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Old November 25th, 2011, 01:03 PM   #321
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Green for go on $500m Central Market plan
The Standard
Friday, November 25, 2011



Central Market is to be turned into a "Central Oasis" for the man-in-the- street at a cost of HK$500 million.

The Urban Renewal Authority said it has selected AGC Design to undertake the transformation with more green space and trees on the rooftop. If the structure is strong enough, a swimming pool may be built, it added.

The design will be finalized in six months and the plan will then be submitted to the Town Planning Board for approval next year.

AGC Design director Vincent Ng Wing-shun said it is clear Hongkongers do not want the market turned into another upscale shopping mall.

He said the historic site will be down- to-earth without chain stores and other high-end boutiques.

"Our vision is to conserve Central Market in the best possible manner, and we will try our best to make it architecturally creative," he said.

Parts of the building such as the light well, glass windows and stone steps will be retained, he added.

The firm's design will have traditional food stalls - a dai pai dong - and an organic produce market on the ground floor.

The middle floor will comprise an art gallery and rooms for performances while a swimming pool will likely be built on the top floor. Organic food will be planted on the roof top.

Ng said the structure of the old building has to be strengthened to accommodate the greenery on the rooftop. This will be one of the challenges.

He described the building - completed in 1938 - as "an elderly in need of more body checks." The URA and AGC Design will pick up good features from the other three firms that submitted tenders for the final design.

"AGC will start working on the proposal based on the design concept and which reflects the aspirations of the community," URA managing director Quinn Law Yee-kwan said.

"Our current schedule is to submit a planning application with the Town Planning Board for consideration next year. We plan to exhibit AGC's final design for the public to view in due course."

Law expects the final cost of the project to exceed the original budget of HK$500 million, because of inflation and rising construction and material costs.

Central Market ceased operating in 2003.
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Old November 28th, 2011, 07:07 AM   #322
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Hotung rammed home staying power
The Standard
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In an earlier column, I looked at Ho Tung Gardens on The Peak as an important heritage site.

The 1927 building is one of the earliest examples of Chinese Renaissance architecture - the mixed Chinese and Western style adopted by China's first Western-trained architects.

However, the complex is also important for its social history, as a recent booklet by Lee Ho-yin, Lynne DiStefano and Curry CK Tse makes clear.

At the time it was built, The Peak was off-limits to Chinese residency, and there was a law against Chinese-style tenement buildings being built in the Mid-Levels or higher - rules partly driven by fear of bubonic plague.

Robert Hotung was the richest man in Hong Kong but of mixed ancestry, a status that both whites and Chinese looked down upon. But he and his family did buy property in the area, and managed to live there.

The choice of a very Chinese-looking style of architecture for the new house in 1927 wasn't an accident. It was a statement that a racial barrier was being broken. It was also a declaration by Hotung that he was different from his neighbors, who were only living in the colony temporarily before going home.

Hong Kong was the only home he had, and he emphasized this point by investing quite a lot in property - which was uncommon at the time.

So Ho Tung Gardens tells a very important historical story. Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old December 11th, 2011, 07:49 AM   #323
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Fighting for war reminders
The Standard
Friday, December 09, 2011



There's more to Hong Kong's heritage than traditional Chinese buildings and colonial architecture - there's the military aspect.

And it is worth preserving, according to Hong Kong University researchers.

The Faculty of Architecture carried out a 10-year study from 2000 on defense structures dating from World War II, including gun batteries, pillboxes, gun emplacements and tunnels built by British and Japanese troops.

The team located about 120 military installations, including 77 pillboxes or defensive bunkers built along the Gin Drinker's Line in Kwai Chung.

The researchers said a systematic and comprehensive conservation of these military relics is necessary because of their historical and conservational value.

Assistant professor Lee Ho-yin said many of the sites are deteriorating.

"It's still not too late at all. Once we start conserving them for public enjoyment, you will find that they make good materials for sightseeing places or education tools," Lee said.

He described the sites as being a "collective memory" of the wartime defense of Hong Kong.

The older generation might not want to conserve them because of painful memories but they should be preserved for educational purposes.

Lee admitted that there are difficulties in conserving them. For instance, many are located in remote areas and some are overgrown.

"War buildings and structures are designed for war, not for aesthetics."

The researchers hope their findings will provide conservation information for government surveyors and town planners.

