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Old November 5th, 2008, 04:22 PM   #141
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Former Marine Police HQ - 11/02





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Old November 7th, 2008, 08:24 AM   #142
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Gov't Press Release:
Green Island lighthouse compound declared a monument (with photos)

Link from the Gazette
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Old November 7th, 2008, 05:59 PM   #143
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^


A bit of a waste this place used to be a rehabilitation centre ... being so close to the city.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 05:20 PM   #144
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Explorer rallies to defense of long forgotten battery
12 November 2008
Hong Kong Standard

Better conservation is needed to save a decaying bastion of Hong Kong's history, according to the city's foremost woman explorer and environmentalist.

Rebecca Lee Lok-sze, honorary advisor at the Institute for Vocational Education, has called on the government to refurbish the long neglected turn-of-the- century Pinewood Battery and military barracks in Lung Fu Shan Country Park.

The 47-hectare site is in the north of Pok Fu Lam Country Park and forms Hong Kong's newest and smallest country park.

``There is the modern side of Hong Kong with its shopping and cuisine but there is also the historical side that deserves equal promotion,'' said Liela Thandani, a third-year student of Lee's.

Built in 1903, the battery is the city's highest coastal defense platform and kept watch over the western approaches of Victoria Harbour until the 1920s when it was refitted for anti-aircraft defense before seeing fierce action during World War II.

Only a few underground tunnels and the barracks' foundations remain, unkempt and vandalized. ``According to my research on the mainland, there is a huge demand for Western historical sites in China. There is nowhere in China where you can see this because they have largely been destroyed,'' Lee said.

In developing the site into an attraction with either exhibits and placards, a miniature mock-up or full restoration, Lee said the British, Japanese and mainland governments should also take an interest due to their shared heritage with the site.

Planning to make the former military site the main feature in a planned tourism trail that will give visitors a dose of colonial history, bird watching and fauna tourism, Lee and her Polar-Eco-Cultural Tourism Resource Centre class sent submissions to the Hong Kong Tourism Board in July.

The area is also home to the spectacular Lugard Waterfall, which Lee's group also wants showcased.

Last month the Hong Kong Tourism Board introduced a complimentary Pinewood Battery Walk for visitors under its Nature Kaleidoscope program, which offers guides who are experts in Hong Kong's wartime history.

``The board will continue to review the situation and other proposed developments along the path, taking into account feedback from visitors and travel trade,'' a board spokeswoman said.

The class proposes a trail beginning with Hong Kong University's colonial buildings, then the Environmental Protection Department's Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre followed by the classical colonial architecture of Stone House on Kotewall Road.
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Old November 15th, 2008, 04:37 PM   #145
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Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower Restoration (11/13)





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Old November 19th, 2008, 06:36 PM   #146
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Wan Chai journey to reveal darkest secrets in English
18 November 2008
Hong Kong Standard

Expatriates will have a taste of historic Wan Chai on Sunday as the first English- guided tour of the district makes its long- awaited public debut.

A Journey into old Wan Chai aims to open the eyes and senses of those who want to know more about Hong Kong history, said Sylvia Midgett, a guide for the Wan Chai Livelihood Place project.

Students from the French International School were among those lucky enough to experience the inaugural schools tour.

The journey included walking up rickety wooden staircases of historic flats at Stone Nullah Lane, journeying through Spring Garden Lane _ an old prostitution hotspot _ and touching the original stone sign on the famous Woo Cheong Pawn Shop.

The Wan Chai Livelihood Place project is an offshoot of the St James' Settlement. It was started by a handful of enthusiasts who either lived in the area or who felt a strong attachment to the district. Tours in Chinese have always been available and are quite popular among residents of Wan Chai district.

The tours are sometimes adjusted according to suggestions from participants _ mainly friendly Wan Chai residents who have some of their own experiences to share.

Midgett, the first and so far only English-speaking tour guide in the project, said many people who live in Wan Chai or who pass through the area regularly are often unaware of the wonderful sights and sounds Wan Chai has to offer.

She grew up in a more secluded and upscale area of Wan Chai and rarely ventured down to where the ``action'' was during her younger days.

It was only when she began working in the area that she discovered all its attractions, she said.

So Midgett decided to dedicate herself to the promotion of her old neighborhood.

``There are so many interesting aspects to Wan Chai,'' said Midgett, adding she plans to educate all tour participants about them.

