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Old August 29th, 2013, 03:35 PM   #361
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Move to preserve historic lodge
Conservationists want to keep the summer home of colonial governors that was also the scene of secret Sino-British talks before the handover
7 August 2013
South China Morning Post


Photo source : http://www.ceo.gov.hk/eng/blog/blog20121119.html

Heritage advisers will be rating Fanling Lodge, the 80-year-old summer residence of colonial governors that is facing an uncertain future because of a new town development.

Already, some of them say the lodge - which was the scene of secret Sino-British talks before the 1997 handover - is historically significant and should be preserved and used as a public facility in a future new town.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has used it to host top government advisers and ordinary Hongkongers, such as students.

The South China Morning Post learned that the lodge recently made it to a list of 200 newly identified sites slated for historic grading by the Antiquities Advisory Board, which has been rating 1,440 such sites in the past few years.

Last month, Leung said he was willing to surrender the lodge for a new town development. A study, covering the site and the surrounding Hong Kong Golf Club, would start next year.

Asked if this meant the lodge would be demolished, a Development Bureau spokeswoman said: "It is too early to tell.

"The advisory board would flexibly advance its discussion on the grading of a new item [among the 200] in case of cogent needs such as demolition threat."

Fanling Lodge, tucked behind trees and skirting of one of the golf courses, has since 1934 served as a retreat for the city's governors and chief executives. It has also housed visiting dignitaries. Former British prime minister John Major stayed there in 1996 when Chris Patten ruled.

The two-storey, five-bedroom country house stands on a 2.3 hectare site and has a swimming pool, wood-and-stone pergola, tennis court, guardhouse, Chinese-style pavilion and other outbuildings.

The lodge was proposed by governor Sir William Peel in 1932, Antiquities Monuments Office records showed. It was designed by architect Stanley Feltham of the then public works department and completed at a cost of HK$140,000.

Board member Tony Lam Chung-wai said Feltham was an important government architect who took charge of designing many public buildings, including Sai Wan estate in Kennedy Town, which still exists. "Given the site's relationship to the colonial history, it deserves at least a grade two" in the three-tier system, the conservation architect said.

"I don't think the new town development means the lodge has to be demolished. The government can keep it for community use and it can become the centre of a public park."

Former board member Lee Ho-yin agreed, saying it was common conservation practice overseas to preserve a historic block as public space and the central part of a new development. "The lodge is huge and it is easy to give it a new use."
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Old September 11th, 2013, 09:02 AM   #362
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Shek O bus terminus gets heritage upgrade
Government advisers grant grade-two status to historical Shek O building in Hollywood film
South China Morning Post
Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 4:35am

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Quite a queue at the Bus Terminus by antwerpenR, on Flickr

A 58-year-old bus terminus that was in a Hollywood movie scene will get a higher historical status, government heritage advisers have decided.

The terminus, which was featured in Steven Soderbergh's 2011 film Contagion starring Matt Damon and Jude Law, was built in Shek O in 1955 by the now-defunct China Motor Bus, which operated routes on Hong Kong Island. It was used as a watchman's quarters and garage.

The two-storey privately owned building was one of the few non-residential architectural examples still standing in the Southern District, the Antiquities Advisory Board noted at its meeting yesterday.

A lower grade-three status had been initially proposed, but many on the 23-member board, as well as Shek O residents, believed it merited a higher rating.

"The building was constructed in a very unique cantilevered style. The assessment panel has decided to upgrade it from grade three to grade two," board chairman Andrew Lam Siu-lo said as he announced the majority decision.

"The grading reflects the special merits of higher architectural and heritage value."

The terminus, which sits on government land, is known for its large cantilevered balcony, mono-pitched flat roof and art-deco lettering on the fascia.

The board concluded the building was designed in a unique Bauhaus style of architecture, which promotes clean, modern lines and functionality.

A changing room previously occupied the upper floor, with an office on the lower floor. Drivers of CMB, which once held a monopoly on Hong Kong Island bus routes, used the building as a rest area after long trips into Shek O.

The board also approved converting an 81-year-old wing at Kowloon Hospital in Kowloon City into a training centre and office for the Hospital Authority.

Block M, which once housed a maternity ward, is now a storage and function room for staff members. Built in the classical revival style, it is one of 10 graded historical buildings on the site. It was granted a grade-two status in 2009.

"From a historical point of view, Kowloon Hospital has significant value as it was the first public hospital built on the Kowloon Peninsula," Lam said.

He said the board endorsed the conversion of old buildings for new uses as long as mitigation measures were put in place to safeguard architectural, design and heritage values.
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Old October 10th, 2013, 04:52 AM   #363
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Pok Fu Lam Village on global risk list
The Standard
Thursday, October 10, 2013



Pok Fu Lam Village is one of 67 global cultural heritage sites that needs to be preserved, according to the World Monuments Fund.

It is the first time that a site in Hong Kong has been put on the fund's World Monuments Watch, which is published every two years.

The New York-based fund said the modest appearance of the village belies its historical importance.

The settlement perched on a hillside to the west of Hong Kong Island, is characterized by narrow lanes and alleys twisting through the village, around small traditional buildings and newer structures, the fund said. It highlights the remnants of the original Dairy Farm building, set up in Pok Fu Lam in 1886, to provide Hong Kong with fresh milk, and the traditional Fire Dragon Dance held there annually during the Mid- Autumn festival, as features that provide a rich setting for the village.

