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Old July 7th, 2007, 06:39 AM   #21
hkskyline
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Hong Kong leader pledges more public engagement on heritage

HONG KONG, July 5, 2007 (AFP) - Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang pledged Thursday to engage more with the public on heritage conservation as he began his second term in office.

But he refused to be drawn on the details of his plan to introduce more democracy in the territory, where tens of thousands took to the streets Sunday to demand universal suffrage.

Tsang said the previous government had "left something to be desired" on issues such as heritage conservation, and promised closer cooperation with the public in the future.

"For issues of public concern such as heritage, we should seize every opportunity to engage our public organisations in dialogue," Tsang told legislators in his first speech since his inauguration Sunday.

The government's decision last year to demolish Hong Kong's historic Star Ferry pier and clock tower to make way for a highway and shopping centre sparked protests and huge public debate on heritage in a city famed for its skyscrapers.

Tsang said Hong Kong people's concerns had changed since the return to Chinese rule a decade ago.

"The people of Hong Kong are not only interested in economic issues, they are also interested in other values and objectives, including sustainable development and heritage conservation," he said.

"I must admit the government left something to be desired in these areas and we need time to adjust to that."

Tsang declined to discuss the details of his pledge to introduce a more democratic system, despite repeated questions from legislators.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the handover, to call for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, where citizens do not have the right to choose their own leaders and only half the legislature is directly elected.

Tsang, who is widely expected to publish a long-awaited green paper on political reform next week, would say only that the universal suffrage model to be adopted by Hong Kong would be acceptable to the rest of the world.

Before Tsang began speaking, independent legislator Leung Kwok-hung was removed from the chamber.

Leung had tried to hand the chief executive a petition calling for the introduction of a minimum wage.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 09:24 PM   #22
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From what I know there has been little effort to spare the vernacular shophouse forms - they happen to be frequently the most versatile and adaptable building forms and can house all sorts of housing, commerce and light industry. This kind of building happens to be a real connective tissue that permits understandability of the city. We have been blinded so much by the expectations of the big name prestige projects...

I've read that in Singapore they wanted the shophouses knocked down, but when tourism began falling, the authorities relented and now the remaining districts have been restored. Heritage and cultural tourism is about 5% of Singapore's GDP, not insignificant... (Source: Anthony Tung, Preserving the World's Great Cities, New York, Clarkson Potter, 2002)
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Old July 8th, 2007, 05:27 AM   #23
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Hong Kong doesn't call these types of buildings shophouses. Rather, they're integrated buildings with retail on the ground floor and residentials on top, and were the typical design of the time. There are still plenty of them around, especially on the Kowloon side. Here are some examples from previous posts in this thread :

Mongkok



These ones were purposely restored as part of a redevelopment program. A new skyscraper sits next to these buildings.



However, the Hong Kong government is not doing this for tourism reasons, but rather for actual historical preservation. I don't think preserving history for the sake of attracting tourists is the right way to do it.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 08:01 PM   #24
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sounds good, but how do they determine which buildings are worthy of preservation and which for demolition? For example, does that building that was preserved hold any special historical value compared to buildings that were once around it?
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Old July 10th, 2007, 11:14 PM   #25
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The wee yellow building is soooo cute.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 04:40 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gladisimo View Post
sounds good, but how do they determine which buildings are worthy of preservation and which for demolition? For example, does that building that was preserved hold any special historical value compared to buildings that were once around it?
Basically, the structure has to meet certain requirements as listed in the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (you can see the Ordinance at http://www.legislation.gov.hk/eng/home.htm - Chapter 53) and evaluated by the the Antiquities Advisory Board and the Antiquities and Monuments Office. The Board and the Office will grade the structure as Grade I, II, III or nothing.

Grade I means buildings have outstanding merit, which every effort should be made to preserve if possible.

Grade II means buildings has special merit; efforts should be made to selectively preserve.

Grade III means buildings of some merit, but not yet qualified for consideration as possible monuments. These are to be recorded and used as a pool for future selection.