The English language tours cost HK$150.

In another heritage development, experts from Hong Kong, Macau and Australia are meeting in the city for three days this week to exchange information on heritage preservation and management.

``The Australian Government is very supportive of such cooperation in promoting cultural heritage,'' Consul- General Les Luck said.

Vinod Daniel, chairman of Australian network AusHeritage, said: ``A strategic partnership between Australian, Hong Kong and Macau heritage managers could better tackle the enormous challenges of heritage preservation.''

This may include ``the careful adaptation or adaptive reuse of some heritage places in our respective environments,'' Luck said.
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Old November 21st, 2008, 06:38 PM   #147
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Celebrating Graham Street before it changes
16 November 2008
South China Morning Post

A street festival featuring arts performances and cultural tours opened yesterday near the hip area of SoHo in Central, aimed at drumming up support for the preservation of a historic market and its neighbourhood.

The Graham Street Market Festival, organised by the Central and Western Concern Group, is intended to raise public awareness on the redevelopment plans for the area.

John Batten, convenor of the conservationist group, hoped that with increased awareness would come greater pressure on the government to make concessions in its redevelopment plans.

Conservationist groups have long been battling the Urban Renewal Authority over its plans to redevelop the 160-year-old Graham Street open market. The group has urged town planners to rezone the area as a market street to preserve its vibrant and historic bazaar. Mr Batten said that although the Town Planning Board had already approved the authority's redevelopment plans last year and the authority had made some changes to include a market area, he hoped that increased public pressure would ensure that the new buildings would not be high rise.

The group had earlier suggested a 12-storey height limit.

Mr Batten said that the group already had more than 12,000 letters of support. "Realistically, things will only change if the government interferes," he said. "This is an ongoing campaign and we hope to force the change."

The festival, which is in its second year, opened at 3pm yesterday at Gage Street with the distribution of a map of Graham Street market to the public. It was followed by a forum featuring discussions involving architects, planners and activists on urban planning and renewal. A short film about the market stallholders called Graham Darlings was shown.

The festival also featured magicians, acrobats, performances by students from the University of Hong Kong, a flea market and cultural tours.

A flea market at the Hoi Wan Cafe on Gage Street will open at 2pm today and a guided cultural tour, which requires pre-registration, will occur this afternoon. The festival ends on Saturday.
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Old November 23rd, 2008, 04:03 PM   #148
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士丹頓街優化新設計 增休憩空間
中環保育擬調整發展密度

23/11/2008

【本報訊】市區重建局下周一將公布中環士丹頓街/永利街優化後的新設計,將進一步改善項目內的綠化空間布局及保存項目內的街道氛圍。由於近期多個住宅發展項目均降低了發展密度及樓宇高度,市建局正考慮相應調整該項目的發展密度,配合社會的訴求。

市建局下周一將召開董事會,討論士丹頓街/永利街的新設計,再交城市規劃委員會討論。該重建地盤面積二千七百平方米,涉及廿四幢樓宇,發展成本逾十億元。

涉多幢歷史建築
鑑於重建範圍有多幢歷史建築,包括前身為國父孫中山先生受洗臈會舊址的必列者士街街市大樓、永利街唐樓前的「臺」及城皇街舊石級等,市建局決定全部保留,而街市大廈將闢建為紀念孫中山的「小博物館」,擺放與孫中山有關物品展覽。

據了解,由於該項目的地積比率達八倍,當中更包括兩幢樓高廿五層大廈,引起鄰近居民及保育團體的關注,市建局正考慮調整有關的發展密度,增加休憩空間的面積,並會研究調整大廈的擺位,減少對鄰近居民的影響。

士丹頓街/永利街是市建局出價最高收購的物業,收購價每呎近萬元,但至今只收到三成多的業權,市建局期望改動有關設計後,有助進行收購。

另外,因應金融海嘯,政府要求市建局加快進行樓宇維修計劃,市建局下周一的董事會會研究加碼進行樓宇維修計劃,包括在現有的物料資助上,再增加現金資助,供業主應付維修開支。

立法會議員陳淑莊要求市建局削減士丹頓街/永利街的發展密度,不應興建二十多層高的住宅,增加鄰近交通負荷,加上鄰近地區多舊樓,打樁工程可能會影響鄰近居民。她希望市建局可以進行仔細工程影響評估才施工。
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Old November 24th, 2008, 06:31 PM   #149
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市建局平租開舖搞活重建區
24/11/2008



