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Old October 29th, 2009, 02:02 PM   #241
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University may lose historic buildings
HK$21.7m renovation won international award

9 October 2009
South China Morning Post

Baptist University may have to move next year out of a colonial military building for which it has just won an international heritage conservation award after a HK$21.7 million renovation.

The government has proposed to downgrade the former Royal Air Force Officers' Mess in Kowloon Bay from grade one to two in its review of heritage sites, and may require the university to vacate the building when its lease expires next year.

The university, which has used the building for the past four years to house its academy of visual arts, won an honourable mention in the 2009 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for cultural heritage conservation.

The Unesco jury said the project set a noteworthy model for recycling obsolete public buildings.

"[The university] has transformed an abandoned colonial heritage landmark into a vibrant university space, making optimal use of the spacious interior spaces and enlivening them with student activities," the jury said.

The visual arts academy is due to move to a new building in Kowloon Tong when it is completed next year.

But the university hopes to keep the historic site for its arts outreach programme and housing extra arts classes needed under the new 3+3+4 education system.

A spokeswoman for the Government Property Agency said it was consulting the Education Bureau and other departments about the institution's application for a new lease.

Lam Long-chau, director of the university's estates office, said the site was a cradle for nurturing arts talent and a base for the university to promote arts.

"We do hope we have a chance to stay and contribute to the community," Lam said.

The college has been opened to the public with guided tours and art workshops.

The project was among 12 winners from the region, including the mainland, Australia, Pakistan and South Korea. It was Hong Kong's only entry in the competition, which received 48 entries from 14 areas.

The officer's mess and the annex, hidden on a wooded slope and built in 1934, were part of the RAF base at Kai Tak. The flat-roofed, two-storey building features colonnaded verandahs typical of colonial buildings in Southeast Asia, built to adapt to the sub-tropical weather.

The university won the lease for the 3,500-square-metre site in 2005 in a government bidding exercise and converted it with funds from the University Grants Committee.

During the three-month renovation, different spaces were transformed into classrooms, studios and workshops. Military features such as an air raid shelter, a Nissen hut and a small shooting range, scattered on the open green space, were preserved.

Some clever tricks were used to make the old structure comply with modern building codes, which do not provide leeway for historic buildings in meeting safety standards, often resulting in the removal of original features.

The two fire staircases, for example, were 25mm short of the required width, so plaster was peeled from the walls on either side to make the stairs wider, assistant director of estates Dominic Fung Bai-lei said.

Li Kam-ping, a third-year visual arts student, said it was a pity the academy had to quit the campus next year despite the award.

"The tranquil natural environment gives me lots of inspiration," she said.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 05:00 PM   #242
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Restoring Queen's Pier must be integral part of conserving Central
20 October 2009
SCMP

Many have hailed the government's initiative of "conserving Central" as a paradigm shift and a triumph of civil society's continuous efforts to conserve historic elements of Victoria City.

It is certainly not easy in money-first Hong Kong and the government should be praised for its efforts. Conserving Central not only gives breathing spaces for a packed business centre. More importantly, it also allows people a right to the city, a right that might be denied if the spaces were occupied by grade-A offices or expensive commercial outlets.

Can we call this the second liberation of Central? Before the second world war Central, for a variety of health, sanitary, racial and political reasons, was a rather exclusive district for expatriates.

Chinese were relegated to live in areas around and to the west of Sheung Wan. It was only in the 1950s when the government undertook massive reclamation in Central that public piers, transport hubs and public open spaces were planned. According to the 1961 City of Victoria Hong Kong Central Area Redevelopment Report by the director of public works, most of the reclaimed land was to be "set aside for improvements in community facilities rather than to increase the existing preponderance of private buildings both business and residential in this congested part of the city".

It was in this plan that City Hall, Edinburgh Place and Queen's Pier fronting the new harbourfront became firmly established as civic spaces that could be reached by ordinary people "for sitting and watching, waiting and talking". For the first time in the colonial history of the City of Victoria, people were given a right to use the city core and imbue it with meaning.

City Hall, Edinburgh Place and the Queen's Pier complex were symbolic, according to the director's report. They were to be seen as a suitable entrance to the colony for visitors arriving at the pier. They would arrive at a civic space, in the political and economic heart of the city. This was the first quiet but powerful liberation of Central. This probably explains why the fight to rescue Queen's Pier in 2007 stirred so much emotion within the community.

Unless you have a right to access a space and use it, you cannot turn it into a place with cultural images and collective memories.

Now, hopefully, with the Central Market and other buildings saved, they will provide spaces for people from all walks of life in the city to use and imbue them with meaning that is valued by civil society. Central's second liberation is in the making.

However, if conservation necessarily embraces a deep respect for the history of a place, this second liberation will be incomplete without the intact preservation of the first civic space in Central, namely the City Hall/Edinburgh Place/Queen's Pier complex.