On top of the three grading, the Chief Executive has the power to declare the historic buildings as Declared Monument as recommended by the Secretary for Home Affairs. Unless, the structure is declared as Declared Monument, all other graded buildings in the historic building list can be demolished, Queen's Pier as an example which is a Grade I historic structures.

So it's all up to the developer, either the government or private developer, to determine the fate of any historic structures. The public has very little to say about the preservation.

The buildings preserved in Wan Chai in hkskyline's were built in the early 1900s, and they are the only structures in that kind still standing in Wan Chai. The Urban Renewal Agency thought they are worth to preserved did not tear them down as part of the redevelopment.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 06:40 AM   #27
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Heritage versus concrete
Clashes over conservation reflect a growing appreciation of the past

1 July 2007
South China Morning Post

Conservation has bloomed as an issue in social and political circles in the past 10 years as campaigns pushed for a better quality of life, respect for history and balance between nature and humankind.

A new breed of activist emerged, seizing on causes from wetland protection to the preservation of buildings and intangible heritage - like traditional practices and art forms. They challenged the government and statutory bodies such as the Urban Renewal Authority and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation.

As attitudes towards conservation changed, artists, cultural critics and university students took up the cause. They became influential advocates, urging ordinary people to join the crusade for more open space, better air quality and heritage conservation.

The new breed of conservationists teamed up with environmentalists, architects, town planners and other professionals to demand more democracy in town planning mechanisms and procedures. Only genuine public participation, they asserted, could protect Hong Kong's identity and cultural heritage in the face of a development model that disregarded sustainability.

The path to their first major victory began at the turn of the millennium - a three-year struggle to save a piece of wetland in Sheung Shui. Long Valley, at 2.5 hectares, is Hong Kong's second-largest wetland. About half as big again as Victoria Park, the valley is home to 210 species of birds, half of the known species in Hong Kong. It also is home to 97 types of butterfly and nine species of reptile.

The KCRC had planned to bisect the wetland to build the Lok Ma Chau spur line. But conservationists put up determined resistance, turning their battle with the railway into a city-wide campaign to save the valley. In the end, the Environmental Protection Department rejected KCRC's plan, forcing it to put a tunnel under the bird-watching haven and sending costs soaring to HK$10 billion from HK$8 billion.

But the Long Valley victory was no guarantee that other fights to protect the city's natural environment would be easy. Now, conservationists are fighting an uphill battle to stop CLP Power from building a liquefied natural gas terminal on South Soko Island, and a 38km pipeline.

Opponents point out the damage the projects would cause to key habitat of the endangered Chinese white dolphin and to coral and fish species. But the government gave the scheme the green light in April.

From a focus on nature, conservationists broadened their scope to cover the entire urban area, challenging the traditional wisdom of development at the expense of history and quality of life. Veteran harbour protector Winston Chu Ka-sun kicked off the conservation battle in the urban area by taking the Town Planning Board to court over the Wan Chai North reclamation plan.

The 10.5-hectare reclamation is planned to extend from the Convention and Exhibition Centre towards Causeway Bay. Mr Chu, in the name of the Society for Protection of the Harbour, applied for a judicial review in March 2003, saying the plan violated the Harbour Protection Ordinance.

A separate legal battle against the Central reclamation - which led to the destruction of the Star Ferry pier and the coming demolition of Queen's Pier - was launched a few months later.

Mr Chu forced the Wan Chai reclamation to return to the drawing board, but he failed to address the Central reclamation. The legal battle over Wan Chai laid down the "overriding public need" test for future reclamation.

One year later, a new fight loomed when two giant developers decided to demolish the brand-new Hunghom Peninsula housing development. Five green groups - the Conservancy Association, Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong), Greenpeace, Green Power and the WWF Hong Kong - signed a joint petition demanding that New World Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties drop the plan.

The Peninsula development had been commissioned by the Housing Authority with a view to selling flats to low-income families. But residents never moved into the new waterfront buildings. In an already ailing property market, the government decided to suspend the Home Ownership Scheme to avoid a glut of new flats.