"This remarkable survivor is now facing pressure from urban redevelopment plans, including a proposal to convert unoccupied Dairy Farm workers' dormitories to high-density housing," the fund said.

"Stringent squatter control policies make it hard for villagers to repair their dwellings, as they are required to use materials that were registered at the time of the last occupancy survey, which was conducted in the 1980s."

It called for the sustainable management of Pok Fu Lam, allowing for the upgrading of building stock to "best serve this intimate community and will contribute to the preservation of the diversity of Hong Kong's urban space."

The village is one of two sites in the region that is on its 2014 watch list.

The other is Singapore's Bukit Brown cemetery.

The 2014 World Monuments Watch includes the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri; war-torn Syria's Citadel in Aleppo; Tanzania's Dar es Salaam; and tens of thousands of gas lamps in Berlin.

Founded in 1965, the nonprofit body has tried to preserve 740 architectural and cultural sites in 133 countries.
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Old November 17th, 2013, 02:09 PM   #364
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Preserving Pok Fu Lam village is a chance to save some of city's history
17 November 2013
South China Morning Post

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Pok Fu Lam Village day time study by briyen, on Flickr

Hundreds of humble huts and small houses perch on a hillside in the middle-class neighbourhood of Pok Fu Lam. Between them, narrow alleys lead to small shops, green fields and historic structures that were once part of Hong Kong's largest dairy farm.

Here is where villagers perform their annual Fire Dragon Dance each autumn, where the animal, made of straw and pungent with incense, confers blessings on those nearby.

For decades, Pok Fu Lam village has crouched in the shadow of the residential high-rises of Chi Fu Fa Yuen. The village has been categorised as a squatter area, and is constantly under threat of development. This makes the 2,800 residents of the 150-year-old village - one of the last on Hong Kong Island - uneasy.

Efforts to preserve this special place won support last month. Pok Fu Lam was named on a list compiled by the World Monuments Fund, a New York-based organisation seeking to preserve architectural and cultural sites. Also making the list was Venice, where dredging is creating floods, and Yangon's historic city centre in Myanmar.

Fund executive vice-president Henry Ng acknowledges that the village, dating back to at least 1868, is "not like many of our other sites", which are better known and have greater architectural merit. Ng says it is important because it is "pre-British", and even "pre-modern". It even lacks a modern sewage system.

"It's one of the last such villages in Hong Kong," Ng says. "If you lose something singular, you can never get it back. You lose a whole chunk of history."

Villagers fear that their preservation efforts could end there. How can they save Pok Fu Lam when the city lacks a system to conserve an entire area?

In a city that dazzles with glass and steel, , Pok Fu Lam village is one of many places in Hong Kong where people are crying out to save the rich, often forgotten, native history amid a land rush for more development. Preservationists are frustrated by a system that protects individual buildings only, not entire districts.

Local residents and community groups have been fighting for a heritage zone designation for Sheung Wan and Government Hill in Central in recent years. Sheung Wan is the childhood home of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China. Government Hill was the seat of the colonial administration as far back as the 1840s.

In both cases the preservationists' attempts failed under the present historic building grading system, which stipulates that the higher the rating awarded, the greater the chance the government will stop a private owner from redeveloping the building.

But the rating system does not protect an entire street or district. That is why many historic village houses within the 500-year-old walled village of Kat Hing Wai in Yuen Long have been redeveloped despite the grade-one historic status given by the Antiquities Advisory Board.

"If Hong Kong is to revamp the policy, the government should first adopt the international conservation charters, and then formulate a conservation management plan for each area that's worth protection," says Conservancy Association director Albert Lai Kwong-tak.

"Pok Fu Lam village and Government Hill can be made an example to show the world that we do respect our history."

The village contains a few historic structures that were part of the dairy farm, including an octagonal cowshed, a main office building and a two-storey Western-style house used as staff quarters. The cowshed and office building have a grade-two status under the city's heritage classification, while the house has the top grade of one.

Hong Kong's conservation policies, together with the squatter status of the village, have hindered preservation, Ng says. In the modern concept of conservation, heritage should be looked at with a holistic approach, in which both architecture and the surrounding landscape should be considered. He hopes the village will garner more attention after making the list, so Hongkongers will eventually realise the village is "something special".

Dr Lee Ho-yin, an architectural conservation expert at the University of Hong Kong, shares Ng's view. Realising that some critics say the village is not pretty, he says: "This list is not a beauty contest list. It's a warning notice."

More than one-third of the houses in the village are categorised as squatter and licensed temporary housing, which means they must stay as they were when registered in the 1980s. The remainder sit on private land and owners cannot rebuild them because, without a sewage system, the sites would not meet building regulations.

Lee says the government does not need to inject much money into the village to preserve it.

"They just need to lift the squatter status, so the villagers feel secure and they would improve the village by themselves,'' he says. "Usually when the government gets too involved, they try to attract tourists to the area, who are not helpful in preserving the village environment."

Lee says that once the villagers start improving the environment the village's hidden gems would become clearer to outsiders.

