space because its Wan Chai campus was too small for its more than 4,000 full-time and part-time students.

Among its needs was a building with more headroom for its dance school and one that could readily be fitted with acoustic installations for the music school.

The academy already has an interest in built heritage, having transformed the former French Mission building Bethanie in Pok Fu Lam into a school of film and television in 2007.

Michael Robinson, Institute of Education librarian and director of its museum of education, said the institute wanted to study the feasibility of using the scheme for its off-campus expansion plan. He did not say which building it was interested in.

The scheme will soon release a second batch of heritage buildings after six historic buildings were leased to NGOs for revitalisation. Officials said at the forum they would give more help to participants in compiling a financial plan, the toughest and most poorly done part in the last round of applications.

Charles Chan Chi-kong of the Young Women's Christian Association urged officials to allow participants more time to seek professionals' help, as "we do not have in-house ones as developers or hotel operators do". The YWCA was beaten by an NGO set up by developer Sino Land in bidding for the Old Tai O Police Station.

Five historic buildings have been earmarked for the second batch, including the Blue House cluster in Wan Chai, the former Fanling Magistracy, the stone houses of Kowloon City's Hau Wong Temple New Village, Old Tai Po Police Station, and the Old House at Wong Uk Village in Sha Tin, the only declared monument to be put into the scheme.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 08:23 PM   #202
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Owners raise the roof at The Pawn after reaching deal on terrace
8 May 2009
South China Morning Post



Despite the recent wrangling about the third-floor terrace being public space, the three proprietors of The Pawn decided to host a grand private dinner at the Wan Chai venue on Wednesday night, followed by a party that spread out over the entire building, to celebrate the establishment's first anniversary.

It's been a headache for Press Room Group partners Arnold Wong (left), Paulo Pong Kin-yee and Alan Lo to sort out with the Urban Renewal Authority the legalese and operating rights of the old Johnston Road heritage building, which they have turned into a hip British pub food restaurant and bar. But Wednesday's bash was an unabashed success.

"It's all been sorted out," Mr Pong said. "It's now a sort of private-public space. It's open to the public from 9am to 6pm each day, but at night it's available for booking {hellip} Working with the government isn't easy. It's just one of those things where, because it's a heritage site, they had to have some public access space." And Mr Wong said members of the public don't always treat the space with respect. "Every day, there are these guys and old ladies who go up there to eat their lunch, and then they just toss their takeout boxes and garbage everywhere, which our staff then have to go clean up. Who does that benefit?"
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 01:30 PM   #203
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Five bishops reburied in `family house'
29 May 2009
Hong Kong Standard

Five bishops who served and died in Hong Kong have been exhumed and reburied in a special crypt built at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral on Caine Road.

The cathedral had to seek special permission for the project since it is a Grade I historic building built in 1888.

The crypt was completed recently and a ceremony marking the new resting place for the five bishops was held in March, led by Bishop John Tong Hon.

The idea for the crypt had come from just-retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun who saw it as a symbolic move to inherit the teachings of previous generations in order to inspire future ones, said Father Thomas Law Kwok-fai, chairman of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocesan Liturgy Commission.

``It's respect to ancestors. It can also help us to inspire future actions,'' Law told Sing Tao Daily, a sister publication of The Standard.

``The cathedral is the center of the diocese. This idea is similar to the family house in Chinese tradition.''

The five bishops were Timoleone Raimondi, Dominic Pozzoni, Enrico Valtorta, Francis Hsu Chen-ping and Peter Lei Wang-kei. The remains of Bishop Lorenzo Bianchi and Cardinal John Wu Cheng-chung, who spent years serving Hong Kong, will be moved to the crypt later.

Bianchi was buried in Milan. The diocese has applied to get back a part of his remains and received a positive response, Law said.

Anna Kwong Sum-yee, an architect who assisted in designing the crypt, said the work needed approval from the Buildings Department.

She said its location was below an ancient altar, which was removed and relocated piece by piece to avoid any damage.

The cathedral is ranked eighth in the latest list of Grade I historic buildings, according to the Antiquities and Monuments Office.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #204
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Bid to sell mansion parts criticised
4 June 2009
South China Morning Post

The public should ignore an online offer to sell parts detached from the historic King Yin Lei mansion for millions of dollars, the Development Bureau says.

The internet sale was posted by a contractor hired to deface the Stubbs Road mansion two years ago. The bureau urged the contractor, Leung Tao-hang, to donate the parts to help restore the monument.

It also maintained that no public money would be spent to buy the parts. "Although recovery of the parts of the King Yin Lei may assist the comprehensive restoration works, we consider the principle and spirit of heritage conservation should not be compromised," a spokesman said.

"We strongly disagree with any public trading of those parts {hellip} as this would have an undesirable effect on our heritage work in future."

Mr Leung, who took the parts before the mansion was declared a monument, said he would soon "destroy the items in public", criticising officials for failing to take responsibility. "If they won't buy it, so be it. I'm only a small contractor, I've done my best to preserve the materials for you," he said.