However tourism sector legislator Paul Tse Wai-chun is skeptical about the value of such sites for visitors, but agrees they should be protected for their historical value.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 09:14 AM   #324
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HK and Asian economies strive for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Government Press Release

Cultural ministers and senior officials of 11 Asian countries have come together in Hong Kong this morning (October 8) to share their insights and experiences of translating the vision of supporting the continuation and enhancement of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) into actions.

Today's "Panel Discussion by Asia Cultural Ministers" Session, hosted by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), is the highlight of the "Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum (ACCF) 2011".

The ACCF was launched in 2003 as one of HAB's key initiatives to foster regional cultural co-operation, share good practices and promote culture and the arts.

This year's ACCF is the seventh forum that Hong Kong has hosted. It carries the theme of "Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: From Vision to Action".

Cultural ministers and senior officials of the Mainland China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have joined today's panel discussion session.

Addressing the panel discussion session, the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, said that Hong Kong was highly committed to promoting regional cultural co-operation and exchange in Asia.

"While the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) provides a framework, how this is translated into practice is a huge subject that has been tackled in different and creative ways by different governments depending on the local context, needs and wishes of the population."

"Here in Hong Kong, we adopt a multi-pronged approach to protect, nurture and promote ICH. This includes in-depth research, education, promotion, application for inscription and transmission," Mr Tsang explained.

He noted that apart from financial and human resources provided by the Government, local communities and organisations were encouraged to participate and support safeguarding measures as part of our concerted efforts to preserve local ICH.

"We are also carrying out a major survey of ICH in Hong Kong to identify local elements in accordance with the framework set out in the Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH."

"We expect the survey will help identify more heritage items from local communities, groups and individuals," Mr Tsang said, adding that the survey findings would also provide a comprehensive basis for formulating further supporting measures for the preservation, promotion and enhancement of ICH.

In Hong Kong, four local ICH items, namely the Cheung Chau Jiao Festival, the Tai O dragon boat water parade, the Tai Hang fire dragon dance and the Yu Lan Ghost Festival of the Hong Kong Chiu Chow Community, have been successfully inscribed onto the third national list of intangible cultural heritage this year. Another heritage item, Cantonese opera, was inscribed onto UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

The Minister of Culture of the People's Republic of China, Dr Cai Wu, has also addressed today's panel discussion session. Other cultural ministers and senior officials attending the session have taken turns to speak on the theme and joined together to exchange views with the audience in a Q&A session.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 10:11 AM   #325
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Appearances aren't everything
The Standard
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some of the most controversial conservation proposals involve modern public sector buildings designed to serve practical purposes.

After all, there are lots of them around, and some people even say they are ugly.

As we saw with the Central Star Ferry pier and the nearby extremely basic Queen's Pier, conservation is not about appearances - it is about collective memory and social and historic context.

But some experts believe such structures do indeed have architectural value.

This is discussed in a recently published booklet by Chinese University's Vito Bertin, Gu Daqing and Woo Pui-leng called The Greatest Form Has No Shape (the title comes from the Taoist Laozi).

The booklet looks at three sites in Central: Central Market, Hollywood Road police married quarters and the Central Government Offices West Wing. The first two are being preserved, while the third is the subject of ongoing controversy.

The authors say the three buildings are outstanding for their design qualities, which are not just functional but often clever. For example, the police quarters had high ceilings, which may have compensated for the units' small size. The kitchens and balconies were across the common corridor from the actual flats, overlooking the courtyard.

This arrangement must have added not just to the space, but to the sense of community among the police families who lived there from 1951 to 2000.

In short, modern sites can have architectural as well as social value. Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old December 19th, 2011, 06:46 AM   #326
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Just leave my home alone
The Standard
Monday, December 19, 2011

The granddaughter of the man who was the first of Hong Kong's great tycoons is appealing for people to help her fight off a plan to make her 1920s-era mansion home and landscaped garden on The Peak a monument.

Ho Min-kwan says a scheme to preserve Ho Tung Gardens at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars makes no sense.

Better, she says, that she be allowed to demolish the 84-year-old sprawling mansion and replace it with 10 townhouses - she would live in one - that would occupy about half of the 120,000-square-foot site off Peak Road that overlooks Aberdeen Country Park.

The landscaped garden with a pavilion, pagoda and other features would be preserved along with its greenery, added Ho as she went public for the first time yesterday with her side of the big house story.

That included her pointing out that taxpayers will be stuck with a bill of HK$7 billion in compensation and other work if it is declared a monument.