Instead, the authority sold the project to the two developers, which decided to tear it down and build more profitable luxury residential properties in its place. But the public opposition forced the developers to abandon the plan, and to upgrade the properties by renovation. The petition was later turned into a city-wide campaign against creating unnecessary construction waste and worsening air quality.

Another confrontation occurred over the former marine police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui. Cheung Kong Holdings bought the property in May 2003, paying the government HK$325.8 million. It planned to build a heritage hotel, but conservationists were angered by its decision to cut down hundreds of mature trees and remove the Tsim Sha Tsui hill to build a shopping arcade.

They failed to save the trees and the hill, but they used the incident to promote the idea that heritage conservation should not be just about protecting a building. It publicised how the government's tendering process sacrificed heritage conservation for the land premium.

In 2004, conservationists targeted the Tourism Commission's plans to earmark the old Central police station complex for commercial activities. By highlighting what had happened to the marine police headquarters, protesters got the Central project put on hold.

The police compound was designated for tourism-related restoration and development one month before the commission awarded the former marine police headquarters to Cheung Kong.

Heritage advocates helped change skyscrapers, once a landmark of Hong Kong's affluence, into symbols of a suffocating living environment. A young environmental group, Green Sense, rose to prominence when it showed how the KCRC's West Rail property development of massive residential high-rises would create a "wall-effect" of buildings, blocking air and sunshine. Hundreds of Yuen Long residents filed a rezoning request to the Town Planning Board to turn a West Rail development site into a park. They said the project, if built, would see dozens of high-rise structures blocking the breeze and sunshine from reaching their homes.

John Batten, a former gallery owner, and Katty Law Ngar-ning, a housewife, founded the Central and Western Concern Group to oppose the deterioration of their community. They tried repeatedly through the town planning process to stop the government from selling the married police quarters in Hollywood Road.

Although they failed to persuade the Town Planning Board to share their vision, the pair successfully lobbied the Antiquities Advisory Board to order the Antiquities Monuments Office to conduct an archaeological survey at the plot. Ms Law had found evidence that the site may have housed not only a Chinese settlement soon after the city became a British colony but also the first Shing Wong Temple and later the historic Central School. It remains unclear whether the campaign will succeed.

The government's plan to sell the Bauhaus-style Central Market building and the former government supply depot in Oil Street were also challenged. Conservationists failed to get the two prime sites removed from the land application list, but their efforts forced the government to lower the development density of the two projects. So far, no developers have expressed interest in the two sites.

Meanwhile, new battle lines were being drawn across some of the city's fading precincts. Distinctive communities in older areas such as Wan Chai, Central, Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po found themselves at odds with the push for modernisation being spearheaded by the Urban Renewal Authority. The authority's plans in Wan Chai include tearing down Lee Tung Street, nicknamed "Wedding Card Street", and the Bauhaus-style Wan Chai Market. In Central, the authority plans to pull down part of the 140-year-old outdoor market in Peel, Graham and Gage streets to make way for hotels, offices, residential towers and shops. Across the harbour, the authority's plans for Mong Kok are also highly controversial. It wants to redevelop part of Sai Yee, Nelson and Fa Yuen streets - known as "Sneaker Street" for its profusion of sports-shoe shops. The project divided a community: two pressure groups were formed to push the opposing causes - renovation versus redevelopment. That placed the street's business community, on the ground floor, at odds with the residents on upper floors.

Although the Town Planning Board has given the green light to the authority to demolish Wedding Card Street, conservationists have refused to give up. They also vowed to protect Central's street market, the old Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok. Betty Ho Siu-fong, chairwoman of the Conservancy Association, said 2003 was a watershed. "First, it was the bursting of the property bubble, then came the Sars epidemic. People realised that quality of life was more important than money."

Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, a City University professor of political science, said: "The proliferation of conservation campaigns shows the values of Hong Kong people have changed. People demand sustainable development, not unrestricted development at all cost. The conflict has become more acute because the people do not recognise the political system."