The Development Bureau said it recognises the historical value of the village and is reviewing conservation policy.

Alun Siu Kwan-lun grew up in Pok Fu Lam village and is a conservation activist. The first step to improve the village's living environment would be a sewage system, he says. After years of negotiations, the government had finally agreed to build a system for the village, and now the proposal awaits Legislative Council funding approval. There are only four public toilets in the village. "Can you imagine that?" Siu says. "Private toilets for us are a luxury and a childhood dream."

Siu moved away from the village for 10 years two decades ago "because of curiosity", but came back because he missed the culture and close relationships in the village. He lives there with his wife and three-year-old son, Burn Siu Chun-nam, who likes the fire dragon dance a lot.

As Siu walks the alleys, he is greeted by fellow villagers Hidy Tam and Leung Ming-chung.

Tam, like Siu, lives in the village because of her parents. A former real estate agent, the 54-year-old has never thought of leaving. "I've developed a strong attachment to the village, and you can't find such relationships with neighbours in high rises," she says. "I know everyone here."

Her house is one of the sturdier ones, made of bricks, but she is critical of the squatter policy which prevents owners from modifying their huts. "Some houses are made of wood. That's dangerous,'' she says. "When there's a fire, they will be destroyed in seconds."

Leung, 61, also says he has no intention of leaving the village. His brother bought a house there before the squatter registration, and he moved in two decades ago when his brother no longer wanted to live there .

Leung grew up in a squatter area in Tai Hang, and has lived in public housing in Chai Wan. "I think fate brings me to these squatter areas," the construction worker says.

Siu says the village does not deserve its squatter status, and hopes the government will lift it one day. "There is a house where a family has lived for seven generations, but the land it is on is classified as government land. How is that possible?" he asks. "The family was there before the British came into Hong Kong."

He says the ownership of 65 per cent of private land in the village was confusing and very often even the families living in the houses did not know who actually owned them because of a lack of proper records.

Siu says the residents want the entire area to be zoned for village use, so the village can't be changed much in the future. "We don't want any big changes," he says. "Just let us improve what we think is necessary."

Additional reporting by Olga Wong
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Old December 11th, 2013, 11:11 AM   #365
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Abandoned Tai Po school to be resurrected as ‘museum of childhood’
Monday, 09 December, 2013, 12:15pm
South China Morning Post

Tucked away amid scrubland on a hillside, an abandoned primary school covered in mould has emerged as a potential "museum of childhood".

Collector and artist Joel Chung Yin-chai is trying to raise about HK$100 million to convert the old Man Ming School in Tai Mei Tuk, Tai Po, into a showcase for toys, comics and schoolbooks – some more than 100 years old.

The school was shut down more than a decade ago as student numbers dwindled, but Chung believes that once restored and reinvented, it could boost tourism in the area, which is popular with cyclists and for barbecues.

“Many of these schools were left behind as ruins after being killed off,” said Chung, who has the biggest collection of graffiti by the late “King of Kowloon” Tsang Tsou-choi. “The project can serve educational purposes and carve out an archive on childhood.”

Chung and his research team recently discovered more than 200 “dead” schools in villages across Hong Kong. Some had already been reduced to rubble.

Some of them yielded old scorecards, furniture and stationery dating back to the 1960s.

Chung has at least 30,000 antique and vintage toys, and at least 10,000 school-related documents plus heaps of comics and schoolbooks.

“We have no lack of content but we need a self-sustained business model to keep the planned museum going,” Chung said.

Chung said the Tai Po district council was supportive of the project, which fits into its plans to develop tourism development as the museum is located near the controversial artificial beach set to be developed at Lung Mei.

Councillor Au Chun-wah said he supported the idea of opening a toy museum at the abandoned school.

“If Mr Chung is able to raise the money needed to open the museum, it could be beneficial to the district’s tourism industry as the idea is special. I’m sure adults and children are both interested in visiting a toy museum as everyone plays with toys when they’re young,” said Au.

Meanwhile the Federation of Hong Kong Industries and the Hong Kong Toys Council are in talks with the Hong Kong Museum of History over holding a toy exhibition.

Toys Council committee member Yeung Chi-kong said the two trade bodies ultimately wanted to set up a permanent museum dedicated to toys produced in the city.

The toy industry was seen as a pillar industry during the city’s economic take-off in the 1970s, although manufacturing has since moved onto the mainland where costs are lower.

“Looking for a permanent location is challenging and we need expertise in maintaining the collection in a financially sustainable manner,” Yeung said. “We hope to start off with a medium-term exhibition by working with a local partner.”

A Museum of History spokeswoman said discussions were in the “initial” stages and that the three parties were looking into the feasibility of a three- to four-month exhibition.
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Old December 17th, 2013, 10:26 AM   #366
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Mansion in ideas line again
The Standard
Tuesday, December 17, 2013



The government is seeking new proposals for the revitalization of a declared monument - King Yin Lei mansion on Stubbs Road.

It is the second time that non-profitmaking organizations have been invited to submit plans for the historic Mid-Levels building after two proposals in a previous round were not selected.

Batch IV of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme includes King Yin Lei along with No12 School Street, the Old Dairy Farm senior staff quarters in Pok Fu Lam and and Lady Ho Tung Welfare Centre at Kwu Tung, Sheung Shui.