Therefore, the pier should be reinstituted in situ as a tribute to mark the birthplace of civic space in the political and economic heart of Victoria City.

Ng Mee-kam, associate professor, department of urban planning and design, University of Hong Kong
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Old November 9th, 2009, 07:24 PM   #243
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HONG KONG Historic Preservation Development News

OKay... I think you guys are getting the wrong idea about this reclamation scheme. Firstly, it was planed to give Hong Kong residents open space is a crowded-enough city. It would feature a harbourfront promenade and a big open square. Underneath would be an extension of the expressway in front of the IFC that would link it under Wan Chai and linked above ground to Causeway Bay. IMO, I support this...
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Old November 10th, 2009, 07:16 PM   #244
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Group wants Edinburgh Place to be given monument status
10 November 2009
South China Morning Post

A pressure group has proposed declaring the architectural cluster at Edinburgh Place a monument in a bid to preserve Queen's Pier at its original location.

Heritage Watch members, comprising academics, architects and Harbourfront Enhancement Committee members, said the government should have included the historic grade-one pier in the Central conservation plan presented in the policy address last month.

They said they were willing to give up the lagoon in front of the pier and accept a delay in restoring the pier.

"If building a lagoon before the pier will take too much trouble, a reflecting pool is still acceptable. We just want the pier back in its space," said Lee Yuet, who has worked in architecture for more than 45 years.

Associate professor Ng Mee-kam, of the department of urban planning and design at the University of Hong Kong, said: "We don't mind putting the pier back in its original location at a later stage, after the completion of the P2 Road. At least it would be restored properly."

The P2 Road, a slip road adjoining the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, is expected to be completed this year,

The pier was the arrival point for Hong Kong governors since 1925, Queen Elizabeth in 1975 and Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1989. It was planned together with the City Hall Complex and Edinburgh Place.

In a legislative meeting yesterday, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said district councils and a public survey supported relocating the pier to the new waterfront.

But Heritage Watch said the district councils were a rubberstamp for government policies.

Chairman Stephen Chan Ching-kiu said Heritage Watch would submit the proposal to the Antiquities Advisory Board.

He hoped the board would make the cluster, including the Star Ferry clock tower and memorial garden next to City Hall, a historic grade one landscape, and the group would ask the Antiquities Authority to declare it a monument.

The existing system only grades individual buildings and structures. If the plan is realised, it would be the city's first graded architectural cluster.

The chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, Bernard Chan, said the board welcomed proposals from the public, but it would only be discussed after the board finished the grading of the 1,444 buildings proposed by the government this year, "unless there's a sound argument and urgency".
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Old November 12th, 2009, 04:54 PM   #245
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Opinion : Government records are a historic resource
8 November 2009
SCMP

Your report on whether to open secret-police archives in Romania and other former communist countries in Eastern Europe ("Should Romania let sleeping dogs lie?", September 21) should give Hong Kong people pause for thought.

The point is not that the police in Hong Kong are likely to have amassed thousands of dossiers on the local population but, rather, that the Romanians - and other nationalities - recognise the value of preserving the police files.

As Virgiliu-Leon Tarau, of the Romanian National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives says, the files will have immense value for generations to come. The archives contain details of the lives of ordinary citizens - the history of the Romanian people.

So, too, the records of the Hong Kong government document the lives and activities of the people of this city.

How we lived and worked, how Hong Kong developed and thrived will be of significant interest to future generations. Yet, without an effective system for the selection and preservation of government records, our history will be lost to us - and to them.

Don Brech, Causeway Bay
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 06:57 PM   #246
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Exhibition to showcase Hong Kong's heritage conservation achievements
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Government Press Release

An exhibition was launched at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre (HDC) today (November 21) to showcase the 12 winning heritage conservations in Hong Kong which have won the Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage of the United Nationals Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) over the past years.

The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, officiated at a ceremony this afternoon to open the "Heritage Alive: UNESCO Culture Heritage Awards" Exhibition cum Symposium on the Revitalisation of Urban Heritage Buildings and Sites: Private Sector Experience in Three Cities (Hong Kong, Toronto and Vancouver) at the Heritage Discovery Centre.

Also officiating were the Head of Culture Unit of the UNESCO Bangkok Office, Dr Timothy Curtis, and Dean of Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong, Professor Ralph Lerner.

Mrs Lam noted that a total of 128 projects had received the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards since its establishment in 2000, among which 12 projects were from Hong Kong, representing 9.4% of all the awards.

"We have a great diversity and variety of projects winning the awards. It is this rich diversity of Hong Kong that makes us so different as a distinct World City," Mrs Lam said.

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation were established in 2000 to honour and encourage private efforts and public-private initiatives in successfully restoring structures of heritage value in the region. The winning projects have set technical and social benchmarks for conservation in the region and serve as catalysts for local preservation activity, inspiring other homeowners to take action to save their historic buildings.