People believed increasingly the city would be a better place if they had a voice in community planning. "If the government opens up the town-planning mechanism to the public, it will enrich our political system," Professor Cheung said. "Universal suffrage is a one-off exercise: people can only vote when there is an election. But genuine public participation ensures the people's voice will always be heard."
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Old July 11th, 2007, 07:47 PM   #28
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Owner cagey on sale of mansion
Reports of HK$450m sale unconfirmed

11 July 2007
South China Morning Post

The owner of a rare Chinese-style mansion in Mid-Levels - which was withdrawn from sale three years ago amid a conservation campaign - has refused to confirm whether the 71-year-old house has been sold for HK$450 million.

Businessman Stephen Yow Mok-shing, owner of King Yin Lei at 45 Stubbs Road - one of the city's oldest and best-maintained mixed-style private residences - refused to say whether he had sold the property.

Chinese-language media reports say the mansion has been sold for HK$450 million.

Mr Yow refused to comment when asked to confirm the reports. "I have no idea where the news comes from," he said. "You could call me a couple of weeks later. The issue will be clearer."

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said it was unaware of Mr Yow's latest move concerning the 25,000 sq ft red-brick mansion that overlooks Happy Valley racecourse and Victoria Harbour.

A department spokesman said the government would not intervene on any deals on private residences, but vowed it would closely monitor the mansion's future as it had been assessing its preservation value.

Conservationists said the possible sale highlighted the urgency of setting up a mechanism to allow the transfer of development rights to safeguard the city's heritage without sacrificing private property rights.

"It is a private residence and the landlord has every right to sell it," Conservancy Association chairwoman Betty Ho Siu-fong said.

"I hope the old and the new landlords will treasure the uniqueness of the mansion. New villas can be built anywhere, but there is only this one mixed-style mansion."

She said the uncertainty over the mansion's fate also illustrated the urgency of establishing a heritage conservation policy. "We don't even know which bureau, home affairs or development, will be responsible for the protection of the mansion."

Property agents said the mansion had been put up in a private tender a few months ago. The tender closed in May. Mr Yow first launched a tender to sell the property in April 2004.

Built in 1936, the mansion's intricate oriental design and craftsmanship attracted the attention of conservationists. The tender prompted the Antiquities Advisory Board, the Conservancy Association and the Wan Chai District Council to launch campaigns to save the mansion.

It was understood Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong (Holdings) were shortlisted. Mr Yow, however, withdrew the tender as the developers' bids were both under HK$400 million, well below the asking price of HK$500 million.

Property agents said the owner still wanted to sell the property, but the previous campaign had prompted him to avoid the limelight.

"It has been available on the market for the past three years but the owner and property agents want to make a low-profile sale," one agent said.

A woman who visited the house three years ago said the decor and furnishing were simple, not luxurious. "It's a Chinese-style building with simple furnishings. I don't think the property is worth preserving," she said.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 08:23 PM   #29
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45 Stubbs Road? I'll have to check it out...

HK$450m...bloody hell.

That's more than the HK$350m that the two in Chung Hom Kok are selling for...

Edit: Here we go:


Link:
http://www.conservancy.org.hk/heritage/KYL_E.htm
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Old July 12th, 2007, 05:05 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _00_deathscar View Post
45 Stubbs Road? I'll have to check it out...
Link:
http://www.conservancy.org.hk/heritage/KYL_E.htm
You can see the building from Stubb's Road but it sits below the road. Not much you can see without sneaking in.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 11:28 AM   #31
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Is that the one right next to Bradbury School?
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Old July 12th, 2007, 11:40 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _00_deathscar View Post
Is that the one right next to Bradbury School?
Yes - a bit downhill from there.
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Old August 1st, 2007, 03:58 PM   #33
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Wan Chai Environmental Resource Centre

The building of Wan Chai Environmental Resource Centre was constructed in 1913. It was used as the Wan Chai Post Office from 1915 to 1992 and was declared as a historical building in 1990. It was renovated and became the first Environmental Resource Centre of the Environmental Protection Department in 1993. It is one element of the government's effort in building up an environmentally aware and well-informed community in Hong Kong - an essential first step in developing an improved environmental ethic within the community.