Twelve projects selected under the first three batches are at different stages of development.

King Yin Lei was the first privately owned historic building preserved through the provision of economic incentives.

No 12 School Street will become a recreational center; the Old Diary Farm quarters will be a dining center; and the Lady Ho Tung building will be a tourist center. Commissioner for Heritage Vivian Ko Wai-kwan said all have historical value.
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Old January 27th, 2014, 07:12 PM   #367
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Tai O Police Station

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Tai O lookout by vinceccwan2013, on Flickr
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Old February 13th, 2014, 04:35 AM   #368
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Peak residents angry over land swap aimed at saving historic Hong Kong mansion
South China Morning Post
4 February 2014


Source : http://www.hwpg.com/

Residents on The Peak are mounting a campaign against a government land swap devised to save a 127-year-old mansion from destruction.

A piece of green belt land adjacent to Aberdeen Country Park with views of the South China Sea was selected by the owner of the mansion at 23 Coombe Road ahead of nine other plots, the locations of which officials have refused to disclose.

Occupants of neighbouring Carolina Gardens say the proposal - under which 49 trees would be felled to make way for a luxury house of up to 6,000 sq ft - will spoil the environment and disrupt traffic.

"We are not against the preservation of old buildings, but development encroaching on a country park," said Leo Barretto, chairman of the Incorporated Owners of Blocks A and B of the private residential estate.

The Coombe Road mansion, given grade one historic status in 2011, was built in 1887 as the residence of Irish soldier-turned-barrister John Joseph Francis and is probably the oldest surviving European house on The Peak, according to official records.

The present owner, a company under Hutchison Whampoa, had earlier obtained Buildings Department approval to demolish the mansion for redevelopment.

It applied to the Town Planning Board last month to rezone the 1,100-square-metre substitute site for low-density residential development.

A tree survey commissioned by the developer found 67 trees on the site, including a dead one. In its supporting application documents, it proposed that 16 would be transplanted nearby while 49 would be felled "mainly due to their poor form and a low predicted transplantation survival rate". In compensation, 34 other trees would be planted.

Ten potential sites had been identified for the land swap during the negotiation process and three were selected for further examination before the present proposed site was chosen, the documents also revealed.

Carolina Gardens residents have collected more than 420 signatures from residents, hikers and users of playgrounds in the area to be submitted to the board to express their objection. They also criticised the developer for not having conducted a transport impact assessment.

District councillor Ivan Wong Wang-tai is sceptical of the plan. "Why did the developer just pick this site with a sea view out of 10 choices?" he asked.

A spokeswoman for the Development Bureau refused to disclose the locations of the nine other sites considered. "We have explored, on a confidential and no-commitment basis, various preservation-cum-development proposals with the owner's representatives of 23 Coombe Road," she said.

A full market-value premium would be assessed by the Lands Department if the land swap materialised, she added.

Hutchison Whampoa declined to comment.
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Old March 8th, 2014, 01:38 PM   #369
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150-year-old wall to move for redevelopment in Hong Kong
5 March 2014
South China Morning Post

A historic stone wall in Admiralty is likely to be damaged under development plans for the new Central harbourfront that require its temporary removal, the government's heritage advisers have warned.

A 35-metre section of the wall, which is more than 150 years old, falls within a site on Cotton Tree Drive earmarked for a pumping station. The Water Supplies Department plans to remove the wall and then reinstate it after work is completed.

But members of the Antiquities Advisory Board warned it would get damaged.

"I am very much against the idea of destroying a piece of built heritage and then reinstating it," board member Tim Ko Tim-keung told two department engineers at a meeting yesterday.

"It is rare for a defence structure as old as this wall to survive."

The board demanded the department find ways to save it.

The Central harbourfront project covers a series of developments from Central to Wan Chai.

Under the administration's plan, the Harcourt Road Fresh Water Pumping Station along the harbourfront in Wan Chai will be moved next to Flagstaff House, part of the Victoria Barracks from 1846 to 1979 and now home to the Museum of Tea Ware.

The house is a statutory monument, but the boundary wall is not under statutory protection.

"It will be a pity if the wall has to be removed and then reinstated, although I understand there are technical difficulties [in the relocation of the pumping station]," board member Dr Joseph Ting Sun-pao said.

Department engineers Albert Cheung King-min and Fung Yuk-ming initially told the board that temporary removal was the best option because the wall was vulnerable and therefore unsuitable for being lifted up while the construction works were ongoing.

When pressed further to study alternative solutions, they said it was not impossible but "the works could cost millions of dollars. Is it worth spending taxpayers' money in this way?"

Cheung pleaded with the board members to approve the plan immediately because time was running out.

"We have to apply to the [Legislative Council's] Finance Committee for funding in June. If we can't start working now, the whole project will be delayed … The government hopes to finish relocating the pumping station by 2019."

The board withheld its approval yesterday and asked the department to submit a report on possible ways to preserve the wall.