"I will continue to live there, and I want to improve the site by building smaller houses on one section of the site," countered Ho, who is in her seventies.

"Only the main building will be replaced with more tasteful structures that will blend in with the landscape."

Ho Tung Gardens was shaped by the second but "equal" wife of Robert Ho Tung Bosman, who became famous as Sir Robert Hotung at the head of a clan that has spread and prospered since he created the family empire.

He never lived there, but some historians argue that Ho Tung Gardens is important as it stands as the first house a non-European was allowed to build on The Peak.

Other experts agree with Ho Min- kwan that the mansion is simply an uninteresting pile with a few Chinese features tagged on. They say it cannot compare with a few other "Chinese Renaissance" homes in Hong Kong such as King Yin Lei and Haw Par Mansion.That is the line that Ho pushed, saying the people of Hong Kong "should not be obliged to pay damages by way of compensation, and they will not have to unless the government declares Ho Tung Gardens a monument."

She said the existing main building is "unexceptional" and has been converted into six apartments. Her personal wish is to retain the site as her home and preserve the family legacy.

"I hope when the public knows all the facts it will agree with me that it would be a great mistake to declare Ho Tung Gardens a monument," she said.

Her plea followed Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet- ngor revealing on Saturday that the government will declare Ho Tung Gardens a protected monument before a 12-month temporary declaration expires next month. That was imposed after Ho first announced her redevelopment plan.

But Ho responded that it is simply not worth the money to make it a monument and against her wishes. "It does not have the requisite historical or architectural value or authenticity; it is not a rare example of an architectural style, and it is not a distinctive building structure.

"It does not arouse public sentiment in the same manner as other historical landmarks, such as King Yin Lei or the Queen's Pier, do or did."

Ho said the site cannot be said to be part of Hong Kong's social memory because "it is barely visible to the public and relatively unknown."

And she is not interested in a land swap. "While I do not doubt the government's good intention, I feel they have misunderstood my situation," she said.

"Unlike other cases where a land exchange has been successfully used to trade for private property, I have no desire to trade Ho Tung Gardens for a piece of land as if it is a business deal. To me, Ho Tung Gardens is my home."
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Old December 20th, 2011, 09:40 AM   #327
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Salute the heroes who defended us
The Standard
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 25, 1941, is forever remembered in Hong Kong as "Black Christmas" - the day the then-crown colony surrendered to the invading Imperial Japanese Army after a gallant defense lasting 17 days.

What followed was three years and eight months of humility, cruelty, bitterness and horror at the hands of the Japanese. But heroism, sacrifice, courage, camaraderie and love were offered by the Hong Kong people, in contrast to all evils done to them during those dark times.

Last Thursday marked the official opening of St Stephen's College Heritage Trail, located within the environs of the school in Stanley. The school walls enclose a mini history of Hong Kong, from its early colonial days to the present.

The walls also tell a story of what happened there during the bitter fighting in 1941. They stand almost like a guardian to the entrance to both Stanley Prison and Stanley Fort, which was a key defensive position as well as a military base during colonial times.

Canadians, British and our own Hong Kong soldiers were among the many brave men and women who fought and died for liberty, and a way of life they loved.

The trail gives a very detailed account of the college and its illustrious past and present achievements, but also highlights what life was like inside one of Hong Kong's few boarding schools. I was involved in the trail's development because of my friend and its benefactor, Gilbert Hung, himself a "Stephenite" (a term coined to identify a student of St Stephen's College).

The idea was born of the school's council, comprising old boys intent on letting the world know about their alma mater, as well as the significant role the buildings played in our history.

After a lot of hard work getting designs, builders and renovators, historic documents and materials - as well as donors - there was also the planning to ensure the trail could finance and manage itself well into the future.

Overcoming all difficulties, the council completed the job, and together with the donors, went on a matinee viewing on December 5.

Attending as a guest, I was very impressed with not only the proceedings, but also the tasteful design, quality of the displays and value of the information available.

For me, the special bonus was when several Canadian veterans in the defense of Stanley arrived accompanied by their relatives. They wore their medals and their unit insignias with pride - as veterans do during our own Remembrance Day ceremonies - and spoke of their time in 1941 in Hong Kong. They are proud that they and their fallen comrades are still remembered.

Seeing them reminded me of the last line of Ralph McTell's song, The Streets of London: "For one more forgotten hero, and a world that doesn't care."