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Old August 4th, 2007, 07:22 AM   #34
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Hopes raised for historic market
Hong Kong Standard
Saturday, August 04, 2007



With the Queen's Pier conservation conflict still fresh in people's minds, hopes have been raised that historic Wan Chai Market will not fall to the wrecker's ball.

Lau Wai-ming, executive director of mid-tier developer Chinese Estates, said on Friday that the company is still in talks with the Urban Renewal Authority on the future of the market building.

His remarks have raised optimism the 70-year-old building on Queen's Road East may be saved.

According to original plans agreed in 1996, Chinese Estates - controlled by billionaire Joseph Lau Luen-hung - and the URA are to jointly redevelop the site and turn it into a luxury residential-commercial complex.

"We know that preserving a historic monument has become a matter of great concern to the government and the community," Lau Wai-ming said. "We need to discuss with our partner [the URA] first before taking a stand on the issue. We still have not decided whether Wan Chai Market will be preserved or not. Yet retaining the market will certainly increase the cost of our residential project."

The authority has also confirmed it is discussing the market's future with the developer and that both parties will have to abide by their legal responsibilities and contract terms.

URA executive director Iris Tam Siu-ying told the Legislative Council two months ago the authority is obliged to honor the spirit of its contract with the developer.

Many of the stall owners at Wan Chai Market have said they will not move to a new government-owned indoor market nearby without satisfactory compensation.

Built in 1937, the market has been declared a Grade 3 historic building.

Its Streamline Moderne architectural style, with curvilinear profiles of parapets, railings and overhangs, was popular in the 1930s and has become a rarity in Hong Kong.

Chinese Estates plans to demolish the market soon to make way for The Zenith, which is being constructed in two phases. Phase One has been completed and the company has raked in HK$370 million from sales of the flats.

Construction work on Phase Two, requiring the demolition of Wan Chai Market building, is due to start early next year, for completion by mid-2011.

Vincent Ng Wing-shun, former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, said if Wan Chai Market were retained, it would set a good precedent for government policy on historic buildings in future.

Ng said the government might be anxious to make up for the Queen's Pier ruckus and avoid turning Wan Chai Market into the next conservation battleground.

"They really have to deliver it this time to show their sincerity and determination in achieving results. The government also has to seriously revamp its heritage policy," Ng said.

Lawmaker Patrick Lau Sau-shing, who represents the architecture sector, said he believed there is still room for negotiations to preserve Wan Chai Market.

"Of course, it's best to keep it. To begin dialogue is already a show of sincerity by both sides," he said.

However, James Tien Pei-chun, leader of the business-oriented Liberal Party, warned that any detour from the original agreement may hit developers' confidence.

"When a developer enters into a contract with the government, the contract itself should be honored," Tien said.

"The government should also let heritage conservation be part of the agreement as soon as possible."

Patsy Cheng Man-wah, of heritage advocacy group See Network, said what was more important was whether the government could keep up with conservation trends globally.
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Old August 4th, 2007, 11:27 AM   #35
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More options for pier on the table
Alternatives to preserving historic structures will be released for public consultation

3 August 2007
South China Morning Post

In the wake of the Queen's Pier saga, extra options to preserve the pier and the Star Ferry Pier's clock tower will be offered for public consultation by the end of October, government sources said yesterday.

Instead of releasing one model for consultation, the Development Bureau will provide multiple options, including reconstructing the pier and clock tower at their original sites, sources said, adding the future Central harbour-front design would be a chance for the government to show it had listened to the voice of the public.

The first round consultation on the new Central waterfront ended in June. Among the four designs recommended by the bureau earlier, it was suggested the clock tower be re-erected at the new waterfront, but now an option of reconstructing the clock tower at its original site is expected in the upcoming consultation document.