He offered on the Yahoo auction website last week to sell about 100 wooden doors, window frames and screens for HK$5 million.

Yahoo cancelled his auction yesterday because he posted his mobile-phone number, which would have allowed buyers and sellers to trade offline and leave no correspondence online - a necessary measure for police to investigate transactions.

The bureau spokesman said representatives of the mansion's former owner had met Mr Leung several times but reached no agreement. He said the parts "have a relatively short history" and should not significantly affect the heritage value.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 05:02 PM   #205
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Young form the vanguard in bid to save the past
10 June 2009
The Standard

As chairman of the advisory committee on the revitalization of historic buildings, I have had to help make some difficult and controversial decisions _ like which applicant should be allowed to reuse the former North Kowloon courthouse.

Some other recent decisions were also difficult, for instance, choosing the winners of a children's art competition.

The children -divided into junior and senior age groups - were asked to paint either Liu Man Shek Tong ancestral hall in Sheung Shui or the old Central police station on Hollywood Road.

The four best paintings from each group have been made into postcards, of which about 300,000 will be sent to all 1,372 primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong.

It was a tough choosing the winners because many of our children have real talent.

We laid out hundreds of entries on the floor and on walls for judging. Some of them captured the character of the buildings through draftsmanship and attention to detail, while others interpreted the shapes and colours in eye- catching ways.

The postcards will also be posted free to local, mainland, and overseas recipients to mark National Cultural Heritage Day.

It is only in the last few years that interest in Hong Kong's heritage has caught the interest of the general community, and it is mostly young people, rather than older folk who are more keen to preserve our heritage.

Hopefully, the cards will encourage students to think a bit about our heritage and maybe inspire them to get into art.

Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old June 14th, 2009, 07:50 PM   #206
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Renovation of magistracy building to start in autumn
13 June 2009
South China Morning Post

The renovation of the former North Kowloon Magistracy building is expected to begin in the autumn and will make as few changes as possible to the structure, says an expert with the American arts college that was awarded tenancy of the historic building.

Savannah College of Art and Design's preservation specialist Bob Dickensheets, who moved to Hong Kong two months ago, said the heritage impact assessment of the building had begun and he expected it to be completed soon. The college will open next year.

Mr Dickensheets said the assessment would lay down specifications on meeting Development Bureau requirements, and give suggestions "on ways to keep history alive". After the assessment was completed and followed by other studies, including those on engineering and fire safety, the college would be given approval to start the renovation project in October, he said.

The renovation would go through the same procedures that applied to similar projects in Hong Kong, he said, including going through the Antiquities and Monuments Office and Antiquities Advisory Board, and would be completed before the college opened.

The college has earned a reputation for conservation through restoring more than 70 historic buildings for its campuses in the United States and France.

Mr Dickensheets expected the former court building to be less complicated than work on much older buildings, adding that the building had been well maintained and was in good condition.

Despite the need to convert the building to house eight computer laboratories, 14 classrooms, three studios, a darkroom, a small workshop, gallery space, a library and administrative offices, Mr Dickensheets said as few changes as possible would be made. Items such as seats, benches and tables would be preserved, he said. When building a studio, instead of knocking down or damaging the walls, a curtain made of soundproofing materials would be placed around the walls.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 05:49 PM   #207
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As China destroys its culture, Hong Kong proves that its people care
To those in power in Beijing, demolition is potency and rebuilding is glory.
But don't assume this is a national view

29 May 2009
The Guardian

The west's admiration for China's rush for wealth is becoming like the left's interwar praise for Stalin's Soviet Union. It is a triumph of materialism over humanity. If there is one place on earth I have long wanted to visit, it is old Kashgar, fulcrum of the silk road, Peter Fleming's "oasis of civilisation" hovering between the Pamir mountains and the Taklamakan desert. It was used for the Afghan movie The Kite Runner, Nato having rendered the real location, Kabul, too dangerous for filming. Now the old city is to be systematically demolished. The steamroller of destruction that is China's rush for wealth is claiming yet another casualty for world culture.

Reports from Beijing indicate that 65,000 houses, dating in layers back over two millennia, are decrepit and at risk from earthquakes. They will be cleared and their native Uighur inhabitants forcibly removed from the maze of alleys, mud-brick walls, courtyard houses and 40 mosques to new estates five miles from the city. Already the city walls and moat have gone. Now the old city itself is coming down, with only a zone to be rebuilt "in Uighur style" for the million tourists who visit Kashgar in search of silk road romance. They will be shown what a local official calls "an international heritage scenery".

Kashgar was deliberately omitted from Beijing's list of candidates for world heritage status. As in Tibet's Lhasa, Han Chinese are expected to replace the original Uighur citizens in the new city. The message is that minorities will not only have their political aspirations repressed but their cultural inheritance wiped out as well. The Washington Post quoted a bold Beijing architectural professor, Wu Dianting, to commend the old mud buildings of Kashgar and warn that "if they are torn down their affiliated culture is destroyed".