Since the establishment of the Heritage Awards in 2000, 12 conservation projects in Hong Kong, including both government projects and projects initiated and conducted by non-Government organisations, have received the awards. These projects are:

* Hung Shing Old Temple - Outstanding Project, 2000
* Ohel Leah Synagogue - Outstanding Project, 2000
* King Law Ka Shuk - Award of Merit, 2001
* Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception - Honourable Mention, 2003
* St. Joseph's Chapel - Award of Merit, 2005
* Tung Wah Coffin Home - Award of Merit, 2005
* St Andrew's Church - Award of Merit, 2006
* Liu Ying Lung Study Hall - Honourable Mention, 2006
* Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre (former Whitfield Barracks) - Jury Commendation for Innovation, 2007
* Little Hong Kong - former Central Ordnance Munitions Depot) (Award of Merit, 2007
* B赌thanie (Heritage Campus of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts) - Honourable Mention, 2008
* Academy of Visual Arts of the Hong Kong Baptist University (former Royal Air Force Officers' Mess) - Honourable Mention, 2009

The exhibition, to be open to the public at the Thematic Exhibition Gallery of HDC from November 22, 2009 to February 17, 2010, will introduce the UNESCO Heritage Awards and showcase the 12 winning projects of Hong Kong, and share these conservation success stories with the general public for enhancing their awareness of heritage preservation.

Conservation professionals from Hong Kong, Toronto and Vancouver also gathered in the Symposium on the Revitalisation of Urban Heritage Buildings and Sites: Private Sector Experience in Three Cities (Hong Kong, Toronto and Vancouver) today to exchange practical experience on heritage conservation.

Using case studies, the symposium addressed issues and means of facilitating the private sector to be involved in conserving and revitalising heritage buildings and sites in the urban context.

The exhibition and symposium are jointly organised by the Commissioner for Heritage's Office, the UNESCO Bangkok Office, the Antiquities and Monuments Office and the Architectural Conservation Programme of Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 06:44 PM   #247
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New school can boost city arts
The Standard
Thursday, November 19, 2009

SCAD, the University for Creative Careers, will start running courses for 300 students next year at the historic North Kowloon Magistracy in Sham Shui Po.

The only university in Hong Kong to focus on art and design, it will offer 14 non-local four- year bachelor's and master's degree programs registered with the Education Bureau.

Tuition fees will be US$27,765 (HK$216,567) for undergraduates and US$28,215 for graduates for one academic year.

Courses will cover a wide range of art-related criteria - advertising, animation, graphic design, illustration, interactive design and game development, motion media design, photography and visual effects.

Previously named the Savannah College of Art and Design, SCAD was founded in the United States in 1978. The Hong Kong campus is the fourth location after Savannah and Atlanta, both in Georgia, and Lacoste, France.

Hong Kong vice president John Paul Rowan said he hopes SCAD will play a role in the SAR's development in the creative industry, one of the six economic pillars in the chief executive's policy address.

Rowan added that all students would have to study the art and architectural history of Hong Kong, and that the university will try its best to localize its curriculum.

"I hope SCAD will help Hong Kong people start looking and realize that art is all around," Rowan said.

Applications are now open, and SAR applicants should have at least five pass grades in the Hong Kong Certificate Education Examinations. English proficiency is one of the admission requirements. The local campus would be able to accommodate 1,500 students each year.

SCAD won over the other bidder, the Chinese Artists Association, for the revitalization of the historic magistracy building in February.

Its academic departments provide frequent interaction between its students and professionals in their field with lectures, workshops and field trips. Students also gain experience by working on classroom projects with such major companies as VTech, Gulfstream, Barnes & Noble and Coca- Cola.

The university also partners and collaborates with leading national and international companies to give students valuable experience in working with professionals and top firms prior to graduation.
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Old November 27th, 2009, 05:35 PM   #248
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Heritage 1881
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Old November 29th, 2009, 06:00 PM   #249
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Expert to finish job on Central Market
25 November 2009
The Standard

A retired architecture professor who graded the Central Market as a historical building has been tasked to head the advisory committee that will oversee its HK$500 million revitalization.

David Lung Ping-yee was yesterday named chairman of the Central Oasis Advisory Committee, which will meet for the first time in mid-December.

Lung graded the market as a Grade III historical building during his time as chairman of the Hong Kong Antiquities Advisory Board.

Lung said the design concept of the revitalized Central Oasis _ which will be the new name of the site _ will come from the community.

``We will work with the community and an architect will be employed to work closely on what the community wants ... and how this will be re- used in the future,'' he said.