Meanwhile, members of Local Action Group took a rest yesterday, a day after being forcibly evicted by the government from the pier. The three hunger strikers are recovering and some members said they had returned to work.

Among the three protesters arrested by the police during the scuffles that broke out at the pier on Wednesday, cleaner Ma Chor-ming, 52, pleaded not guilty in Eastern Court yesterday to three counts of assaulting police officers. He was released on HK$300 bail yesterday.

Designer Fung Ping-tak, 41, who is under police supervision in hospital, also faces a charge of assaulting police. The case was adjourned until next Tuesday for re-mention.

The youngest protester, Wong Hang-chong, 17, who is known as Ah Cho, was arrested for wasting the time of police officers. He was released on HK$800 bail yesterday and he was not charged.

Yesterday, Queen's Pier was not only hidden by huge hoardings, but surrounded by columns of water barriers. About 50 police officers could be seen erecting iron railings as long as 100 metres to prevent anyone who may try to get closer to the pier yesterday morning. However, by 11am, the railings were removed.

Although the pier was blocked from public view, many people still came to pay homage.

Atkins China, the contractor in charge of the Central Reclamation project, refused to comment on whether it would sue the government for delaying the works.

Core member of the action group, Chu Hoi-dick, said members would need time to recover and new tactics would soon be formed for the next battle front for the pier.

"The next battle will be in court," he said, referring to the judicial review that has been scheduled for next Tuesday.

But Hectar Pun Hei, the barrister who has been helping activists to file the application, will not be available at the opening of the hearing.

Mr Chu said yesterday that another counsel had agreed to represent them.

About 50 people and Queen's Pier activists, including two of those arrested after the Wednesday scuffles with police officers, attended a forum at the site last night. One person at the forum accused the police of selectively arresting people on Wednesday without giving solid reasons. He said he would set up a post at the site to monitor the situation, while other speakers said the police had abused their power.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 10:46 AM   #36
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Cattle Depot Artist Village

Former Cattle Depot (Ngau Pang) in Ma Tau Kok, is a place of memory and identity in the district. Being a place for slaughter in the past, it has not been a welcoming spot among the neighbourhood. It is now used by artists as a place for exhibition and art creation. This change of use may have aroused interests in the neighbourhoods.

Description source : http://www.arch.cuhk.edu.hk/serverb/...ang_right.html

































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Old August 5th, 2007, 05:43 PM   #37
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Performing arts centre planned for artists' site
Council to put To Kwa Wan cultural village to 'best use'

26 November 2006
South China Morning Post

An artists' village in To Kwa Wan may be turned into a centre for performing arts under a proposal from the Arts Development Council.

Council chairman Ma Fung-kwok said preliminary discussions had started with the government and relevant cultural bodies on the future of the Cattle Depot Artists' Village.

The historic building and a former abattoir and cattle quarantine station are owned by the Government Property Agency and rented to 20 or so theatre, music and visual arts groups.

"To be honest, the site can be better managed and artists are usually not very good managers," Mr Ma said. "Some artists live there, some plant flowers at the site, some use it as their storeroom and some do not even pay rent.

"This site is spacious and very suitable for the performing arts. We have all complained about the lack of venues and working space for local arts groups. So we should make the best use [of any space] when a place is available."

The proposal follows the announcement last week of plans to convert a nine-storey government factory building in Shek Kip Mei into a centre for visual arts. The HK$70 million Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, to be opened late next year, will offer 100 studios to artists and arts groups for rents of HK$3 to HK$8 a square foot.

"We are also looking for other suitable venues for arts developments," Mr Ma said.

He believed the council would be given extra funds from the government in the next financial year to support budding artists and promote the arts. The council will not be responsible for the funding allocation of six major arts groups from next year, when the Home Affairs Bureau takes over the task. As a result, the council's budget could be slashed from about HK$90 million to HK$50 million.