Chairman Andrew Lam Siu-lo said they could make a decision by circulating the report before their next meeting, given the urgency of the matter.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 05:06 PM   #370
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Hutchison deal for Peak home On hold
18 March 2014
South China Morning Post





Plans to build luxury house on green-belt site delayed after public opposition to a swap involving neighbouring historic mansion

Hutchison Whampoa has put on hold plans to build a luxury house at a government-owned green-belt site on The Peak after neighbours voiced their opposition and district councillors demanded a rethink.

The plans were part of a land swap deal with the government to preserve a neighbouring heritage building.

The developer, headed by Li Ka-shing, has withdrawn a rezoning application for the site on Coombe Road and one opposite that houses a 127-year-old mansion the company had earlier wanted to redevelop.

The Development Bureau said the company had withdrawn the application “with a view to taking into account the comments received and to make improvements on the proposal before submitting it to the Town Planning Board again”.

A bureau spokeswoman did not elaborate and Hutchison Whampoa declined to comment.

Under the arrangement between the bureau and the mansion’s owner, a Hutchison Whampoa subsidiary, the government offered the green-belt plot in exchange for the mansion site. Each site has an area of 1,100 square metres.

As a result, the company had applied to have the mansion rezoned from residential to heritage conservation and the opposite plot from green belt to residential use.

The withdrawal of the application last Thursday followed a request by Wan Chai District Council members at a meeting two days earlier.

“Councillors and residents think that the site to be swapped under the present proposal is not the only choice available,” council chairman Suen Kai-cheong said.

“Residents consider that building a house there would cause nuisance and obstruct the view. The site is also adjacent to the Aberdeen Country Park, meaning the environment may be affected,” Suen said.

“The government has provided insufficient information for us to decide whether to support or to oppose the plan. We don’t even know the locations of possible alternative sites … We decided to ask the developer to withdraw its application and to do a more thorough consultation.”

The head of a local owners’ corporation, James Kiam-leng Lim, said residents would wait and see what the developer does.

“We don’t think they are going to stop there,” said Lim, chairman of the Incorporated Owners of C and D Carolina Gardens. Lim has collected signatures of flat owners opposed to the deal.

Central and Western district councillor Joseph Chan Ho-lim, who discussed the issue with the bureau’s assistant secretary for heritage conservation, Queenie Lee Lai-kwan, on Friday, said he understood the government was open to the suggestion of finding another site for the swap.

The mansion is a European-style home built by Irish soldier-turned-barrister John Joseph Francis in 1887.
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Old March 30th, 2014, 10:25 AM   #371
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Pressing case for a heritage body
13 March 2014
South China Morning Post



Heritage has seemingly been a word little heard with the government so focused on housing and economic development. Yet the need for conservation of buildings and places important to Hong Kong’s history remains as necessary today as in 2007, when protests over the Star Ferry and Queen’s piers in Central prompted officials to promise a rethink of policies. Changes have been made, but they are far from being enough to ensure adequate protection and preservation. That is unlikely to happen without a strong institutional framework, based on legislation and perhaps a properly empowered foundation or trust.

The present approach is piecemeal, largely done on a building-by-building basis by a range of government agencies. No single entity is in charge, making for inconsistencies and uncertainties. The demolition last year of historic Ho Tung mansion on The Peak despite being given last-minute interim monument grading, is telling; so, too, is the inability of the government to find a suitable tenant for the former French Mission Building on Government Hill, also a declared monument. For the former, the issue was the HK$7 billion price tag the owner wanted; in the case of the latter, it is the unknown cost of repairs and renovation that an occupant could face. An independent, well-funded heritage trust designated as a statutory body could resolve such matters.

Whether our city needs such an authority is among questions expected to be included in a planned public consultation on how to preserve private historic buildings. It is an essential element of reviewing our city’s heritage policy, but the process has been pushed back to at least the middle of the year by issues seen as more pressing. The matter is not unimportant and must not be further delayed; residents want more from life than simply providing for their families. Being able to enjoy the best of the past gives a sense of belonging, instils civic pride and provides richer living.

That desire has driven the heritage movement and it is why the consultation should not be taken lightly. What is important from our past will remain vulnerable as long as heritage policy remains determined by commercial considerations, cost-saving and raising revenue. Grading buildings, providing grants and subsidies is not enough; an independent entity with financial means and a legislative-backed mandate for all aspects of conservation could well be the solution.
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Old April 4th, 2014, 05:12 AM   #372
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Historic mansion clinches housing project
The Standard
Friday, April 04, 2014

Jessville, the 82-year-old historic mansion in Pok Fu Lam, has been approved for conversion into a four- unit premise with a new residential building next to it.
The Buildings Department yesterday gave the green light for the preservation-cum development project located on 128 Pok Fu Lam Road.

Currently owned by the son of retired barrister and magistrate William Thomas Tam Ngar-tse, the father in law of former chief justice Yang Ti-liang, the existing two-story Italian Renaissance-style house will house four flats and its facade stays.

Another 33 new flats will be offered at the adjacent new 16-story residential tower, with three lower-ground levels to be used for clubhouse and other recreational facilities. The approval came a year after William Nixon Thomas Tam Ching and the Development Bureau agreed on the land premiums.

Also yesterday, plans for a low-rise development on 15-18 Stubbs Road in East Mid-Levels controlled by Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) was approved as well. The plot covers the former Lingnan College. Around HK$8 billion will be invested in the 24-block project.