But in our case, we do care! Very much so. Thank you, Stephenites, for your efforts to "keep memories alive." JS Lam served with Hong Kong police - `Asia's Finest' - for 32 years, reaching the rank of senior superintendent before retiring in 1996.

Web : http://www.ssc.edu.hk/ssctrail/eng/trail.html
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Old January 16th, 2012, 03:18 AM   #328
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It's flat crazy
The Standard
Monday, January 16, 2012

The owner of a Peak mansion and garden that is about to be declared a monument against her wishes has opened her doors as she fights against what she says will see billions of taxpayer dollars wasted.

Ho Min-kwan, a granddaughter of Hong Kong's first great tycoon, describes the villa at Ho Tung Gardens as nothing more than a collection of six glorified flats and not worthy to be seen as a historic building.

Speaking to a Sing Tao reporter just days before the government plans to take over Ho Tung Gardens, Ho - who is in her 70s - said it may now be famous because of the big plan but people have little knowledge about interior of the building constructed in the 1920s by one of the wives of her grandfather, Sir Robert Hotung.

And a tour of the mansion shows it is neither luxurious nor grand as many have imagined.

The villa with its flaking and fading paint is very simple, and the six apartments do not appear to have been maintained. The government levies separate rates on the six units.

The villa on the Peak does indeed look like just another old building.

Still, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has announced that the government will declare the entire Ho Tung Gardens a monument at the end of this month.

Ho has estimated that the total takeover package will cost taxpayers close to HK$7 billion.

Also in the 120,000 square-foot spread at 75 Peak Road - also known as Hiu Kok Yuen - that was completed in 1927 are pavilions, ponds, bridges and fruit trees, but all are showing wear. A white Buddha statue stands in the middle of a pond which, due to the lack of maintenance, is cluttered with debris and leaves.

One of the pavilions carries calligraphy of Zeng Guofan, a Chinese official from the Han Dynasty, and Zuo Zongtang, a military leader in the late Qing Dynasty.

But the paint has flaked, and Ho Min-kwan believes the works may not have been original.

The villa, however, is the main point of contention, for Ho wants to demolish it and replace it with townhouses - she would live in one - while retaining the garden features.

The villa, in fact, appear little different from an old farmhouse. There is no fine furniture to be seen, and there is no special decoration besides an old fireplace.

Ho said one of the units in the 4,000-sq-ft building was rented out before but was now vacant. In some other units, kitchen and bathroom fittings have been removed because of water leakage. Stains on the floor attest to that.

Ho said she had shelved renovation and renting-out plans as redevelopment plans took shape, though she had continued to live in one of the villa's flats.

While she didn't show the reporter around that flat, it looked quite ordinary from the outside.

Ho Tung Gardens were used by the military during World War II and suffered accordingly, Ho says, though her grandfather never actually lived there.

Ho said she finds is strange indeed that some people believe Ho Tung Gardens have historical value and are worth conserving.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 09:42 AM   #329
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Cash comes flooding in
The Standard
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Queen's Pier may be gone but it's clearly not forgotten.

Activists Chu Hoi-dick and Ho Loy, who fought a losing court battle over the pier in 2008, needed to find almost HK$300,000 to pay costs. So an internet fund-raising campaign was launched.

It generated so much support the pair were able to raise the cash in just two weeks. A total of 286 deposits, remittances and checks ranging from HK$10 to HK$10,000 were received. The pair - who faced a bill of HK$299,931.90 - closed the account on Monday after reaching their target.

The Central pier was dismantled to make way for reclamation after the activists lost a judicial review to save it.

An extra HK$9,775.50 donated before the account was formally closed will be given to Civil Human Rights Front.

It is also one less worry for Chu, who celebrated the birth of his daughter last month.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 04:56 PM   #330
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From mansion to animal house
The Standard
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

As controversy rages over the conservation of historic Ho Tung Gardens, I was invited by owner Ho Min-kwan to have afternoon tea at the mansion.

It was a rare opportunity to get an inside glimpse of the property, and I was surprised to find that its empty rooms and disused fireplace contrast starkly with its grand facade.

I remember seeing this beautiful house from a distance whenever I visited The Peak as a child, and I always wondered who lived there. Many years have passed, and the house has lost much of its grandeur.

I also didn't realize the property had been sub- leased, with Ho occupying one unit.