Mr Ma said there should be new funds injected from the bureau, and together with HK$20 million from the Arts and Sports Development Fund designated for the council, the body would still have HK$80 million to spend.

"One option for spending the new money is to support more young arts groups," he said. "Another is to step up support to existing arts bodies. I think we should strike a balance between both."

The council's chairman said its two major tasks in future were to help arts groups to secure venues and to perform on the mainland. Mr Ma and leaders of several arts groups had visited the Pearl River Delta last month to explore new opportunities.

"Arts groups need their own space to develop. Also, going to the mainland will definitely raise their horizons and performance levels. It is good for the council to be more focused on budding artists and this will fit into our role as an arts development body."
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Old August 7th, 2007, 07:28 AM   #38
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Opinion : Exchange system can help to save important heritage sites
7 August 2007
South China Morning Post

A group of legislative councillors visited Macau's heritage sites and suggested Hong Kong follows Macau's good example when formulating heritage conservation policies.

They suggest the Hong Kong government follows Macau, through land exchanges. Under Macau law the government has the first option to buy a heritage building and can "exchange it for a plot of land of a similar size" ("Macau's lesson for HK on saving the past", July 28).

Like Macau, Hong Kong faces the struggle of economic development as opposed to heritage conservation. The use of land exchanges to facilitate the preservation of heritage sites is not impossible in Hong Kong but there will be some hurdles. A new and clearly-defined set of land policies to permit these land exchanges needs to be thoroughly considered and agreed by the Executive Council.

If the land to be used to exchange for a heritage site is wholly a piece of government land, we need to consider a fair system to determine which heritage site will be exchanged.

We may need to fine-tune the existing grading system for heritage sites. A fair system can help minimise the grey areas and help guard against corruption.

In addition, in the urban area of Hong Kong, the plot ratio for non-domestic and domestic use under the buildings (planning) regulations are 15 and eight (for Class A site) respectively unless they are otherwise controlled under the outline zoning plans or the lease conditions.

Obviously, it is not difficult to foresee that a landowner will develop his/her land up to its permissible plot ratio.

If the land can enjoy additional plot ratio as a result of the transfer of plot ratio of the heritage site under exchange, these extra gross floor areas may result in the permissible plot ratio under the building regulations being exceeded. We may need to amend the building regulations to facilitate heritage conservation policies as well.

I hope our government will study the effectiveness of the policies and implementation measures thoroughly and consult the public.

Phoebe Wong, North Point
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Old August 7th, 2007, 03:21 PM   #39
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Pier pressure builds in Hong Kong

By Stephanie Holmes
BBC News

Everyone in Hong Kong seems to agree on one thing about Queen's Pier, a 1950s-built platform at the centre of violent protests about its future: it is no architectural masterpiece.


But the white concrete structure, which sits diminutively on the edge of Victoria Harbour, amid the city's shining skyscrapers and endless high-rises, evokes powerful reactions.

Plans to pull it down to make way for a by-pass have been greeted with angry protests, all-night vigils and even hunger strikes.

A very vocal section of Hong Kong's normally conservative, pragmatic residents have been fired up at what they see as the latest attempt to bulldoze one of the city's rapidly diminishing number of colonial-era structures.

Past and future

A court in Hong Kong is due to begin hearing an application on 7 August challenging the decision to remove the structure.

"This is another little piece of Hong Kong's history," says Stephen Davies, director of Hong Kong's Maritime Museum.

"Queen's Pier was always part of the eye-line, a familiar landing point. If you ask the average Hong Kong resident about the island's waterfront that's what they would say - it's Star Ferry, it's Queen's Pier," he told the BBC News website.

The current structure, built in 1954, was created to serve a ceremonial and symbolic function, becoming the first point where the new governors of Hong Kong would arrive on land.

When Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, it was from Queen's Pier that the final governor, Chris Patten, departed.

For Ronald Lu, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, the pier is an intricate part of the territory's history.

"Architecturally, it is not a significant masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination," he says.