Urban Renewal Authority chairman Barry Cheung Chun-yuen said Lung ``has done more than anybody by contributing a great deal to urban regeneration efforts over the years.'' The authority will undertake a series of structural surveys of the Central Market building in the next four to six months to ascertain its foundation and other characteristics.

The market's original plans were damaged during World War II.

The advisory committee will include legislators, Central and Western district councillors, historians, academics and merchants.

Lung said the Central Market, built in 1939, was one of the city's first reinforced concrete buildings.

``It is very beautiful in terms of architectural styles _ it is one of those ``modern'' architectural styles at that time when Hong Kong was still a colony. It was built at around the same time as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank,'' he said.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced the Central Market plans in his policy address last month. The attempt to create an ``urban oasis'' is part of a larger revitalization of Central.
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Old December 2nd, 2009, 04:51 PM   #250
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Old buildings, new design ideas
The Standard
Wednesday, December 02, 2009



It is perhaps not surprising that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen helped kick off the DETOUR 2009 series of creative activities. His childhood home, the old Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters, is the two- week event's anchor site.

Until next Wednesday, the old buildings will house displays, talks and shows focused on design.

Fittingly, the organizers have been rather creative: who else would have thought of having charity screenings of classic episodes of the RTHK TV series Below the Lion Rock, which explore the theme of the `living environment' - something the old quarters embody?

You may have missed those, but there's plenty more to see. One of the most interesting is from the Polytechnic University's school of design, called Debeach, or DE(TOUR on the) Beach.

The idea is to have an urban retreat in the courtyard - a beach - where passersby may rest, have a drink and play ball games.

Other features include exhibits on various aspects of design - especially urban design - as well as displays of work in wood, paper and other materials by designers.

There's lots going on elsewhere too, such as neighborhood art galleries and fun in Kowloon and the New Territories. Check the detour.hk website for details.

The idea of the quarters as an anchor site is a good one as the government aims to make it a center for creative activities, with design and arts-focused studios, galleries, shops and even lodgings for visiting artists. Hosting DETOUR 2009 gives the site a head start. Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #251
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Heritage building photo ban sparks board's ire
5 December 2009
South China Morning Post


Photos by dancheung_hk from dchome :






Heritage advisers will write to Cheung Kong (Holdings) urging the developer to relax control of its new boutique hotel in a historic Tsim Sha Tsui landmark after staff stopped one of them from taking photos there.

Antiquities Advisory Board member Susanna Chiu Lai-kuen said yesterday that when she tried to take pictures during a recent casual visit to the former marine police headquarters, called 1881 Heritage, a security guard stopped her, saying Cheung Kong had "bought up" the place.

"The guard said the place was part of the hotel's private area and for privacy reasons I couldn't shoot. But there was no one around at all," she told a board meeting.

The hotel, operated by Cheung Kong tenant Aqua Restaurant Group, is awaiting a licence and has not yet opened its guestrooms.

A Cheung Kong spokeswoman said she needed to check with the hotel management whether there was any policy restricting visitors' behaviour. "But in general many people can take photos on the site," she said.

Chiu said she was also barred from taking photos at the entrance of the hotel restaurant where she had eaten. "The manager said if I was not a customer I can't shoot," she said.

Chiu's remarks shocked board members. "I always feel heartbroken when I think of that site," Bernard Lim Wan-fung said. "It was supposed to be a public property but it has now fallen into private hands. Is there a way that the public can enjoy the site and take photos freely?"

The declared monument was granted to a subsidiary of Cheung Kong, which paid HK$325.8 million, for 50 years in 2003. The government has been criticised for handing it over on such a long lease and for allowing removal of the wooded slopes that were an important feature of the site.

Leisure and Cultural Services Department curator Fione Lo Sau-lai said she had urged the developer to install more signposts to clarify what visitors could do, and to provide information on the building's history.

But board chairman Bernard Chan said the public had some expectation to use the site more freely. Members supported his suggestion to write a letter to remind the developer of the public expectation.
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Old December 15th, 2009, 08:10 AM   #252
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Walking tours of West Kowloon's heritage shops and sites to start
11 December 2009
South China Morning Post

Free guided walking tours that introduce old shops and historic buildings in West Kowloon will start next week.

The Saturday tours, organised by the Development Bureau, will include such buildings such as St Mary's Canossian College, the Gun Club Hill Barracks, the Cricket Club, Methodist College and the Old South Kowloon District Court building, which now houses the Lands Tribunal

Another type of walking tour will take people to shops along Shanghai Street that are still operating traditional Chinese businesses, such as selling wedding gowns, gold jewellery, Chinese scales, incense and sandalwood.

The tours will run every Saturday afternoon until March.

They complement the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture 2009, an event being held at the West Kowloon Cultural District site until the end of February.

Application forms for the walking tours are available at a website run by the bureau, www.heritage.gov.hk.