Meanwhile, a 1,144-unit development - also by SHKP - on a 212,000-square-foot site in Pinehill Village, Tai Po, is likely to be rejected by the government, which may build a 6,530-unit public estate there. The Planning Department yesterday said it does not support SHKP's proposal and even asked to take back its 91,500 sq ft space. The Town Planning Board will make a decision today.

The secondary home market, meanwhile, saw a 1,129 square-foot flat at Grand Promenade in Sai Wan Ho being offloaded at a loss of as much as HK$3 million. The four-room flat was sold for HK$22.28 million.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 03:35 PM   #373
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Let’s get serious about heritage
16 June 2014
South China Morning Post

A city’s character is often said to be defined by the way it preserves the past. Over the years, so many heritage buildings have been knocked down that there seems little left to evoke our colourful East-meets-West history. This trend may have slowed in the wake of the Star Ferry Clock Tower and Queen’s Pier demolition sagas, which forced the government to pay closer attention to buildings under threat of redevelopment. But apart from a handful of applause-winning projects, conservation remains a case of two steps forward, one step back.

An example is the government’s failure to save the historic Ho Tung Gardens on The Peak, which would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars in compensation to the owner. This shows conservation is still knee-jerk rather than backed by a comprehensive regime. As the existing heritage grading system has no legal power to stop owners from redeveloping properties with heritage value, at least 18 of the 1,444 government-graded buildings have already been flattened. Another eight have been substantially altered.

Belated as it is, the two-month public consultation by the Antiquities Advisory Board brings hope of a change. Some ideas are worthy of further exploration, such as the establishment of a heritage trust. The board is right in saying that a trust will help promote public participation, foster overseas exchange and explore new funding sources through donations, membership fees, property rentals and souvenir sales. But even if the trust has generous government funding to start with, questions remain as to how much money the public is willing to pay to save a historic building from the wreckage ball. Given the majority in the built heritage list are privately owned, long-term sustainability is a key issue.

In a money-minded city, the pursuit of profit means old buildings are always under threat. While property rights must be respected, the need to preserve our past should not be swept aside. The consultation is an opportunity to engage the public in serious discussion on how to strike the right balance.
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Old June 27th, 2014, 06:28 PM   #374
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Lugard Road hotel plan faces more legwork
26 June 2014
South China Morning Post



Opponents of a planned boutique hotel on a narrow, winding lane up to The Peak are not appeased by a government proposal to extend traffic restrictions.

At a Legislative Council meeting yesterday, Transport and Housing Secretary Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the Transport Department proposed tightening restrictions on traffic to the grade-two heritage mansion at 27 Lugard Road, which developer Crown Empire plans to turn into a luxury hotel.

The Town Planning Board gave its approval for the hotel in September, despite 96 per cent of the submissions it received voicing opposition to the proposal.

Under the plan, the hotel would use mini electric vehicles to transport guests and goods, with no more than two round trips an hour. It also promised not to operate any vehicles to and from the hotel between 10am and 6pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Cheung said the department, which will also have to approve the plan, was asking Crown Empire to halt transport from 9am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

"There are an estimated 540 people on the road per hour on weekends and holidays. On a weekday, there are only 110 an hour, or two per minute," Cheung said.

A pedestrian would come across a car only once or twice, and there should be enough room for both car and pedestrian to pass on the road, whose narrowest section is two metres, he said.

But Central and Western district councillor Joseph Chan Ho-lim rejected the plan, saying that the district's residents were sticking to their demand for no traffic - on all days, at all times.

He also said that at some points the road narrowed to just 1.8 metres.

"If the hotel is allowed to run two trips an hour on a weekday, it is extremely likely for a pedestrian to run into a car. That would be dangerous," said Chan.

Vivian Leung Tai Yuet-kam, chairwoman of the Alliance for a Beautiful Hong Kong, said 120,000 signatures had been collected against the hotel project since October.

"We don't want the hotel at all," she said. "It's common sense that a hotel would be visited most frequently during weekends. It would be impossible to ban traffic to a hotel."

Leung also expressed concern about septic tanks that would be installed at the hotel, which she said would make the surrounding environment unpleasant.
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Old July 31st, 2014, 06:52 PM   #375
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‘Time to get tough to preserve heritage’
30 July 2014
South China Morning Post

Conservancy Association calls for harsher rules to protect buildings of historical significance from demolition, alteration or redevelopment

A leading historical preservation group has urged the government to take a tougher stance on the declaration of statutory monuments – historic sites protected from development.

The Conservancy Association said the government should just resume sites with historical importance and put them to public use instead of asking for public input time and again.

Its call comes ahead of the closure on Monday of the Antiquities Advisory Board’s two-month public consultation on heritage issues.

In a paper released on June 4, the board asked whether legislation should be passed to restrict the alteration or demolition of privately owned buildings that are graded for historical significance, whether more economic incentives should be offered to private owners to preserve the buildings and whether the government should use public money to buy them.

The association cited the case of the St Joseph’s Home for the Aged in Ngau Chi Wan, which was set for redevelopment more than a decade ago but construction has yet to begin.

Senior campaign manager Peter Li Siu-man said the site was historically important because it was once a farm run by Sun Mei, an elder brother of Sun Yat-sen , and served as a base for revolutionary activities between 1908 and 1910.