Western lobbyists rightly championed civil rights in China during the brief (and mostly sycophantic) period of the Olympics, to scant obvious effect. It is tempting to say that civil rights command headlines, but cultural heritage - where foreign pressure can sometimes shame a regime into caution - goes by the board. The monuments of the silk road, their oases, caravanserais, bazaars and towns, were not just memorials of old Asia but of Europe and Asia combined, a true entrepot of civilisations.

Visiting Chengdu in Sichuan in 1982, I was taken to see how the authorities were bulldozing the last remaining sector of "rice-paper houses", an ancient area of delicate overhanging properties and courts with persimmon-lined streets, kept immaculate by residents for whom house and communal street were one living space. Desperate people were frantically packing their belongings in advance of the invader.

I pathetically pleaded with my guides to stop, if only because they were destroying what would one day be a tourist jewel of the city. They seemed utterly mystified, as might Romania's dictator, Ceausescu, to pleas for the salvation of old Bucharest or, I suppose, the Greater London Council to pleas to save Covent Garden. To those in power, old is always past and new is always good. Demolition is potency and rebuilding is glory.

To prepare for the obscenity of extravagant chauvinism that is the Olympics, the Chinese promised the International Olympic Committee that they would spend $30bn redesigning an entire quarter of Beijing and build a dozen pavilions and a new thoroughfare, Jinbao Avenue. The avenue alone consumed 55 acres and evaporated the homes of 2,100 families.

According to the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, some 1.25 million people were evicted to make way for the 2008 Olympics, a devastation chronicled in Michael Meyer's moving new book, The Last Days of Old Beijing. This astonishing clearance was bigger even than Mao's extension of Tiananmen Square to create a desert of tarmac for the ritual glorification of his regime. Tony Blair viewed the Olympics in much the same light.

The common accusation from those who shrug shoulders at the overseas destruction of historic buildings is that it reflects a civilisation that does not care. Commenting on the cultural poverty of Hong Kong, the writer Jan Morris could dismiss it as a "dismally philistine colony". Chinese people are charged not only with a lack of concern for human rights but with a dismissive view of their past. They care nothing for art.

This may be true of all societies at some time in their emergence from poverty. Yet it is one thing to want one's house repaired, plumbed and electrified, quite another to see superior authority arrive with a bulldozer and architect in tow and, without a word, destroy house, neighbourhood and civic identity in one fell swoop.

I have never believed that Chinese people are any different from others in their concern for the past. Westerners just say so. Much of the campaign to draw attention to the fate of Kashgar has been led by conservationists in Beijing, whose safety I respect by not naming them. But it is noticeable that in the freer climate of Hong Kong it is Chinese who are teaching a lesson in heritage to the British who so shockingly ignored it when ruling the place.

Long ago I pleaded with such Hong Kong governors as Sir David Wilson and Lord Patten that, if they bequeathed nothing else, at least install the British law protecting historic buildings without compensation. Each told me that there was no point. The Chinese cared only for money and would overturn any such designation for corrupt profit.

Two weeks ago I visited heritage sites in Hong Kong now being meticulously protected by the local Chinese government - including such relics of British rule as the central prison, the Tai O police station and Kowloon magistrates court. Old shop-houses and early council flats are being restored for new uses. The dynamic development secretary, Connie Lam, has heritage in her official title and declares emphatically that heritage, tourism and development are of the same coin. Where in Britain will you see that?

Most remarkable is the central police station, a great colonial survival left derelict and doomed by Britain. This rambling warren of barracks, cells, prisons and courtyards lies in the shadow of mighty skyscrapers as if abandoned overnight. Giant woks lie idle in the kitchens. Rows of plastic scissors adorn the wall in the women's prison workshop. Racks mourn for their rifles, stables for their horses. Trees still shade the parade ground.

The council houses are to be youth hostels, and Kowloon magistracy an American college. Plans are afoot to reopen the central police station as possibly a museum, hotel or apartments. What the British would have demolished, as they tore down the Victoria Barracks and the Repulse Bay Hotel, the Chinese are trying to save.

Sensitivity to the past is not some western foible, nor is it a barrier to economic growth. It is a response to what should be the civilising force of wealth and, in a leisure economy, a source of further wealth. Thousands of Hong Kong people demonstrated against the demolition of the old Star ferry terminal. They can be sure to support the saving of what few relics of the colonial past remain. It is not the right culture these places need, just the right politics.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 10:04 AM   #208
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Saving heritage buildings requires mix of solutions
17 June 2009
South China Morning Post

As Hong Kong's streetscape and characteristic buildings get swallowed up by concrete and glass, some people are looking for ways to preserve the city's cultural heritage.

The government maintains a list of hundreds of "graded" heritage buildings in three classifications, although only a few (those that are declared "monuments" or "proposed monuments") are actually protected.