The public can make inquiries on the hotlines, 2805 7146 (architectural tours) or 9746 4396 (old-shop tours).
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Old December 16th, 2009, 12:01 PM   #253
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Former owner of King Yin Lei mansion pays HK$58 million to build houses next door
16 December 2009
South China Morning Post

The former owner of historic King Yin Lei mansion in Mid-Levels has paid HK$57.99 million to the government for a new site to build houses after surrendering the monument site.

The unidentified owner paid the full market difference between the land values of the two sites, the Development Bureau said.

The neighbouring sites on Stubbs Road are the same size and plot ratio, meaning they share the same development potential. The owner will be allowed to build five three-storey houses on the new lot, now a man-made slope.

Surveyors say the premium may reflect the difference in views and in the property-market situations over time. Charles Chan Chiu-kwok, managing director of surveying firm Savills, said assessment of land premiums usually included a range of factors, such as the location and shape of the site, which affects the building layout and thus the view from flats, and the ease of preparing the ground.

But Pang Siu-kei, another surveyor, said that given the proximity of the two sites and their similar development restrictions, it was hard to understand why there was a difference in value. "The only reason I can think of is the current booming property market making land prices higher than one or two years ago."

The bureau said the premium was reached in accordance with established procedures, without giving specifics. The government now owns the declared monument.

The former owner's attempt to deface the mansion in 2007 initially escaped the government's attention, but the work was called to a halt when the government declared it a provisional monument. The status was confirmed last year, and the owner agreed to surrender the site in exchange for one next to it.

The former owner will continue to finance and execute the mansion's restoration work, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year. Until the mansion is properly restored, the owner cannot sell, rent or mortgage the new houses in the new lot.

The government will then launch a tender to invite commercial organisations to submit proposals for reusing the mansion.

Separately, China Resources Property planned to redevelop the low block of its headquarters in Wan Chai into a six-star hotel, company managing director Winson Chow said. The six-storey block will be turned into a hotel tower of 18 storeys or more providing about 100 guest rooms. The exhibition hall that the block houses will remain.

Chow said the hotel would provide conference and exhibition facilities because there is a demand in the district. The company has submitted a proposal to the Development Opportunities Office, set up this year under the Development Bureau.

If the application is successful, the hotel is to open in 2015. The company is retrofitting its 25-year-old office tower with green features to cut its water and energy consumption, at a cost of HK$600 million.
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Old December 30th, 2009, 08:57 AM   #254
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Dragon Garden owner wants status upgraded
19 December 2009
South China Morning Post

The owner of the city's largest private garden, the 60-year-old Dragon Garden in Sham Tseng, wants officials to upgrade its heritage status because of what he says are inadequacies in the government's appraisal.

Dr Lee Shiu, son of the garden's founder, philanthropist Lee Iu-cheung, made a submission to the Antiquities Advisory Board yesterday pointing out 21 items in the official appraisal of the garden's value that he says need clarification and elaboration. He has asked for the grade-two status of the site to be raised to grade one.

The submission, prepared by architectural researchers at Chinese University, is part of Lee's plan to seek matching funds from the government to turn the eight-hectare garden into a conservation project for community use.

About HK$30 million will be needed to restore the site on Castle Peak Road.

The submission listed alleged inadequacies in the official appraisal, released in March, elaborating on the founder's extensive social contribution and the architectural significance of various parts of the garden.

For example, it said, the appraisal failed to describe the many details of the pavilions and other buildings, which draw reference and inspiration from the Summer Palace in Beijing and Chinese calligraphy.

It also failed to mention the changing room and the swimming pool, the first structures erected in the garden, which had served as a place for social gatherings for guests, including colonial governors and the local elite.

Cynthia Lee Hong-yee, the founder's granddaughter, said: "One important factor about Dragon Garden that needs highlighting {hellip} is grandfather's pioneering concept of sustainable development in the 1950s."

Recycled granite blocks and glass bottles were used as building materials, and a water catchment collected rain water for irrigation.

Lee Shiu invited board members to visit the garden and said he was proud to be requesting an upgrade.

"We note in the news that over 70 private owners have requested their heritage properties be downgraded," he said. "We find it such a shame that not many Hong Kong people take pride in their own heritage."

The Antiquities Advisory Board will discuss in the coming months proposals from owners to delist or upgrade historic buildings.

Apart from Dragon Garden, there have been calls from owners or members of the public for 96 buildings to be given higher grades. Some 72 owners have requested delisting.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 09:17 AM   #255
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HaHA! I have already seen the great thing!!!
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 05:15 AM   #256
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Exhibition introduces Conserving Central projects
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Government Press Release



The Commissioner for Heritage's Office of the Development Bureau is jointly staging an exhibition in Central with the Central and Western District Council to publicise the eight innovative projects of Conserving Central.

The exhibition will be held from today (December 31) until February 12 at the main concourse, podium level 1, ifc mall, Central.