【本報訊】中環嘉咸街/卑利街重建項目進入收購階段,市區重建局不希望重建區成為死城,以象徵式租金出租吉舖予非牟利團體舉辦活動,維持區內活力,其中卑利街八號便租予香港建築中心,擺放展覽介紹中環的建築物及其背後的人和事,以及舉辦中上環建築導賞團等。

專人導賞中上環建築
建築中心主席吳家賢接受本報訪問時稱,該中心成立了兩年,借用建築師學會地方辦公,辦過電車建築之旅及其他活動,大受歡迎,同時亦一直尋覓適當地點,適逢市建局有活化計劃,雙方一拍即合。

卑利街八號原為粥店,面積約六百平方呎,現正火速裝修中,將於十二月五日開幕。吳家賢稱配合中環的獨特歷史氛圍,該中心頭炮節目是擺放展覽,介紹百多年來中環建築物的演變過程及其背後的故事,又會邀請香港歷史博物館前總館長丁新豹帶領中上環建築導賞團。吳家賢預期,若建築中心得到社會認同,下一步可以發展至博物館規模,另一個做法則是巡迴到不同區域開設地舖,英國的建築中心便以這個模式運作。

市建局表示,除了建築中心以外,還有三間社會福利機構陸續在嘉咸街/卑利街重建項目內開舖,售賣家庭用品、文具及二手傢俬等。
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Old November 25th, 2008, 05:14 PM   #150
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History triumphs as Central plan is cut down to size
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, November 25, 2008







The Urban Renewal Authority is to slash almost in half its redevelopment plans for Central's Staunton Street area to preserve historic streetscapes and reduce building density.

The revised project - 44 percent smaller than originally planned - will result in losses of HK$170 million, because of the drastic drop in the number of residential units from 216 to 130.

The gross floor area under the revised plan will be 11,600 square meters.

This means the plot ratio will be reduced to no more than 4.5, which is 44 percent lower than the allowed plot ratio of eight.

It is the fourth major construction project in a week to have its size and building density reduced

Last Tuesday, a government source disclosed that the development projects at the MTR's Yuen Long and Nam Cheong stations are to be cut by about a sixth to improve air ventilation and reduce building density in the areas.

A day later, Hopewell Holdings announced its plan to cut the size of its long-proposed Wan Chai Mega Tower by a third in height, and the capacity of a planned hotel by half.

URA chairman Barry Cheung Chun- yuen said yesterday the decision was designed to tie in with the government's policy on revitalizing the former Police Married Quarters site on Hollywood Road.

Major changes to the blueprint include scaling back the building plan of a 24-story high-rise on Wing Lee Street to six floors and preserving five post-war tenement buildings - three on Wing Lee Street and two on Staunton Street.

The authority also aims to preserve a 100-year-old Victorian-style protection wall which is on a lane behind Wing Lee Street.

"It [the quarters] is only a stone's throw from the URA project.

"Therefore, we propose to epitomize the design option to manifest the street ambience and the heritage significance of the locality, visually connecting the two sites and generating a full synergy effect," Cheung said.

The new plan will be submitted to the Town Planning Board for approval in the middle of next year.

But Cheung said a total of nine post- tenement buildings will have to be demolished as it would not be cost-effective to keep those buildings, which he said were dilapidated and did not carry significant heritage value.

The chairman admitted the authority would have made a profit of more than HK$100 million had it not trimmed the size of the redevelopment.

Under the revised plan, the authority will incur a loss as it has offered to acquire old buildings in the district for nearly HK$9,986 per square foot during the property peak early this year.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government would support any plan which could serve the public interest best even if it incurred financial losses.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 05:31 AM   #151
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Yau Ma Tei sites to be discussed
25 November 2008
South China Morning Post

The Antiquities Advisory Board will discuss tomorrow how to preserve two historic sites in Yau Ma Tei after a government proposal to turn the sites into a Cantonese opera venue.

A heritage impact assessment study confirmed the Yaumatei Theatre to be the only surviving pre-war cinema and Red Brick House to be the city's oldest waterworks building. Transformation of the neighbouring buildings is part of the government's plan to revive Yau Ma Tei and preserve Cantonese opera.

The board will discuss the assessment study, which identified the significance of the two buildings and designed measures to safeguard them during their conversion.