The Chinese Renaissance-style mansion was built by and named after her grandfather, Sir Robert Hotung, a distinguished community leader in early 20th century Hong Kong. He didn't live there, but at another mansion on Seymour Road.

Meanwhile, Ho Tung Gardens was severely damaged during the Japanese invasion and was renovated after the war. Sprawling over a 120,000-square-foot lot with an elaborate garden - complete with bridges over a brook - maintenance of the property is quite a task.

Ho, now in her 70s, said the tenants have long since moved, and her plan now is to redevelop the property into an estate with 10 detached houses. She intends to live in one after their completion, as the mansion has always been her home.

Without diligent upkeep, a grand mansion loses its luster, which is as sad to see as beauty fading from a person due to aging. Witnessing
such a sorry state of affairs with your own eyes, it's easy to understand why heirs to old properties think of redevelopment.

As the hostess was seeing the visitors out, I noticed a small house on the slope outside the front door, and I asked her what it was for.

She said it is now storage space, as it lacks water and power.

But back in the old days it was the "Donkey House," where the family kept their pet.

That revelation quickly prompted someone to joke that rich people really do live worlds apart from common folk - if even pets get their own detached house to frolic in.

Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily
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Old February 17th, 2012, 08:34 PM   #331
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Center of attention
The Standard
Friday, February 10, 2012

A HK$385 million facelift has transformed a 19th-century British former military explosives magazine compound into a new Asian hub for cultural exchanges.

The Asia Society Hong Kong Center had its grand opening yesterday with Chief Executive Donald Tsang, his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa and Hong Kong Jockey Club chairman Brian Stevenson as officiating guests.

"This center will contribute significantly to Hong Kong as a world city, a business center and a cultural hub," Asia Society Hong Kong chairman Ronnie Chan Chi-chung said.

The center, on Justice Drive in Admiralty, combines new construction with four former military buildings.

It will hold exhibitions from around Asia, the first being Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art. It will also host educational programs to celebrate the diversity of Hong Kong as a unique place where East and West meet.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 07:43 AM   #332
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Public challenge for experts
The Standard
Friday, February 24, 2012

The final decision of the government on historic Ho Tung Gardens, recently proposed as a statutory monument to protect it from redevelopment, is still pending.

The privately owned property is located at a premium site on The Peak, and its conservation has triggered an important public debate as it may involve the use of substantial public resources.

In the end, the decision on whether to conserve the property must be made by experts, and not be guided by public passion.

To this end the government has enlisted the help of Lee Ho-yin, a scholar at the University of Hong Kong, who classified the architecture of the mansion as being Chinese Renaissance and proposed its preservation.

However, as Lee is a member of the Antiquities Advisory Board, some people are questioning the propriety of engaging his services.

To his credit Lee is an active heritage conservationist. The recently restored Asia Society Hong Kong Center greatly benefited from his advice, and he is now a tour guide of the old British military building.

However, in conservation circles, Lee is known as a fearless critic.

He was highly critical when faux historic architectural-style additions were made to heritage buildings, and he slammed them as "fake antiques."

He also challenged proposals to preserve old structures that have dubious architectural value.

In the past, when a project ran into objections, the government would engage outside experts, as their opinions were considered
impartial and authoritative.

Now a better-educated public may counter expert opinions with their own and put up procedural challenges. At times government experts will find themselves embroiled in such controversies.

Clearly, it is not easy being a government expert these days, as it also involves facing the public.

Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily
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Old March 12th, 2012, 06:10 PM   #333
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Deadlock over Ho Tung mansion
The Standard
Thursday, March 08, 2012

Talks with the government over the future of Ho Tung Gardens have stalled after both sides failed to reach a consensus, the owner of The Peak landmark claims.

Ho Min-kwan, granddaughter of late businessman Robert Ho Tung, said yesterday she is not optimistic after authorities rejected her recommendations for the demolition of the main building, a mansion, on the site.

"Negotiations have already halted. There have been many rounds of negotiations already and I can only sit and wait for their final response," Ho said.

"I hope the chief executive can reach a decision soon."

Ho added that, for the time being, she will halt her appeal for the mansion to be demolished.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor confirmed that negotiations have stalled, while adding that new compensation terms have been offered, but refusing to say how much taxpayers' money will be involved.

Ho Tung Gardens is at the center of a heated public debate on whether conservation of historic sites justifies the use of substantial public resources.