The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, and Chairman of the Central and Western District Council Mr Chan Tak-chor officiated at the exhibition's opening ceremony today.

Mrs Lam said that the Conserving Central initiative, unveiled by the Chief Executive in his 2009-10 Policy Address, built on the Government's commitment and efforts in recent years on harbourfront enhancement and heritage conservation. The eight projects aim to preserve many of the social, historical and architectural features in Central while adding new life and vibrancy to the area.

"These eight projects are the beginning rather than the end of Conserving Central. We welcome similar contributions from private owners in the Central District and we will identify opportunities for more greening and greater connectivity," she said.

Mrs Lam expressed gratitude to the Central and Western District Council for its support and pledged to continue working with the District Council in taking forward these projects.

Mr Chan applauded the Conserving Central initiative which had fully respected the district's history and preserved its cultural characteristics. The District Council would fully support all the projects.

Apart from exhibition panels introducing the eight projects, the exhibition also featured a large 3-D model showing all the historic buildings and monuments in Central District.

The eight projects are:

* New Central Harbourfront
* Central Market
* The Central Police Station Compound
* Police Married Quarters Site at Hollywood Road
* Central Government Offices Complex
* Murray Building
* Former French Mission Building
* Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Compound

Details about Conserving Central are also available at the website of Development Bureau: (www.devb.gov.hk).
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Old January 18th, 2010, 05:41 PM   #257
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Auditorium proposed for under school ruins
Groups fear archaeological relics will be destroyed by Development Bureau's plan

13 January 2010
South China Morning Post

A government proposal to build an auditorium underneath a site of archaeological interest in Central has raised fears that valuable relics will be destroyed.

Critics are also asking why such a specific proposal has been put forward when the government has yet to invite proposals from interested organisations on how to use the site.

The Development Bureau's proposal comes ahead of a tender for revitalising the two former Hollywood Road married police quarters blocks on Aberdeen Street for creative industries, an initiative announced by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his policy address in October.

The bureau's suggestion will be discussed by the Town Planning Board on Friday. In a paper submitted to the board, the bureau suggests creating 5,000 square metres of floor space in addition to the 15,000 sq metres in the two existing blocks.

The extra floor space would come from a multifunction courtyard between the two blocks, a sky bridge linking the blocks, a "rehearsal auditorium" with a sunken compartment underneath the courtyard, and space for displaying some of the foundations of the historic Central School.

Dr Sun Yat-sen, founder of modern China, studied at the school before it moved to the Aberdeen Street site. The school was founded in 1862, moved to Aberdeen Street in 1889 and was demolished in 1948 to make way for the city's first police quarters.

Its foundations lay unnoticed until 2007, when the Antiquities and Monuments Office, under public pressure, began an investigation.

The excavation revealed relics scattered around the site. Underneath the courtyard - the site of the proposed auditorium - are the remains of the west and east verandahs of the school's basement floors.

The government does not mention in the paper whether construction of the auditorium would damage the relics. It only says some of the additional space will be used to display them.

William Meacham, a former chairman of the Hong Kong Archaeological Society, said construction work would definitely destroy some of the relics and officials should make it clear why they wanted to do so.

He said that in some countries, if relics were found to be not so valuable - for example, not visually educating - they could be destroyed in redevelopment after being recorded.

"But the question of whether it is valuable is up to the community, not archaeologists, to answer," said Meacham.

Roger Ho Yao-sheng, a resident who campaigned to push officials to excavate the site, said the relics were rare archaeological findings discovered in the urban centre and should not be destroyed. He was not convinced there was a need for more space, as he felt the two buildings should provide enough.

The convenor of the Central and Western Concern Group, Katty Law Ngar-ning, who also joined the campaign, said she wanted to know why officials suggested such a specific facility ahead of the tender. She urged officials to explain the purpose of their proposal and whether it would harm the relics.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 08:24 PM   #258
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A fine romance: sample the world on a plate in Tsim Sha Tsui
7 January 2010
SCMP

It is for this beautiful harbour view that I chose this Tsim Sha Tsui location for Spoon," Alain Ducasse says as he gazes through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the restaurant.

The chef, whose name is synonymous with French haute cuisine, selected the InterContinental in Tsim Sha Tsui to open the Hong Kong branch of Spoon back in 2003 because, "This hotel always focuses on food lovers. It's great to partner with someone who understands my vision - that's how I made my decision."

Last year, Ducasse decided it was time for a change. The interior was refurbished, tableware and uniforms were changed and the menu evolved to turn Spoon into what he calls "today's restaurant".

"After six years, the market has changed," he says. "Previously, we served international ethnic cuisine but now the food is more contemporary French. We can't do the Paris version [of Spoon] in Hong Kong because it simply doesn't work. It remains a Spoon concept - just spinning off in distinctive variations. Essentially, Spoon is adapting itself to ever-changing consumption patterns and the guests' actual expectations."