The study suggested installing an on-site structural monitoring system to ensure the buildings' integrity. Original architectural features, including the arch and walls of the stage, would be preserved. New installations should be concealed.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 05:47 AM   #152
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More protection for grade-one buildings
27 November 2008
South China Morning Post

Grade-one historic buildings can be given monument status under revisions to the heritage grading system after a mansion in Mid-Levels was defaced before it was declared a monument.

When buildings are under threat of demolition, the government will declare them proposed monuments to allow for more time to negotiate with owners, heritage advisers were told yesterday.

"We have learned a lesson from King Yin Lei, whose protection was done in such a rush," Janet Wong Wing-chen, deputy secretary for development, said at the Antiquities Advisory Board meeting.

The King Yin Lei mansion on Stubbs Road, previously ungraded, was hastily declared a proposed monument last year after extensive media coverage of its defacement. It was formally declared a monument in July this year.

Graded historic buildings now are usually not protected by law and have no formal channel to apply for monument status. There was also confusion over the division of responsibilities between departments on the buildings' preservation.

Under the new framework, board members will be asked to consider the heritage significance of a building, along with existing criteria including the collective memory of it.

If officials assess that a grade-one building rates highly in historical or archaeological significance, they may declare it a monument, an Antiquities and Monuments Office spokesman said.

Duties of government departments will also be clarified to include responsibilities such as seeking the owners' consent to preserve the buildings and working out any compensation.

The revisions will take effect early next year when the government completes its heritage assessment of 1,140 historic buildings, both graded and ungraded. At present, there are 114 grade-one buildings.

Board members Ng Cho-nam and Bernard Lim Wan-fung approve of the new measures, which will clear the confusion of responsibilities between the board and the government that arose during the controversies surrounding the Star Ferry Pier, Queen's Pier and King Yin Lei.

But Dr Ng also asked if the grading system would be extended to protect heritage clusters apart from individual buildings, such as walled villages in the northern New Territories.

The spokesman said the grading system did not cover heritage clusters, and that town planning procedures may offer protection.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 12:13 PM   #153
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Gov't Press Release:
Linkage established between monument declaration and historic buildings grading system
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Old November 28th, 2008, 12:38 PM   #154
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Opinion : URA cannot serve the public interest as a real estate business
28 November 2008
South China Morning Post

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has made it perfectly clear that its motives have never been about "ending urban decay" as it states.

As it has begun to bring to light, it is apologising to the public for the losses its [revised] Staunton Street plans will generate ("Staunton Street project scaled down", November 25).

It is and always has been a for-profit organisation.

It serves the interests of the developers it represents and destroys neighborhoods in its wake.

It should never have been in the real estate business to begin with.

It is not what the people the URA represents wanted it to do.

What the people of Hong Kong want and deserve is a government that sets the rules for development with zoning and safety requirements but does not get its hands dirty in the actual development process.

Even with the scaled-back version for Staunton Street, the plan is flawed.

It is an attempt to fix something that is not working and minimise the damage.

Unfortunately, the only way to save this area is to remove the URA completely from the equation and allow private developers to continue the process of development that they have begun. The URA should refocus its efforts on the less glamorous areas which really need its help.

It needs to do what governments do, set the rules, not seek profit at the expense of the public interest.

It is not too late to stop the URA plans for Staunton Street.

It needs to hear from more people about how they feel about what the URA is doing.

Ultimately, we need the government to recognise that any system that relies on an organisation like the URA will not work.

I hope we have that kind of enlightened government but I have not seen any evidence of this yet.

Dare Koslow, Central
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Old December 1st, 2008, 04:23 PM   #155
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Preservation lacks long-term vision
26 November 2008
South China Morning Post

The Hong Kong Institute of Architects Heritage & Conservation Committee chairman Edward Leung says that although the preservation in Wan Chai has captured some of the district's most significant architecture, the planning lacks long-term assessment.

Wo Cheong Pawn Shop at 66 Johnston Road, 18 Ship Street and the three tenement houses left after the demolition of Lee Tung Shop are all pre-war shophouses, or tong lau.

The government introduced a building and public health ordinance in 1898 which defined all the buildings including tong lau. In 1903 the government introduced a maximum height per storey of 9 feet, with a four storey limit. But the ordinance changed in 1964, so no tong lau were built from then on.