The 120,000-square-foot site at 75 Peak Road was built in 1927 and comes complete with pavilions, ponds, bridges and fruit trees.

The mansion is the main point of contention, as Ho intends to demolish it and build 10 townhouses in its place, while retaining the garden features.

But the government recently announced that it will declare the entire Ho Tung Gardens site a monument as it is probably the earliest surviving example of Chinese Renaissance architecture.

Ho estimates that the total takeover package will cost taxpayers close to HK$7 billion.

She had earlier ruled out accepting a government offer of a site exchange that would give her almost exactly the same development potential of a plot ratio of 0.5 and about 10 villas of no more than four floors per building.

The designated deadline for authorities to decide whether or not to gazette the mansion as a national monument has long passed.

Lam told legislators that she is not optimistic about negotiations to conserve the property.

"I spent the past 13 to 14 months trying to find a way in which we can avoid entering legal proceedings, and also to avoid using public money, but I'm afraid that the situation is not working out well," Lam said.

She added the administration will not proceed with declaring the building a permanent monument just yet due to the owner's objections.
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Old March 20th, 2012, 06:58 PM   #334
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Clock's ticking on Ho Tung tussle
The Standard
Thursday, March 08, 2012

More than a month has passed since the one-year protection order for Ho Tung Gardens expired. Still, the future of the Peak mansion remains shrouded in suspense.

Owner Ho Min-kwan, the granddaughter of late tycoon Robert Ho Tung, said negotiations with the government have stopped, and she sees no point in any further talks.

What did the landlady want most? An answer from Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

Development minister Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor insists the ball is now in the Executive Council's court, after she recommended preservation of the property as a statutory monument.

Obviously, Exco's foot-dragging on her recommendation is symbolic of what the top policy-making body thinks about the proposal. The property owner's appeal for a quick answer is understandable. Wouldn't any normal person lose patience?

In theory, Ho can press ahead with her redevelopment plans after the expiry of the temporary protection order. But a person close to her said she isn't the kind of person to play tough. On the contrary, she wants to be gentle and respect the government.

I fear that on an individual level, if the drama is allowed to drag out unduly long, it can build to become a matter of injustice for Ho, who legitimately expects her private property rights to be ensured. There's a wider concern too. How would other property owners view their interests if the government is seen to be handling Ho's rights unjustly?

The status quo - neither vetoing or accepting Lam's recommendation - may be the best possible scenario for the government. That would certainly be the case if the owner isn't speaking up. But now that Ho has voiced her desire for an early answer, the clock has started ticking, and people are watching.

It really isn't such a complicated issue despite calls by conservationists to preserve the mansion.

I've said repeatedly that the enthusiasm over Ho Tung Gardens' so-called collective memory and historical value are confined to a small social circle.

What society fears most is the potential cost taxpayers may end up paying in the event the mansion is declared a statutory monument against the owner's will.

As said, every time Ho Tung Gardens was discussed, it's often dominated by concerns the public might have to fork out an amount large enough to redevelop Queen Mary Hospital - something in the vicinity of HK$7 billion.

Certainly, there are only a few months left in the current government's mandate. Despite repeated assurances from Tsang that his administration will continue to make policy decisions until the last minute, it's evident that major initiatives are being put on hold.

It would be pitiful if the current government can't see fit to end the suspense and ensure justice for the legal owner.
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Old April 28th, 2012, 07:50 AM   #335
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Lui Seng Chun Reopens
http://scm.hkbu.edu.hk/lsc/en/index.html

Lui Seng Chun is an old Chinese shophouse (tong lau) originally owned by Mr. Lui Leung, a renowned businessman who moved to Hong Kong from Taishan county in Guangdong province. Designed and built by architect W.H. Bourne, the building was completed in 1931 with a total gross floor area of 600 square metres. Typical of all tong laus at the time, the ground floor of the four-storey building was used as shops while the upper floors were used as dwellings.

Since the 1960s, the Lui family began to move out of the building as the family continued to grow in size. The building became vacant in the 1970s. In 2000, the Antiquities Advisory Board designated Lui Seng Chun a Grade I historic building. With the vision of preserving the building and to contribute to society, the Lui family decided to donate the building to the Government in the same year.

The Lui Seng Chun building was included in Batch I of the "Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme" initiated by the Government in 2008 and, after a bidding process, Hong Kong Baptist University was selected to conserve the building and convert it into a Chinese medicine healthcare centre. The revitalisation work was completed in early 2012 and the clinic, Hong Kong Baptist University School of Chinese Medicine – Lui Seng Chun, commenced operations in April 2012.