Down the road from the InterContinental, the hotel formerly known as the Miramar also underwent a metamorphosis. Henderson Land's Martin Lee Ka-shing took over and hired Hollywood lifestyle guru Colin Cowie to transform the ageing Miramar into The Mira.

Award-winning Singaporean chef Justin Quek was invited to open Whisk on the hotel's fifth floor.

"I know Martin Lee," he says. "He tried my food in Taipei and asked me to help in his hotel here."

The chef, who sold his three restaurants in Shanghai and has two eateries in Taipei, is a consultant for Whisk as well as the French Window at the IFC in Central.

Whisk, which opened in September, has already become known among food lovers for dishes such as suckling pig with red wine and spice sauce and baked miso-marinated cod, and the chef is happy to customise menus for private parties. Quek is classically trained in French cuisine, but says he cannot be compared with other French chefs.

"I am different from Ducasse and [Pierre] Gagnaire," he says. "I am Asian and don't like to use too much butter and cream."

Another new Tsim Sha Tsui fine-dining hot spot is the colonial 1881 Heritage building, near the Star Ferry. Businessman Francis Yip Chi-hung opened DG Cafe and Wine Cuisine in the former marine police headquarters.

"The 1881 Heritage management team contacted me after trying my first DG wine cellar at a private club in Jardine's Lookout," Yip says.

Although he's new to the food and beverage trade, Yip says he was encouraged by wealthy friends to open the space for people to enjoy fine wines. The restaurant serves mostly Italian food, but also Asian dishes as a nod to the sailors who used to dine in the space.

Above DG Cafe is Hullett House, run by the Aqua Restaurant Group. Named after 19th century English scholar Richmond William Hullett, the space was transformed by Aqua founder David Yeo into five restaurants and bars, a souvenir shop and a 13-suite boutique hotel.

General manager Phil Oakden says: "Our concept is to match the expectations of Hong Kong people - everyone can go to Hullett House, although we know we can't be all things to all people. Stables Grill is for casual dining. St George is for an extravagant romantic dining experience, whereas Mariners' Rest exemplifies a British pub serving food like fish and chips and beer. Loong Toh Yuen has an outdoor courtyard which we see as the perfect place to put a Chinese restaurant. The Parlour is an all-day concept serving English breakfast, elegant high tea and dinner."

Philippe Orrico, a protege of Gagnaire and former chef at Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental, was hired as executive chef at St George.

"I decided to do a menu that's not too French but more open to world cuisines full of modern flavours," he says.

"Sweets are the only traditional items. I combine ingredients from my Parisian suppliers with interesting local produce. I try to find a balance between classic and modern French."

The chef hopes diners will be enticed by the novel dishes.

"My tasting menu changes according to the seasons," he says. "Dishes are partly Gagnaire influences and partly my ideas."

Although these Tsim Sha Tsui restaurants evince a gastronomic evolution, one of the oldest fine-dining spots - Gaddi's, at the Peninsula Hotel - is changing more discreetly. The restaurant opened in 1953 and still retains its opulent old-fashioned French interior. But British chef David Goodridge, who has been at Gaddi's since 2005, has been transforming the menu into his private gourmet fantasy.

"To sit down and create an entirely new menu is almost impossible, so every six weeks we change the items or update the a la carte dishes with seasonal ingredients," says Goodridge. "We stick to European food, import all ingredients from Europe and work in accordance with European seasons. Produce and fresh seafood come in live every day."

Goodridge, who worked with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons, says he has a more personalised cooking style, rather than having signature dishes.

"My fundamental cooking method stays the same but my dishes change," he says. "My sole signature dish on the Gaddi's menu is the marinated goose liver confit with candied rhubarb and hazelnut dressing. Good taste is my mantra - most important is flavour, followed by texture and techniques leading to the end result. I start with a basic French technique but how I adapt it marks my character as a chef."

As Goodridge looks at all the new fine-dining restaurants opening near The Peninsula, he is confident that Gaddi's will retain its top ranking.

"It's great to have competition because it makes us perform," he says. "Complacency is not good. Instead, my challenge is to entice new guests [across the harbour] from Hong Kong Island. More restaurants will draw more people, so there will be more vibrancy in Tsim Sha Tsui. We need to look forward. The Peninsula has an amazing history and we will try to generate the next generation of regulars for the next 20 years. Our philosophy is not about volume - our guarantee to offer the finest quality is what sets us apart."

Foodies are already anticipating the resurrection of Hugo's, at the Hyatt Regency on Nathan Road, that closed in 2006. The hotel reopened in October on Hanoi Road and it will be fascinating to see whether Hugo's will stay true to its original blueprint or get a makeover.