Grade 1 heritage buildings may be declared "proposed monuments" on an emergency basis to prevent irreparable destruction, and the government has taken this step for the King Yin Lei Mansion on Stubbs Road. But it is not required to protect every graded building that is threatened with destruction.

When monument or proposed monument status is conferred on a site, a compensation process begins and the government will generally become responsible for the monument's upkeep. This naturally dampens its enthusiasm to award monument status.

The government also has to find a use for the buildings it protects and preservationists must acknowledge that there is a limit to the number of small museums and organisations that can be housed in old buildings in a relatively unrenovated state. Many heritage buildings can be best protected, at least in part, by remaining in private hands and incorporating changes that preserve key features.

One solution is to require current owners to preserve graded heritage buildings to preservation standards to be set by the government. But many owners are not wealthy, and it seems unfair to ask them to bear the whole financial burden of cultural preservation for the benefit of all of us.

Other cities have found a way to preserve historic buildings by selling "air rights" without spending huge enormous public funds or depriving owners of substantially all the development value in their property.

There are lessons for Hong Kong in this practice, but it has to be adapted to the city's peculiar real estate framework.

The idea of selling "air rights" comes from a Roman concept that "to whoever owns the land shall belong the earth to its centre and up to the heavens".

The principle has been limited in modern legal systems. Often, the state retains the right to all minerals underground, as in China. Similarly, so that airplanes are not "trespassing" as they pass over every house, most governments have appropriated to themselves all aviation rights.

Height restrictions in zoning laws also cut into the ancient concept of land ownership, and common law courts, including those in Hong Kong, have held that imposing height restrictions does not require governments to pay compensation unless the property owner is deprived of substantially all use value of his property.

Railways in the United States first noticed the value of the airspace over their land. They sold rights to build buildings over railway tracks - most infamously to New Yorkers, the PanAm Building (now the Metlife Building) that was built next to Grand Central Station and "ruined" the vista up Park Avenue.

Later, the imposition of height restrictions in zoning laws stimulated the expansion of the "selling air" concept into a heritage preservation tool: local governments allowed owners of recognised heritage buildings to sell their "rights" to build up to the maximum height restriction to the developers of neighbourhood buildings who would then be given a height-restriction variance and be permitted to build higher than the zoning plan would otherwise have allowed.

As part of the transaction, the owner of the heritage building is required to preserve it, either by the terms of a heritage preservation law or by special covenants.

Funds from selling development rights both compensate the owner for forgoing a development opportunity and finance the owner's restoration or preservation obligations. The development rights can only be sold once, but this is considered fair as future owners will buy knowing that there is no development potential and will price the transaction accordingly.

Clearly, the existence of transferable air rights is closely connected to height restrictions in zoning plans. The concept makes no sense where building heights are unrestricted, as a developer will not pay for "air" it already owns.

A second requirement is a heritage preservation law. The ability to transfer air rights must be closely tied to preservation undertakings: the object will be defeated if the owner is permitted to sell the air rights then goes ahead and damages or replaces the heritage building.

Hong Kong increasingly has zoning plans with height restrictions. It does not, however, have the second necessary component: a heritage preservation law that protects all graded buildings and establishes processes for allowing necessary modifications to them.

Because of Hong Kong's land-use system, owners of heritage buildings may not have "air rights" (or other "rights" to develop), so the government will have to take steps to create them.

A fair system may award a minimum "air right" to every building that is given heritage status, perhaps allocating more rights to higher-graded heritage buildings. In Hong Kong, the nearest equivalent to an "air right" is a right to develop a certain amount of gross floor area.

The other piece of the puzzle is that developers have to buy the development rights and the government has to issue variances from development restrictions on non-heritage lots to allow them to use the rights. The idea of granting developers "excess gross floor area" in exchange for creating social benefits is not new to Hong Kong.

The model that has been used for "green building features" and "public areas", whereby a developer who undertakes to provide these features is awarded additional gross floor area can be adapted to preservation. Here, however, the developer will be required to buy the excess gross floor area instead of obtaining it for free, and the money will compensate owners of heritage buildings for preserving their buildings and forgoing redevelopment.

Clearly, this model, although self-funding, is not without public cost. The government must forgo the revenue it can achieve by selling the development rights itself. But if preservation of our heritage is a public good, it is appropriate that the cost be shared among all of us.

Next week's continuation of this two-part article considers how to make this solution to Hong Kong's preservation conundrum work for all stakeholders.

Fiona Connell is a consultant of Minter Ellison Lawyers
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Old July 5th, 2009, 10:47 AM   #209
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US arts college eager to hire locals American institution seeks to employ Hongkongers on staff of 60
13 June 2009
South China Morning Post

The American arts college awarded tenancy of the historic North Kowloon Magistracy says it hopes to recruit local teaching and administrative staff for the opening of its first Asian branch next autumn.

Savannah College of Art and Design, which will convert the historic building into a campus for its Hong Kong branch, will begin with about 60 staff members, including 25 faculty members, college senior management said.