In terms of heritage conservation, every effort was made to retain the original architectural features as far as possible. Necessary alterations and addition works were carried out in compliance with modern buildings and fire regulations as well as meeting the operational needs of the clinic. In the process, the University adhered to the basic principle of minimising the impact of the alterations while ensuring that all alterations could be reversed if necessary.

image hosted on flickr

IMG_0024 by hoho321, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_0024 by hoho321, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

IMG_0024 by hoho321, on Flickr
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Old June 8th, 2012, 12:18 PM   #336
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Tai O past gets unstilted narrative
The Standard
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The old Tai O police station on Lantau opened as a heritage-themed hotel this year.

Now the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Association has published a bilingual book, in collaboration with architectural experts from the University of Hong Kong, entitled Old Tai O Police Station - the Evolution of a Centenary Monument.

Space does not allow me to describe its contents in detail, but it covers a lot, from the history of Tai O - the famous fishing village on stilts - to that of police stations in Hong Kong, to the design and function of the Tai O facility, to some wonderful oral histories from former police officers who worked there. It also includes a lot of photos and diagrams.

This covers a lot of ground, from Tai O's salt manufacturing industry, to a pirate attack on the village in 1926, to the class and ethnic divisions within the police station (which you can also see from the older group photographs of the officers and men).

It is a fascinating story - not simply about one building, but the whole community around it.

Not least, the book describes the philosophy behind the complex's preservation, the renovations and the ways in which the Tai O community has been involved, and how the hotel benefits society as a non-profit social enterprise.

It also has a very high quality design. If you are interested in Hong Kong history, check with bookstores or libraries to find it. Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old June 10th, 2012, 05:43 AM   #337
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Heritage can find home anywhere
The Standard
Monday, June 04, 2012

Hong Kong has more than 3,000 buildings that have withstood the test of time for over 50 years but which may now pose a threat to the health and safety of their residents and passers-by.

Many such cases may involve owners failing or neglecting to upgrade their premises to keep up with current building or safety standards.

For instance, stairwells are too steep or narrow for access during fire emergencies, while building materials have often deteriorated to a stage when cracking, chipping and peeling may endanger bystanders.

It is often in owners' best interests to renovate and spruce up buildings, upgrading elevators, electrical wiring, gas systems and windows, and making other fire and safety improvements.

These basics point to the importance of building maintenance if a structure is to continue to defy age.

From a preservation point of view, it is vital to conserve appropriately if we want to put the brakes on the process of old buildings disappearing constantly.

The Blue House and 1881 Heritage are prime examples of what can be done to redevelop and revitalize older buildings that have outlived their initial purpose.

The Blue House was the centerpiece of a multimillion-dollar plan by the Housing Society and Urban Renewal Authority to preserve nine Chinese-style buildings in Wan Chai that sprung up in the 1920s. The project was completed last year.

Meanwhile, 1881 Heritage in Tsim Sha Tsui was transformed by a developer into a shopping mall, heritage hotel and exhibition hall.

But those adherents of the conservation cause have reached a crossroad: how far should they go? And what should be the guiding principles?

One cannot argue that all old buildings are worth preserving. Therefore, the question is how does one value a building, its historical background and architectural merits? Do we measure the impact it has had on Hong Kong's history, its residents and neighborhood? Or do we do so simply because it's rare and worth preserving?

We often find the so-called values differ among government officials, residents, professional appraisal firms and academics. Perhaps a building - like fashion - is very personal, and it's hard to place a value based on quantifiable elements. The sentimental value often clouds or overwhelm its true value.

But we can't live in a city of museums. Converting residential buildings to other uses would reduce actual housing supply in our already overheated property market. It would be like pouring fuel on a fire in a bubble situation.

Just because a building of conservation value cannot continue with its founding mission of serving as a home because it is getting on doesn't mean the only solution is to transform it into a museum.

It's almost tragic to resort to transformation as a form of preservation - stripping a building's body and soul and retrofitting it with visitors who have no true connection to the building itself.

Architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon don't always see eye to eye.
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Old June 14th, 2012, 03:48 AM   #338
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Going full tilt
The Standard
Tuesday, June 05, 2012

When the US-based Savannah College of Art and Design won a bid to convert the former North Kowloon Magistracy building into a new campus in February 2009, some critics opined that such a historical building should have been given to a local institution, which would have appreciated its heritage more.