"But it has a legacy. If we forget about Queen's Pier then there is no relationship between Hong Kong and its history. It needs to be explained to future generations that Hong Kong is different to other cities in mainland China," he says.

Rocking the boat

The protests - organised by students, conservationists, environmentalists and civic action groups - have paid off so far and the pier, closed in late April, won a last-minute reprieve in early August.

A judicial review will now evaluate whether the government should reconsider a decision not to classify the structure as a monument, which would save it.

For Steve Tsang, of St Anthony's College, Oxford, the campaign to save Queen's Pier is motivated by a mixture of sentimentality and practicality.

"It [the destruction of Queen's Pier] represents unrelenting development, environmental degradation and disregard of heritage sites. That is what people are reacting against," he says.

"While people feel pretty powerless to stop polluted air passing over Hong Kong, at least they can actively try to save the pier," he told the BBC News website, adding that it was also probably the site of many a first kiss.

Ten years after the handover, he said, people feel more confident about speaking out.

"It's not that unusual that people get sentimental. In fact, the real question is, in such a wealthy society, why people aren't more demanding?" he asks.

The destruction of the pier is part of a broader redevelopment project to improve the city's infrastructure, and some of the reclaimed land will help build what the government says are vital transport links across Hong Kong.

Invisible sea

Even the Institute of Architects - which supports the protesters' aims, if not their methods - understands the government's infrastructure dilemma.

"Hong Kong has good crossings from north to south of the island but not from east to west," acknowledges Mr Lu. "The government is trying to address traffic problems."

As Mr Tsang adds, "In development terms, Hong Kong has a history of caring about some of its sites and heritage, but there just hasn't been as much of a desire to preserve as one would expect."

For the past 150 years, Hong Kong has been a city in flux.

It was transformed from a trading port into a centre for light industry and, in its latest incarnation, a global hub for the services industry.

Change is part of Hong Kong's DNA. With those changes Hong Kong has reclaimed land from the sea, swallowing more of its own harbour and altering its waterfront each time.

"Since 1841, the waterfront has moved forward four times," says Stephen Davies. "Hong Kong island has been moving seawards since the 1850s and becoming progressively bigger.

"What actually made Hong Kong - its sea trade - has become invisible."

------------
Quoted from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...933255.stm#map
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Old August 8th, 2007, 07:12 PM   #40
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Submissions highlight weaknesses of heritage conservation system
8 August 2007
South China Morning Post

The submissions made by both parties of the judicial review into the preservation of Queen's Pier yesterday highlighted the weaknesses of the system for heritage conservation.

Historic buildings are assessed by the Antiquities Advisory Board, which grades them into one of three categories. Grade one structures, such as the Queen's Pier, are regarded as "buildings of outstanding merit", which the government should make every effort to preserve.

However, the grading is not a statutory process, and it does not necessarily protect a site. Five of the 151 grade one buildings have been demolished over the past 30 years, government records show. If historic buildings are to be saved, they have to go through a second assessment system, which declares historic buildings as monuments. The Antiquities Authority, which makes the decision, may or may not consult the advisory board, the ordinance states.

Barrister Benjamin Yu SC, for the government, said yesterday that not all advisory board members had heritage expertise. He said that civil servants working for the Antiquities and Monuments Office, who studied history and conservation, were experts.

Some of the advisory board's meetings were opened to the public from 2005 but unlike the Town Planning Board, its decisions are not necessarily adopted by the government or the authority. Also, board members are appointed by the chief executive instead of elected by professional groups and universities.

The reorganisation of bureaus this year further undermined the authority's credibility. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was appointed Antiquities Authority, is also the secretary for development. Previously, the duty of the Antiquities Authority had fallen to the secretary for home affairs.

Without a clear and fair heritage conservation policy, critics say Mrs Lam's roles conflict. If the government loses in the judicial review, she may find herself in a position to reconsider having to declare the pier a monument, critics say.

Other questions raised were: what are the criteria for declaring monuments and the exact relationship between the advisory board, the monuments office and the Antiquities Authority.
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