"I think the Urban Renewal Authority has done a good job in preserving tong lau. But, as a heritage conservation project, we need to think about whether it is more important to save the buildings or to save the social fabric which keeps society together. I think we are at a juncture where it's not just about conserving or developing new buildings; we have to think about what we would like our society to be like in the future," Mr Leung said.

Wo Cheong Pawn Shop was built in the late 1800's, while 18 Ship Street and three tenement houses were built in the 1930s. "Tong lau have a lot of architectural characteristics which reflect how the middle class - the majority of the society then - lived during the post-war period," Mr Leung said.

Architectural features such as concrete railings, and external renderings, using Shanghai plaster, involved exquisite craftsmanship and were expensive to do at the time.

URA district development director Stephen Lam Wai-nang said: "When it came to preserving these shophouses we tried to make sure that the most important features would be restored and that the buildings would be used in a number of ways."

He said that the new development in Johnston Road helped the conservation of both buildings and made them safe for public use. For example, the URA needed to install a sprinkler system and emergency generator, and provide hose reels and a fire alarm in Wo Cheong Pawn Shop, but it was impossible to fit these in the original building. So the system is now in the new development.

Mr Lam said the URA had carefully considered suitable tenants for the restored buildings.

"While making the buildings versatile enough for different tenants, we didn't think it was appropriate if we had a tenant that sells mobile phones in the Wo Cheong Pawn Shop," Mr Lam said.

"What the tenants [in these buildings] offer has to fit in with the essence of these buildings."
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Old December 1st, 2008, 05:20 PM   #156
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Consultant hints at U-turn over prison hall
27 November 2008
South China Morning Post

A Central Police Station compound prison hall said to have heritage significance might have to be torn down for new buildings, a conservation consultant for the Jockey Club hinted yesterday.

In the club's paper submitted to the Antiquities Advisory Board this week, its conservation consultant agreed that the F Hall at Victoria Prison has social significance and it may be desirable to keep the building's exterior. But at the meeting yesterday, the consultant said there was "a change of view" about the hall.

"If there are advantages to losing the F Hall, it is a price worth paying," said Michael Morrison, of Purcell Miller Tritton, a British conservation architecture firm.

Sacrificing the F Hall could mean keeping the adjacent prison yard an open space and reducing the height of any new building, the consultant said.

The F Hall has been classified as a non-historic building by the government, which said it had been extensively altered.

But district councillors and conservation groups say the hall, being the entrance and exit for prisoners and their visitors, and once a detention place for Vietnamese refugees, has great social significance and is part of Hongkongers' collective memory.

Antiquities Advisory Board member Bernard Lim Wan-fung said he was surprised the Jockey Club had had such a change of view. "How could they have changed their minds within just a few days?" he asked. He supported preserving the hall's exterior, saying it had architectural as well as heritage merit.

Ng Cho-nam, another board member, said the Jockey Club should keep listening to views of community groups on whether to keep the hall to prevent another public outrage.

Apart from the F Hall, Mr Morrison recommended preserving another prison hall to demonstrate the prison experience, while altering the other two for revitalisation. The cells were too small to be converted for other uses, he said.

A museum on the entire site would not be desirable, he continued, saying a police museum was often dull.

The Jockey Club, which will undertake to conserve the monument site and put in cultural facilities, scrapped its plan for a 160-metre observation deck last year after public pressure. It will have a revised conservation and revitalisation proposal by the middle of next year.
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 03:37 AM   #157
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灣仔鬼屋重生 考活化智慧; 獅城經驗 古跡延續又增值
1 December 2008
香港經濟日報

在短短一星期內,繼合和(00054)Mega Tower項目後,港府又接連宣布大力削減士丹頓街的物業發展密度,即使轉盈為虧也在所不計,高舉保育旗幟,而活化「灣仔鬼屋」南固臺更加被外界指是增加發展商與政府談判的籌碼。

其實保育及活化歷史建築成為全球大氣候,但本港先後發生皇后碼頭拆卸和景賢里遭「毀容」的「慘劇」,特區政府更被批評保育政策僵化落後。

當特區政府「忽然保育」,以保護古跡聞名的競爭對手新加坡已「進化」為活化社區舊建築,把舊小學變身成為至潮的精品酒店,古跡更為建築物豪宅增值,賣個滿堂紅,不但為社區帶來活力,還創造了就業及經濟效益,是本港保育及活化古跡的示範作。