He suggested that the whole site be declared a statutory monument and that compensation for the owner should be a matter for the government to consider.

“As for future use, it can be a community farm,” Li said.

Kowloon Development announced in 2002 that it had taken over the 230,000 sq ft site next to Choi Hung MTR Station from the Little Sisters of the Poor and would turn it into a commercial-residential project.

The Town Planning Board in 2003 approved the redevelopment application under which five 58-storey blocks of flats would be built above a sevenstorey mall. The three historic buildings would be retained inside the mall.

Buildings on the site, including two dormitories and a gatehouse, were downgraded from grade one to grade two historic significance in 2010. Construction has yet to begin.

In a written response to an inquiry by the association two weeks ago, the Planning Department said the developer was still handling some issues relating to planning conditions.

The developer did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

At present, graded historic buildings are not subject to legal protection.

The most prominent recent example of failure to save a historic building was the case of the Peak mansion Ho Tung Gardens.

It was declared a proposed monument in 2011 amid a public outcry over the owner’s redevelopment plan but negotiations with the government over compensation broke down and the demolition went ahead.

Despite the association’s call for a hardline approach to conserving privately owned historic buildings, Antiquities Advisory Board chairman Andrew Lam Siu-lo said more views had to be heard.

“Some people describe our grading mechanism as a ‘toothless tiger’,” he said.

“But is the public really willing to invest the resources and legislate to protect graded historic buildings? This involves a conflict between different values.”

Lam said board members had yet to determine how to analyse the opinions collected in the consultation but pledged that it would faithfully reflect the results in its report.

“There will certainly be some figures. But we are still figuring out whether the views collected can be quantified,” he said.
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Old August 1st, 2014, 07:10 PM   #376
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Lessons from Kyoto on preserving Hong Kong's architectural heritage
29 July 2014
South China Morning Post

Walking through the streets of Kyoto today, you can still get a taste of the Japanese capital of Heian-kyo built 1,220 years ago.

The grid-patterned streets in central areas modelled after the Tang dynasty (618-907) Chinese capital of Chang'an mingle with tens of thousands of traditional wooden townhouses to create a low skyline unlike those of most major cities of the world.

And even where higher buildings are allowed, there are rules to ensure they do not obscure important cultural landmarks.

It could almost be an object lesson for Hong Kong as it prepares to enact a new policy on preserving what is left of the city's heritage buildings.

But Kazuhiro Yamamoto, chief of Kyoto city government's landscape policy section, doubts whether his city's law on architectural heritage - one of the most stringent in the world - could work anywhere else, even in Japan.

"Most of our citizens have a strong sense of preserving the historic landscape, and that's why it is easier for us to secure people's support when implementing these restrictions," Yamamoto told the South China Morning Post via an interpreter.

The city has found its own way of preserving its rich aesthetic heritage. Beyond the conservation of some 200 centuries-old temples and shrines as individual buildings, the concept of conservation is integrated with landscaping and planning policies.

As Hong Kong seeks a solution for the preservation of its own architectural heritage, the Antiquities Advisory Board is collecting public views on conservation policy until Monday.

In its request for comment, the board noted that conservation advocates had been increasingly calling for a "point-line-plane" approach to conservation. That method looks at individual buildings as points, buildings along a street as lines and collections of streets as planes.

Some have called for whole cityscapes to be preserved as opposed to the current policy that targets individual buildings.

The Kyoto experience offers a case study on preserving cityscapes. "Our landscape policy in the past was a bit imbalanced," Yamamoto said, citing the erection of tall buildings alongside traditional wooden buildings known as kyo-machiya.

"Many citizens were saddened by these scenes. So we revised our policy in 2007."

Like many cities, Kyoto has struggled through conflicts between heritage conservation and urban development.

The opening of the 131-metre Kyoto Tower in 1964, and the announcement of the Kyoto Station Building project with a big department store and a hotel in 1994, were both criticised for destroying the city's historic look.

With lessons learned, legal amendments seven years ago lowered the height caps on new buildings across different zones, with the highest limit reduced from 45 metres to 31.

Four types of "landscape districts" were drawn up in accordance with their cultural and aesthetic importance, with different restrictions imposed on new buildings in respective areas.

On top of absolute height restrictions, the city also restricts building heights in certain areas to prevent buildings from blocking the public's view of important cultural features.

Views of the five giant bonfires lit on mountains in August for the Gozan No Okuribi festival, for example, are assured under the rule.

"You can only find this law in Kyoto," the official said.

Even colours are regulated. By next month, outdoor advertisements with colours and designs which the authorities deem incompatible with the historic aesthetics of their surroundings must be replaced, under a policy announced in 2006.

With strict building codes in the northern part where heritage buildings are concentrated, the city finds space for development by earmarking other sites with lenient rules, Yamamoto said.

South of the historic districts, two sites free of height restrictions with an approximate total area of 100 hectares are designated for commercial development. The sites house the headquarters of multinational companies such as Kyocera, a New York-listed electronics brand, and video game giant Nintendo.

"Limits in the north have to be strict," Yamamoto said. "The south is for development and the north is for history and culture conservation."