Dine with the stars - a guide to top-nosh tables

Hullett House 2A Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, hulletthouse.com The Parlour - all-day dining and bar, tel: 3988 0101 Stables Grill - casual dining, tel: 3988 0104 Loong Toh Yuen - Cantonese food, tel: 3988 0107 Mariners' Rest - British pub, tel: 3988 0103 St George (pictured) - modern European fine dining, tel: 3988 0220

DG Cafe and Wine Cuisine Shop 208, Level 2, 1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2604 1881, dgcafe.com

Whisk 5/F The Mira hotel Hong Kong, 118 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2315 5999, themirahotel.com

Gaddi's 1/F, The Peninsula, Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2315 3171

Spoon by Alain Ducasse Lobby Level, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2313 2256
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Old February 12th, 2010, 02:26 PM   #259
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Preserving a place in our hearts for our not-so-haughty cuisine
10 February 2010
SCMP

Heritage is something that a society inherits from previous generations. It is up to that society to then preserve this heritage for future generations. It is a vital part of the life and unique character of a city like Hong Kong. When we refer to intangible heritage we mean the collective memory of the people, which reflects our lifestyles. I would like to see the cha chaan teng [Hong Kong tea cafe] added to the list of the city's intangible heritage, because it is a reflection of the lifestyle of Hongkongers and is a unique feature of the city.

The culture and traditions of a society are regarded as part of its intangible heritage and that is why the cha chaan teng is a suitable candidate. After the second world war, these cafe-style restaurants provided Western cuisine. Later this was expanded to include traditional Chinese dishes. These restaurants are known for their varied and affordable menus.

When looking back at their history, you are given a glimpse of the lives of Hong Kong people from lower-income groups. Despite their financial constraints, they wanted the chance to try Western cuisine. Their role has changed since those early days. Now Hong Kong people see them as efficient places for tea or a quick meal. The food is ordered, served and paid for at great speed, which is a unique part of the eating culture of this city. Generally you will get your dish within 10 minutes. Customers pay at the counter rather than giving money to the waiter, and diners also share tables.

These restaurants reflect the changes in society and represent a crossover of historic and modern lifestyles. A city without its own distinctive characteristics is a mediocre place. The cha chaan teng is unique to Hong Kong. There are similar restaurants on the mainland and in Chinatowns in other countries. But they have nothing to do with the unique eating culture of this city. I can see no reason why the cha chaan teng should not join the list of Hong Kong's intangible cultural heritage.

Wong Yin-ting, Tsz Wan Shan
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Old February 26th, 2010, 09:57 PM   #260
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Calls to preserve Wing Lee Street mount after movie's success
23 February 2010
South China Morning Post





The Urban Renewal Authority will press ahead with redevelopment of Wing Lee Street in Sheung Wan despite calls for preservation spurred by an award-winning film made in the street.

The authority said the ambience of the street, where three of 12 tenement buildings will be kept intact, would be preserved.

It was responding after filmmakers Alex Law Kai-yui and Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting, who won the Crystal Bear award at the Berlinale festival with their movie Echoes of the Rainbow, called for the street's preservation.

Cheung, the producer, said Wing Lee Street was the only place in Hong Kong that could have been used for the film, set in 1960s Hong Kong.

If it had already been demolished, they would have had to go to Malaysia or Guangzhou to find the right setting. "That would've been ridiculous," she said.

The authority said the project already struck a sensible balance between preservation and development. The Town Planning Board's public consultation on the plan - under which nine of the 12 tenement blocks will be demolished and redeveloped into six-storey row houses similar in style to the tenement buildings - ends today.

The street is famous for its terrace, an open space in front of the tenement buildings, where neighbours and children can get together and relax.

Connie Yam, who grew up in Wing Lee Street and now operates a printing shop on the ground floor of No7, says the street is full of childhood memories. "I would like to see it preserved. We used to play mahjong and set up our stoves outside the buildings," she said.

A Form Five student, named Wing, said the area was a historic gem in a concrete jungle. "I love the place despite the bad hygiene conditions," she said, adding her parents rented a room for their family of three in one of the tenement buildings.

The owner of an old-style printing company, Mrs Lee, who has been working at the street for more than 30 years, said business had been getting worse in recent years. "I'm emotionally attached to this place but most neighbours have gone. It's not bad to get some compensation from the authority as it will improve our retired life."

Kwong Haap-pak, a tenant living in a newly-refurbished tenement building close to Wing Lee Street, said preservation might not be the best option. "Our building has a nice appearance but the structural conditions are getting worse inside."

The authority said a study showed the buildings were dilapidated. Renovating one flat would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to an assessment on refurbishing tenement buildings in Kwun Tong.

A spokeswoman for the Central and Western Concern Group urged the authority to protect all buildings in the street. "It's meaningless if its architectural integrity is destroyed."
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