減低發展密度、活化舊區已成社會的大趨勢,為回應訴求市區重建局上周一宣布大減上環士丹頓街/永利街重建項目的發展規模,並保留、活化5幢戰前唐樓及國父孫中山曾居住的遺址,不惜蝕本1.7億。

在一星期內,政府接連公布大幅度降低已完成規劃的物業發展密度,背後的舊區保育及活化是一大契機。

百年南固臺古跡 沉寂半世紀

俗稱「灣仔鬼屋」的南固臺,揉合中西風格,是一級歷史建築,最初由富商杜仲文投資興建,於1918年建成,後轉售時為永安百貨公司副司理的胞弟杜澤文,1945年他被發現斃命於大宅內,自此丟空。到20年前才被合和以1,600萬元成功收購業權。四周林蔭密布的環境多年未變,至今遊人仍可依稀窺見建築昔日面貌。

南固臺雖獲發展商保留,但因為Mega Tower計劃一直懸而未決而繼續丟空,直至合和董事總經理胡文新上月19日公布修訂方案,承諾會重新裝修及活化南固臺,並會開放予公眾,外界盛傳此舉為增加發展商與政府談判的籌碼。

陳淑莊抨機制差 犧牲古建築

立法會議員陳淑莊認為,政府向私人業權提出交換條件,確能增加業主保留私有舊建築的誘因,如早前以半山司徒拔道一幅土地,交換附近景賢里業權便屬一例,惟以地換地牽涉位置和地價等問題,長遠而言可藉免收差餉或地租,為保育古跡另闢蹊徑。

雖然政府有此一著,陳淑莊仍認為現行建築保育政策欠清晰,「如政府以甚麼原則,去吸引業主交換舊建築業權,整個過程我們也不知道,就像逐單逐單去傾。」再者即使歷史評級的古跡,若不是「法定古跡」,現時也無法例規定不能拆卸,「起碼你要有一個機制,你grade(評級)了的,令政府可以守到監察呢個門口。」

特區政府在保育舊建築的範疇上被批評存在很多問題,令到不少舊建築物的「生命」未能延續。

外牆髹漆 變靚卻無歷史味道

如景賢里業主出售物業前曾聯絡政府,惟未獲回覆,最後才發生新業主改建,裝修極速破壞園內建築的「慘劇」。而自稱九龍皇帝的曾灶財,其位於九龍灣的「墨寶」近來遭民政事務處用油漆蓋過,揭露當局的所謂「保護」僅為拍照存檔,反映政府對古跡的保育意識薄弱。

「很多時古跡只留軀殼,沒其靈魂。」陳淑莊指,就算物件完好保留,也不代表昔日神韻能夠承傳,如荔枝角道雷生春翻新後,往日殘舊外牆早已髹過新漆,「他們以為將它油得白雪雪,便叫做靚、叫做新,但是『舊』才是它的味道。」政府對古跡的定義狹隘,態度僵化,無法充分發揮保留舊建築的作用。
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 06:03 AM   #158
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Land swap for historic mansion gets nod
Hong Kong Standard
Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The owner of King Yin Lei Mansion has been given an adjacent plot of land in exchange for surrendering the historic 71-year-old building in Mid-Levels and paying for its restoration.

"Beside paying full-market value premium for the land exchange ... the owner is required to carry out and fund the restoration work of King Yin Lei to the satisfaction of the Antiquities and Monuments Office," a Development Bureau spokeswoman said yesterday.

The land exchange, approved by the Executive Council, will see the mansion and its plot on 45 Stubbs Road surrendered to the government for preservation and revitalization in return for a plot of 4,705.5 square meters, on which the owner can build five three-story residential homes.

Restoration work on the mansion - which was built in 1937 and has featured in several films and television series - will be supervised by Guangzhou University school of architecture and urban planning professor Tang Guohua.

Parts of its roof were damaged during four days of demolition starting on September 11, 2007, after ownership was passed to the current titleholder.

Restoration of the roof tiles is expected to be completed early next year, with the external walls and indoor decorations to be restored by 2010.

The government will also launch a public consultation on the building's future use and revitalization.

Conservancy Association campaign manager Peter Li Siu-man said the arrangement was satisfactory. A similar exchange has also been proposed for Hopewell's Mega Tower, now renamed Hopewell Center II, but Li said that land exchange arrangement was unlikely to reconcile community and developer aspirations because comparable sites for a proposed hotel were not available.