Kyoto citizens in recent years have become increasingly aware of the change in the city landscape due to a gradual loss of kyo-machiya, which can be traced back to the 1960s when an economic boom made construction of concrete houses popular.

A survey by the city government five years ago put the number of kyo-machiya at 48,000. Yamamoto said the number was estimated to be declining at an annual rate of 1.8 per cent. The homes are often sold to developers to build new houses.

To encourage the preservation of kyo-machiya and other privately owned heritage buildings, the Kyoto city government subsidises their maintenance.

Depending on the zoning of the buildings, owners may apply for funding equivalent to half, two-thirds or four-fifths of the maintenance costs with caps ranging from three million to 10 million yen (HK$760,853).

In Hong Kong, private owners of graded historic buildings may apply for maintenance grants of up to HK$1 million.

But Kyoto does not buy private buildings in order to preserve them. That approach failed to save the famed Ho Tung Gardens in Hong Kong last year, after the building's owner and the city government couldn't agree on terms for a sale.

Professor Ho Puay-peng, a board member and director of the Centre for Architectural Heritage Research at Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he was not too concerned with the introduction of the "point-line-plane" approach in Hong Kong because "the time to do it has already passed".

"Every time I go to Kowloon City, I am saddened because high-rise pencil towers are destroying the area," he said.

But not all historic Hong Kong neighbourhoods are beyond preservation, Ho says. A group of stilt houses in Tai O, the "rhythm" of slopes, the smaller independent shops and the design of narrow streets in Tai Hang, for example, could still preserve the "historical ambience" in the areas.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 05:38 PM   #377
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History of images in the frame at museum
17 September 2014
South China Morning Post














Historic building in Happy Valley has been transformed to house the city’s first private collection of rare books, cameras and pictures

A grade-three historic building in Happy Valley has been transformed into the city’s first private museum of photography.

Founder and director Douglas So hopes that the F11 Photographic Museum will promote photography and the appreciation of it as an art form. He also hopes the three-storey building can serve as a model for the use of other heritage buildings.

“Revitalisation [of heritage buildings] is about soft- and hardware. We also hope this encourages private conservation of heritage buildings,” So said.

“With more than 80 per cent of the heritage buildings being owned privately, there are other options for redevelopment.”

He said the government could consider offering matching grants to encourage owners of heritage buildings to conserve properties that are open to non-profit or arts and cultural use.

So, 49, a solicitor and former executive director of charities for the Jockey Club, is a collector of cameras, rare photography books and prints. He developed an interest in photography when he was given his first camera when he was in Form Five.

In 1997, his wife got him his first Leica M6 camera as a birthday gift, which moved him to choose an image depicting the cross-section of the Leica M6 as the blueprint for the frame of the museum’s main entrance.

So and his family acquired the building in May 2012 for HK$90 million and spent HK$10 million on renovation and conservation work. The privately funded museum has exhibition and meeting spaces and a library of 1,200 photography books.

So said the 80-year-old building at 11 Yuk Sau Street was one of the European flats built during the redevelopment of the area after a major flood destroyed the Wong Nei Chung village in 1923. The exterior of the building, characterised by bold geometries, displays a distinctive art deco style that is rare in Hong Kong.

So said the restoration was a complicated procedure as he wanted to preserve the original structure, which has been in both residential and commercial use over the years. But certain parts of the building were fragile, he said.

The interior layout and structure remains intact, but the staircase, windows, door frames and floor tiles were reconstructed.

The free museum is open to the public with advance bookings and the first solo show by photographer Elliott Erwitt begins tomorrow.
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Old October 29th, 2014, 10:34 PM   #378
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Savannah College of Art and Design
Heritage tours : http://visitscadhk.hk/en/





Designed by Palmer and Turner Architects and built in 1960, this seven-story building functioned as a magistrate's court with various government offices. It was one of Hong Kong's busiest magistracies until it closed in 2005, handling all cases in the Kowloon District, which covers Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po, Shek Kip Mei, Cheung Sha Wan and Ho Man Tin.

In 2009, the SCAD Foundation Hong Kong Limited won the bid to revitalize the magistracy through the city's Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme. In 2010, the former magistracy opened its doors to begin operations as SCAD Hong Kong.

SCAD Hong Kong was recognized by the 2011 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation. This recognition marked SCAD's first UNESCO award.
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Old December 3rd, 2014, 03:47 PM   #379
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上海街戰前唐樓活化保留
2014年11月8日 (六)




市區重建局活化上海街一列評為二級歷史建築的戰前唐樓作商業及文化用途,昨向城市規劃委員會申請改劃土地用途。

Synopsis : Revitalization plan for 10 pre-war buildings on Shanghai Street.

市區重建局活化上海街一列評為二級歷史建築的戰前唐樓作商業及文化用途,昨向城市規劃委員會申請改劃土地用途。市建局表示,公眾同意上海街街景具有價值,應該保留,未來用途要與市民日常生活息息相關,例如餐飲及小店等。該局指該十幢戰前唐樓結構狀況欠佳,相當部分不得不重新設置,但建築物高度及輪廓保持不變,以保留唐樓群的歷史氛圍。
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Old December 4th, 2014, 11:57 AM   #380
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the movement culminated with protests over how sites of historic value in the central business district can be integrated with the new park and highway plan.
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