Savannah chief academic officer Tom Fischer said recruitment of teaching staff had not yet begun, but faculty members at campuses in Savannah and Atlanta in the US, and Lacoste in the south of France had expressed overwhelming interest in teaching in Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong is a great attraction because everyone knows that Hong Kong is looking into developing a creative economy," Mr Fischer said, adding that many teaching staff members had previously worked in Hong Kong and hoped to return.

Mr Fischer said that once the curriculum was approved by the Education and Manpower Bureau, the college would officially begin a search for teaching staff, and it was hoped some would be found in Hong Kong.

He said the Hong Kong curriculum would match those at other campuses. He said cultural factors would be important and that staff with Asian backgrounds, particularly those with a good knowledge of Hong Kong, would be welcome.

Savannah executive director of strategic initiatives John Rowan said a ratio between local and overseas staff members had yet to be set, but he hoped there would be as many Hong Kong members of staff as possible.

During its first year, the Savannah College of Art and Design will offer eight majors: animation; advertising design; graphic design; illustration; interactive design and game development; motion media design; photography; and visual effects. The college will also offer sound design as a minor.

Mr Fischer said recruitment of students had not begun, but he expected the numbers would be relatively small, with class sizes no larger than 20. He was confident that the college would attract students from throughout the region as the majority of the college's international students, accounting for more than 20 per cent of its graduate programmes, were north Asians.

He expected that other than traditional courses such as graphic design, digital media-related courses would be popular.

"The future of animation and film is not in Hollywood but here," Mr Fischer said, adding it was hoped that such courses would prepare students to enter the movie industry.

He said students' works were promoted through events such as the college's first community photo exhibition, Silver & Ink, of creations from the past academic year, which would end at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre in Shek Kip Mei on June 21.

Overseas students will have to rent their own accommodation rather than live on campus during the first years of the Hong Kong college. Mr Rowan said the college would help students find budget apartments if required.

Future possibilities included collaboration with nearby Mei Ho House, which could become a Youth Hostels Association lodging under the revitalisation scheme. But nothing had been decided.

The awarding of a historic building to a foreign institute stirred controversy when the news was announced in February.

Mr Rowan said that since the college had registered as a non-profit-making NGO, its operation would be monitored just like other non-governmental organisations. Tuition fees at the college would be US$27,000.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #210
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Concern at delays, changes to project on historic site
District council, antiquities board kept in dark on progress

14 April 2009
South China Morning Post

In the third of a series investigating the shortcomings of the city's heritage preservation, Joyce Ng checks progress on a historic site controversially granted in 2005 to a private organisation, which has been criticised for delays and a lack of transparency

The community remains in the dark about progress on refurbishing the remnants of Victoria Barracks, a half-year after it was supposed to have opened and about six months before the revised opening date.

Critics say the situation of the former explosives magazine site in Admiralty shows that standard measures are needed to monitor heritage sites handed over to private bodies for long-term use.

The grade-one-listed building was granted without a tender procedure to the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre in 2005 for 21 years to develop a museum, lecture hall and performance venue.

The land lease required it to open in September last year, but the centre won permission to postpone the opening to September this year.

Although work has started, the master layout plan is not yet available for public inspection because it was amended by the society late last year and is awaiting approval by the Lands Department. Even antiquities advisers and the local district council are in the dark.

A department spokeswoman said it would continue to monitor construction progress, and might consider a further extension if work progress was satisfactory. It would not penalise the non-governmental organisation for the delay.

In reply to questions from the Post, the centre's interim executive director, Lo Li-ping, said the delay was due to major design changes.

These included modifications to a footbridge to preserve a green belt and a population of bats, and a decision to place mechanical equipment underground to preserve buildings. Termites and the discovery of four cannons added to the workload.

She said a consultation group would be formed closer to the soft opening in the third or fourth quarter of this year. It would meet the Central and Western district council annually to advise on public participation in activities at the centre.

The government was criticised for lacking transparency when it handed over the 7,800 square metre site - on Justice Drive, near the British consulate - to the society for HK$1,000.

Antiquities Advisory Board member Ng Cho-nam said the board had been told nothing about progress since the site was granted.

"The government has the duty to inform us, and there should be plans to show us how they changed the plan," Dr Ng said.

Members of the Central and Western district council also complain they have not heard details of any changes.

"I wonder why it has not opened and how the building plan has been changed. They need to talk to us," council vice-chairman Stephen Chan Chit-kwai said.

Councillor and lawmaker Kam Nai-wai, of the Democratic Party, said the government, when granting heritage sites for more than 10 years, should require annual financial and conservation reports, and a management committee, to ensure projects were properly monitored.

Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said the government should lay down all conditions in the lease, including an enforcement procedure for delays.

Public heritage sites allocated on a long-term basis or due to be allocated soon include Haw Par Mansion for a wine business; the King Yin Lei mansion in Stubbs Road for a commercial venture; the former police married quarters on Hollywood Road for creative industries; and the Central Police Station compound, already handed over to the Jockey Club.