A Development Bureau spokeswoman said this was the first case - since the chief executive's 2007 policy address - where a private developer was satisfied by a government offer to facilitate the preservation of a privately held historic building. She added the development of the sparsely vegetated adjacent lot would not adversely affect traffic flow or impact the area's landscape, greenery or vista.

The Peak Area Outline Zoning Plan has been amended to rezone the site from residential to cultural, community and commercial uses, while the substituted land has been changed from greenbelt to residential, with the Town Planning Board's approval.

King Yin Lei, located above the Happy Valley racecourse, was declared a monument on July 11, 2008 after an emergency meeting 10 months earlier between the monuments' office and Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor following a public backlash after it was revealed parts of the building were being demolished.
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 05:29 PM   #159
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舊區保育與發展
2 December 2008
星島日報

曾經有人認為,香港是文化沙漠,但是經過天星及皇后碼頭一役後,社區文化保育成為了香港市民的共識。事實上,這股民間聲音不但令政府檢討以往「拆卸為本」的重建策略,甚至「逼使」大型地產商「讓步」,主動降低建築樓宇的高度,不但順應了市民大眾的期望,更可體現出發展與保育並行的現代都市新概念。

市建局最近公布了中環士丹頓街一帶的重建方案,不但大幅度降低樓宇高度及地積比率,還保留了區內富特色的歷史文物,為社區加添文化氣息之餘,更可作為連接歷史的橋梁。除此之外,最近亦有地產商為配合社會實際情況,主動為延宕多年的灣仔合和中心二期提出新方案,削減樓層的數目,減輕屏風效應,同樣顯示出保育城市的社會責任。

雖然香港的面積不大,但歷史卻讓它成了英國殖民地。在這華洋共處的社區中,保留着許多歷史文物。其中士丹頓街的必列啫士街街市(左圖)不但是美國公理堂前身,更是國父孫中山先生曾居住及受洗的地方,而街道後方的維多利亞式石砌擋土牆(右圖),則是香港百年歷史的見證,屬於重要的歷史遺產。

雖然政府承諾在士丹頓街重建方案中,將上述兩者列作重點保育文物,但部分社會人士卻仍然認為方案有所不足,尤其當局表明只會保留三棟具歷史價值的唐樓,更引起中西區關注組的反對,認為政府急於清拆古舊建築物,根本不懂得保育之道。關注組發言人表示,低密度唐樓(左圖)不但是中西區的特色,更擁有不可代替的歷史意義,建議當局可進行唐樓翻新工程(右圖),保留士丹頓街一帶的社區原貌。
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Old December 8th, 2008, 06:00 PM   #160
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A little bit country
Yuen Long has retained many of its rural culinary traditions despite rapid urban growth

4 December 2008
South China Morning Post

In the northwest New Territories lie the alluvial plains of Yuen Long, once a self-contained agricultural centre used for growing rice and vegetables, and raising livestock. In the 1970s, the area's attraction as a market town was lost to mass urban development and a subsequent boom in population.

The district comprises six rural areas dotted with 154 villages. The busiest part of the township is off Castle Peak Road where the modern residential high-rises line Hong Lok, Tai Tong and Fung Lin roads. But despite these eyesores, low-rise establishments that hark back to more modest times are still scattered throughout the area.

This township might only be a speck on the map, but it's loaded with dining choices. There are more than 600 small to mid-size eateries in this area, from dai pai dong and family-run congee stores to dessert houses and restaurants.

The famed Tai Wing Wah Restaurant is the only restaurant in Yuen Long that offers rural wai tsuen choi (walled village cuisine) dishes. Unlike Hakka food, village cuisine relies on seafood and vegetables. In operation since 1998, the 450-seat restaurant is owned and operated by award-winning celebrity chef, Hugo Leung Man-to. The simple interior is littered with media clippings of the portly Leung, who weighs in at 127kg. His reputation means there's always a long queue for dinner.

"Value for money is the rule of the game," says Leung with a smile. "I don't sell expensive food, and our portions are large. My menu features 120 dishes, each costs only HK$52 and I change 20 menu items on a monthly basis based on freshness and seasonal picks.

"The cuisine requires intensive use of homemade sauces and careful preparation - this explains why we have 12 chefs. There is a sense of belonging at this restaurant. Whenever I'm here, I can usually be found socialising in the dining room."