But SCAD students have shown that they are aware of their privileges. The school launched Tilting the Lens: Telling the Story of Sham Shui Po at the recent Hong Kong International Art Fair.

A picture is worth a thousand words - and this book has more than 200 photographs. They are an artistic documentation of the people, architectural heritage and ever-changing cityscape of one of Hong Kong's oldest districts.

Year Three students of photography, historical preservation and graphic design courses came together to create the book.

"Given that the school is located in Sham Shui Po, the real impetus of the book was seeing how the students were influenced by the location itself," said photography professor Steve Aishman.

"The students would come in and tell these fantastic stories about the place and the people they were meeting."

What started off as an end-of-year project gained momentum, stimulated by the relationship that developed between the students and the local community. Photography became a form of communication as the locals cooperated with the students by allowing - sometimes even inviting - their photos to be taken.

"The entire institution was interested in showing off how interesting this community was, and sort of thanking them for being so welcoming to the school," Aishman said.

The campus is located on Tai Po Road in Shek Kip Mei, not too far from the hustle and bustle of Sham Shui Po.

"This neighborhood is really unique," Aishman said. "Everyone treats it like it's nothing, but this is a part of history, vital history that in many ways we would enjoy highlighting, and saying how important it is for us to be in a neighborhood that has architecture and a lifestyle that has been around for a century."

Sham Shui Po was one of the earliest developed areas in Hong Kong. With its history of being the commercial and industrial hub of the city in the 1990s, the district is very popular today with local traders and retailers.

"In the book, you can see how the students are looking at what they see around them and transforming, translating and highlighting them in an interesting and impactful way," Aishman said.

The entire process involved the photography students, who were responsible for taking the photos, the historic preservation students who captioned them - in both English and Chinese - and finally, the graphic design students who arranged all these elements on the page.

"The bigger issue that the students had to learn was how to put together such a large project," Aishman explained.

"They would take these really amazing photographs and they would have these great experiences with this community, and then they have to work with the graphic design students in order to tell the story in the richest way possible."

SCAD, a private, nonprofit, accredited institution has branches in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, and in Lacoste, France.

"SCAD already has this huge history in producing hard quality artists who can go out and function in whatever field they want. SCAD Hong Kong is mostly interested in participating in the entire growth of creativity across all of Asia," Aishman said.

With the territory stepping up its game in the arts field, more institutions are emphasizing creativity.

"Hong Kong has this incredible base of education and it's just in the blood," Aishman said. "The entire culture is about education - and that's so fantastic to see as an educator."

Apart from SCAD, several other establishments - including the Hong Kong Art School, Hong Kong Arts Centre and the Academy for Performing Arts - provide similar wide- ranging art courses.

"Clearly, Hong Kong is on the verge of busting open for creativity. We see how the government is interested in putting together art fairs, and how funding is going very well into this," Aishman said. "It's just an exciting time to be around arts and creativity."

The book is now available at select Bookazine and GOD stores throughout Hong Kong for HK$480.
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Old July 4th, 2012, 11:07 AM   #339
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Historic buildings are not just museums
The Standard
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ask people what a preserved historic building should be used for and many will say a museum. But there can be other uses. For instance, the old magistracy in North Kowloon is now an arts school, while Central Market will be an indoor park.

Then there is Lui Seng Chun, the 1931 shophouse overlooking an intersection on Lai Chi Kok Road in Mong Kok. It is a distinctive building, with columns and verandas wrapped around in a curve, following the triangular pattern of the intersection below. Conserved features after renovation include wooden staircase balusters, doors and windows and original floor tiles.

As part of the revitalization, the building had a fire escape and a lift installed. Soundproof glass was used to reduce street traffic noise, which is probably a lot worse than it was in the 1930s. This work was important because the building was earmarked for a special use.

As with most traditional tong lau buildings, the ground floor had been used as retail space, while the rest was occupied as family homes.

Lui Leung, who built the structure, originally had a Chinese medicine shop on the ground floor. His family donated the building to Hong Kong in 2000.

And what better purpose for the building but to house a clinic, run by Baptist University's School of Chinese Medicine? It opened in April, and the ground floor includes a public display area and herbal tea shop.

Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 05:38 PM   #340
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Tai O Police Station (now a heritage-theme hotel)



Source : http://www.fotop.net/KennethL
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