The Asia Society was founded in the United States in 1956 to bridge American and Asian culture. It has extensive international connections with political and business figures, with Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan Chi-chung as vice-chairman of its board.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #211
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Opinion : Tsang has selective memory when it comes to heritage sites
8 July 2009
South China Morning Post

In a speech last month at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said that, as a child, historic parts of Central had been his "backyard" playground.

He omitted to mention that this backyard is vanishing.

Mr Tsang talked fondly about the Hollywood Road police quarters and Central Police Station, but made no mention of Graham Street Market and Staunton Street, historic pockets of old Central which now face the Urban Renewal Authority's wrecking ball. These old neighbourhoods will become high-rise towers and fake old streets. And what about the Star Ferry clock tower, so widely loved by Hong Kong people? It was destroyed on the chief executive's orders 2½ years ago.

When asked by John Batten, a convener of the Central and Western Concern Group, why these places cannot be saved, Mr Tsang said they had to be redeveloped and revitalised.

The Graham Street Market has been extremely vibrant, affected only by the URA's property resumption which took away the residents who used to be the market's key customers. The market continues to serve many people who live in the surrounding areas and those who shop after work in Central. But Mr Tsang does not feel there is a problem when he approves a plan for four gigantic towers to be built on top of the market.

Historic parts of the city need special care so their original flavour and ambience are preserved. A conservation project requires sensitivity on the part of those in charge to preserve the soul of the place. Unfortunately, our government still has not managed to grasp this.

A price tag is put on every possible space in our city. When the government and the URA talk about their redevelopment projects, it is how much they will earn that matters. Look at the Lee Tung Street project ("HK$6b bid wins Wedding Card St", June 24).

I strongly believe there is a better solution for regenerating our historic areas. Many concerned members of the public have spoken and it is time for our government to listen and stop the destruction.

Katty Law, Central
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Old July 8th, 2009, 07:56 PM   #212
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London school has designs on Hong Kong
29 June 2009
The Standard

Renowned London design school Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design will introduce courses in Hong Kong soon, Secretary for Commerce and Economic development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said.

Head of School Jane Rapley introduced Lau to the school when she visited London over the weekend to get ideas about developing local creative industries.

``It is essential for artists and designers to have some business sense,'' she told Sing Tao Daily, the sister paper of The Standard.

The school will introduce financial and management master's degree courses in cooperation with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Fashion designers Paul Smith, John Galliano, Stella McCartney, Katharine Hamnett went there.

Lau said Hong Kong can take pride in its initiatives to house creative industries in historic buildings like the Central Police Station Complex and other old industrial buildings.

Lau also visited the high-end Borough Market, which sells fine foods from around the world.

The market is run by a non- government body in buildings which were designed in 1851.

She also visited Channel 4, a TV station which promotes art.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen defended the government's role in promoting what he called six priority industries.

These include creative, educational, medical and environmental fields.

Tsang said a new mindset, approach and a coherent strategy are needed to tackle obstacles that may hinder the development of these industries.
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Old July 9th, 2009, 01:19 PM   #213
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New venues mulled for Sunbeam
9 July 2009
The Standard

A community hall in North Point may be considered as a venue for Cantonese opera performances once the Sunbeam Theatre closes.

The suggestion came as the Legco home affairs panel urged the government to preserve the theater, given its history and role in the development of Cantonese opera.

A Home Affairs Bureau spokeswoman said the authorities had been actively considering alternative venues after the landlord of the Sunbeam premises said he would not sell the property or renew the lease beyond February 2012.

Also under consideration is Chan Shu Kui Community Hall in North Point and a basketball court next to it.

Chan Shu Kui would be acceptable so long as it undergoes some renovations, said Ting Yu, Cantonese Opera Academy of Hong Kong chief executive. ``Cantonese opera troupes may not be rich enough to buy and preserve the Sunbeam Theatre but we also realize some may have reservations on using public money to buy it.''

Despite facilities being available at Ko Shan Theatre and the future West Kowloon Cultural District, Ting said it was necessary to have a Cantonese opera theater on Hong Kong island.

Eastern District Councillor Christopher Chung Shu-kun, a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, had reservations about preserving the theater. ``I doubt the intention of lawmakers who made such suggestions. It's public money. The theatre only has 37 years of history. Why didn't we preserve Lee Theatre if there are heritage considerations?''

The Democratic Party's Kam Nai-wai, a home affairs panel member, said the government could earn revenue by ``leasing part of the premises'' if it did buy the theater.
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Old July 11th, 2009, 06:19 AM   #214
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Historic buildings consultation to end on July 31
Friday, July 10, 2009
Government Press Release

The public consultation on the proposed gradings of the 1,444 historic buildings will end on July 31.

A spokesman for the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) today (July 10) urged people to take this opportunity to submit their views on the proposed gradings or provide additional information in relation to any of the historic buildings.