The restaurant's signature dish is chicken in five flavours that requires the poultry to be soaked in virgin (first pressed) soya sauce for 15 minutes, before mixing it with Sichuan pepper, nutmeg, aniseed, cinnamon and tangerine peel. In winter, lamb is also a popular pick and it's available stir-fried or braised with red wine. Don't miss the spicy duck cooked with preserved bean sauce, then steamed and stir-fried before serving.

For more than 80 years, Hang Heung Cake Shop has attracted customers with its freshly-baked lo poh beng (wife cakes), a sweet Cantonese delicacy made with flaky pastry and a candied winter melon filling. As the tale goes, a wife sells herself into servitude in the hope that she can earn enough money to cure her sick husband. Eventually he recovers and creates this delicacy with the intention of using the profits to buy his wife back.

"Today, the tradition of eating wife cakes continues but you don't have to visit Yuen Long because we've got seven other distribution points in places such as Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin," says marketing manager, Cecilia Cheung Suk-yee. "We sell about 20,000 wife cakes on a weekday and that figure reaches 30,000 a day during the weekends."

Hang Heung was originally a restaurant that sold wife cakes from its shopfront, but its cake business was so successful its owners turned it into a bakery. It now sells about 40 pastries, including festive mooncakes, spring rolls, almond cakes, dried pork sausages and Chinese cookies. All are baked at a plant nearby.

Hang Heung's decor has changed little since it opened. Its attempt to preserve tradition is reflected in its famous cakes, the price of which has risen by only 50 cents (from HK$3.50 to HK$4) in 10 years.

"Healthy eating means less lard and a lighter taste," says Cheung. "The wife cakes are still prepared by hand and filled with winter-melon. These are not cookie-cutter products."

On the outskirts of Yuen Long town is the 33-year old Pizzeria Giovanni Ristorante Italiano.

When this 100-seat outlet opened, it quickly became a favourite among the British Armed Forces based in Kam Tin and Fanling. "At that time, Yuen Long was still a rural area with a limited choice of cuisine," says the pizzaria's managing director, Luigi Yip Chi-kwong, who worked at the Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula hotels in the 70s.

"For the past 30 years, we've had a successful set-up. Next door we have the Chalet bar, which is connected to the main dining room. In the past the army officers would come for our festive celebrations. We were their 'local'," says Yip.

"Since the handover, we have readjusted our strategy. Today, we cater to local customers who want more variety. Our menu items are translated into Chinese and we launched French and Portuguese specialities that are popular. About 90 per cent of our dishes are Italian."

Much of the food is imported for use in dishes such as their cracker-crisp "house special" pizza, topped with ham, pepperoni, cheese, onion and tomato, but Yip is quick to add they use only fresh seafood. "Each morning, I pick fresh seafood from the market myself."

If you want a lighter meal, head to the Ho To Tai Noodle Shop, that specialises in Cantonese shrimp wonton. Established in 1948, the two-storey shop can accommodate about 100 diners. Best-selling items are the wonton noodles with shrimp eggs and the beef flank noodles. The shop uses imported Canadian flour, and freshness is the key to the noodles' success. On a busy day, Ho To Tai sells more than 1,000 bowls.

Owner Chan Kei-yum explains the meaning behind the brand: "'Ho' means 'good', 'To' symbolises thoughtful service while 'Tai' refers to value for money," says Chan, who used to work as the shop's chef.

Now managing the restaurant and the staff, Chan is happy to stand by and cook when needed. His 75-year-old mother can be found every day behind the cash register. Her sharp mind and gentle smile are part of the shop's attraction for customers.

"We try to introduce new products, such as our recent shrimp egg with turnip addition," says Chan. "Clients are welcome to purchase dried noodles to use in their own recipes at home. In addition to plain egg noodles, the shop also makes spinach, carrot and dried scallop noodles.

Like everywhere else in Hong Kong, urban development is encroaching on traditional life in Yuen Long. But the long history, heritage and varied cuisine continue to attract visitors.

Chef Leung from Tai Wing Wah is happier working here than in a more urban environment.

"The charm of dining in Yuen Long prevails because of the decades-old traditionalat outlets like the wonton noodle shops and dai pai dongs. It's something irreplaceable. In addition to superb products and cooking from the heart, the enthusiastic service makes you feel as if you're part of the family."
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