The public consultation started when the list of 1,444 historic buildings was announced on March 19. Consultation sessions with the 18 District Councils organised by the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) started in June and the AAB has so far met 12 District Councils to collect their views. Another two consultation sessions for the remaining six District Councils will be held in the coming two weeks.

The Antiquities and Monuments Office has received about 250 public submissions on the 1,444 buildings.

"After a preliminary vetting of the submissions and enquiries collected, the Antiquities and Monuments Office will have the information referred to the Expert Panel, which was formed in 2005 to undertake an in-depth assessment of the heritage value of the historic buildings, for review. There is the possibility that grading adjustments and addition of new buildings to the list will be made," the spokesman said.

He said the AAB expected to finalise the grading exercise by the end of this year.

The list of the 1,444 historic buildings along with their photos, brief introductions and assessments are now available on AMO's website at www.amo.gov.hk for public access. Those who wish to access detailed information of these buildings are welcome to approach the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre by calling 2208 4400 to make their requests.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 08:31 PM   #215
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Marine Police HQ Restoration - by horry88 from dchome :

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Old July 14th, 2009, 02:27 PM   #216
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Gorgeous.

Are they still planning to convert it into a hotel?
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Old July 17th, 2009, 05:15 AM   #217
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Common good: in praise of the urban landscape
14 July 2009
SCMP

The brown leather Chesterfield sits incongruously amid the parked buses, concrete paving and grey metal railings at the Tai Hang bus terminus. In the afternoon heat, a cat stretches over the length of the sofa but after sunset it is where bus drivers and passers-by sit and relax.

This kind of improvised street furniture is what arts writer and heritage activist John Batten calls vernacular or "nonchalant" art, an umbrella term for the everyday objects, street life and informal interventions in public spaces that are close to the heart of this city's character.

"Hong Kong is a place that's open to free expression, which is reflected in the clutter of our public spaces, our footbridges and ferry forecourts," says Batten. "All of these bits of vernacular art and architecture are part of who we are. People overlook [such] simple things. But if you take them away, what are you left with?"

This Saturday, in an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of these "bits of urban vernacular", Batten will explore the unique aesthetic of the city's public spaces with "Hong Kong's Street Art: Signage, Advertising, Architecture and Public Space", a lecture that forms part of the University of Hong Kong's Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities.

As commonplace as market stalls, street art and drying laundry might seem, Batten says they reflect and define Hong Kong's urban identity. Once you start looking, you see it everywhere, he says, and people have made slight adjustments to the environment to benefit others.

"Where I live [in Sheung Wan] there's a long staircase and old people are exhausted when they get to the top. So over the years they've put chairs on the staircase, and they shave down the legs so that the chairs can sit straight on the slope," says Batten. Such impromptu interventions in public spaces are common here, he says. Photographer Tse Ming-chong, whose work often deals with the urban landscape, agrees that Hongkongers have a particularly close relationship with the city's public spaces, something he has often captured in his images.

"Because there are so many people living here and houses are small, I see a lot of people converting public space into their own private space," he says.

"People are doing intimate things in public spaces. When you put a chair in a public area, that converts it into a more private environment, which leads to closer relationships than you would expect in public. That's one very strong aspect of life in Hong Kong, especially compared to Europe or the US."

Adapted from a slide show that he often shows as a guest lecturer to students at the Hong Kong Art School, Batten's presentation at the University of Hong Kong focuses on everything from pawn shop signs to graffiti.

Batten says much of Hong Kong's vernacular art has emerged from the way that people have adapted to the city's "often brutal" landscape.

Residents and shop owners on the treeless streets of Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun, for instance, compensate for the lack of greenery by putting their own potted plants on the pavement.

Throughout the city, barbers, watch repairmen and booksellers work out of tiny stalls in alleyways. Pointing to a photo of a doorway in the Wan Chai street market that has been transformed into a makeshift fruit stand, Batten says: "You can do whatever you like on these streets. There's no one to stop you." (However, that freedom was challenged yesterday when French graffiti artist Zevs was arrested after "liquidating" a dripping Chanel logo on the facade of the frontage of Chater House's Armani store.)

Another photo shows a produce stand erected in front of an old shop shutter on which laundry is drying. "There's a certain casualness. I love that. There's a beauty there, in the patina on the old folding doors, the baskets of produce."

But it's more than just unconventional beauty - it's an expression of local culture. Graffiti, stickers and stencils are ways that people engage with their environment, says Batten, who points to the lanes around Times Square as being a particularly fertile ground for street art.

Along with paste-ups from prolific artists such as Start from Zero, there are poignant political messages such as the stencil drawing of tanks, accompanied by lyrics from a pop song - "

"This is our heritage," says Howard Chan Pui-hoe, art curator of the Community Museum Project, a non-profit organisation that documents the visual culture of Hong Kong's public life.

"People always find a way to get around all the rules and regulations of public spaces. For example, [in old areas], craftsmen use part of the pavement for their work. Normally, there's a kind of silent agreement between them and the people who use the rest of the pavement. But we don't see this kind of thing happening in newly built housing estates.

"Right now, public space is overregulated. It's being gentrified to an extreme extent."

Indeed, as much as Batten hopes to draw attention to the art of the everyday he worries that many urban renewal projects and property developments neglect the street life that gives Hong Kong its character.

"When a property developer takes over a block of land, they're usually doing something with a podium, where people walk around three or four storeys above street level," he says.

"On the ground level, it becomes a very controlled environment. Now there's just one owner, rather than many owners and individual shops. Suddenly there's nothing there. You'll see security guards and signs saying 'Do not poster'. The consolidation of property in Hong Kong is leading to a degradation of the visual streetscape. We're losing our ground-level happiness."

Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang, currently working on a Broadway musical about the life of Bruce Lee, opened the event yesterday with a lecture on interculturalism, identity and the world's perception of the mainland and Chinese men.

Musical highlights include anime theme songs by a Japanese girl group, a performance by the Pembroke College Chapel Choir and a guqin recital.

Live jazz performances will be held every Tuesday evening in HKU's Global Lounge, while traditional Chinese and Korean music will be performed every Wednesday afternoon in the T.T. Tsui Gallery. To round things off in a suitably global manner,

"Cross-Rhythms" will feature a mixture of local and international percussion masters playing Korean, African and fusion music.

Admission is free to all events, but advance registration is required for most.
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Old July 20th, 2009, 07:07 PM   #218
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1881 Heritage
May 1



































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Old July 21st, 2009, 09:04 PM   #219
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新焦點:卡地亞進駐 1881 Heritage
20 July 2009
文匯報 (香港)

近年,香港的保育議題甚為人關注,最好能在保留古建築物的同時,也達到一定的經濟效益。位於尖沙咀廣東道的1881 Heritage,前身是水警總部,現今已活化為消閒購物的地方,並由多個著名品牌進駐,包括舉世知名的珠寶與腕錶品牌卡地亞。

新店是品牌在港的第9間精品店,雙層複式空間的總面積達720平方米,為中、港、澳面積最大的一間。走進店內,已被店內的氣派及裝潢所吸引,以銅色概念為設計精髓,配合木製的專櫃與水晶燈,感受既舒服也奢華。店內明顯地劃分了多個區域,包括珠寶、腕錶、婚戒及配飾四個展示區,最令人印象深刻的,是浪漫婚戒區,多款珍貴的首飾及婚戒,閃爍地呈現在眼前,配合柔和珍珠白的裝潢及花飾裝置,讓人感受到婚禮的神聖與莊嚴。附近有一螺旋形的樓梯,上達就是售後服務區,由經驗豐富的腕錶師父駐店,萬一有任何修改及遇到機件上的問題,都可快速地獲得維修服務,當然少不得是私人會客區,讓尊貴的顧客有私人的空間,安心選購配襯合適自己的首飾。

卡地亞也帶來09秋冬多款的配飾及精品系列,對於女士們來說,卡地亞的Marcello手袋是因應客人的要求而訂造,今季加入多款驚喜的物料與款式,感覺全新。例如蟒蛇皮配以奶白色小牛皮飾邊的大型手袋、白色小羊皮及長皮毛打造,配以蟒蛇皮手把及飾邊的獨特款手袋,工藝精緻且考究。

男裝首選Pasha皮具系列,今季男裝流行淺啡或駱駝色。卡地亞這系列以駝色柔軟皮革原塊剪裁,並用摺紋熱壓的工藝,以及馬具縫紉細節,看似簡約的公事包,只要看細節及一些紋理就能發現工藝精湛。同系列還有記事簿、日記簿、皮夾和卡片套,均以駝色小牛皮或鱷魚皮打造。

地址:尖沙咀廣東道2號A,1881,G06號舖
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 04:03 PM   #220
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Heritage site diggings turn up skeletons
It's not all about cash for one property agent

22 July 2009
South China Morning Post

Heritage 1881, the retail and hotel complex built on the site of the former historic Marine Police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui has begun attracting a growing number of retailers of upmarket luxury brands to its halls.

But what is left of the "heritage" in Heritage 1881 is open to some question, says Ah Pak.

The redevelopment project triggered strong disapproval from conservationists a few years ago when it emerged that the winning developer, Cheung Kong (Holdings), would level the Tsim Sha Tsui hill and remove several mature trees on the site to build a shopping arcade.

In addition, some of those historic properties that survived were to be occupied by tenants who would have the right to decide whether to allow public visits.

Could the "heritage" value of the site have been better preserved?

Yes, Ah Pak has learned. It seems that Sino Land won top marks in the design category from the government for its proposed development that would have preserved the hill and the trees and left the 120-year-old harbour police headquarters almost as it was.

However, Hong Kong residents had no inkling of the proposal, which never saw the light of day after Cheung Kong gave a bigger lump sum to the government for approval of its project.

Cheung Kong paid HK$325.8 million for a 50-year land grant in May 2003. What motive pops into your mind when you hear that someone has chosen to be a property agent?
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