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Old May 2nd, 2009, 09:00 AM   #1
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HONG KONG | Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate Redevelopment

Time to rebuild that community spirit
29 April 2009
Hong Kong Standard

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So many people were keen to catch a slice of history at Lower Ngau Tau Kok estate recently, that the government was compelled to ask visitors not to disturb residents too much.

Ten or 20 years ago, the idea of visiting a 1960s-era public housing estate to walk around and take photos would have been thought pretty strange. Now, in the final weeks before the last residents are due to leave, making the area free for redevelopment, the old community has become a must-see attraction.

When I went a few weeks ago, it was like a trip back to my childhood. There was an old-fashioned barber shop of the sort you hardly ever see nowadays. I went to a very crowded cha chaan teng where everybody knew each other. It was completely different from a McDonald's. I visited a rice shop, with all the different varieties of grain in big bins with the price stuck on top.

The owner told me he was going to get compensation when his business closed.

I asked him what he would do next and he said he would just retire. Outside there was a common open area where kids played ball games and old people sat chatting.

The new estate will be different: it will probably have a multi-story shopping mall with supermarkets and fast food outlets, and the playground will be in a separate area.

But let's not get too romantic: the old estate's shopping area was frankly unhygienic and, in most ways, the new estates are better.

But would it not be great if planners could do something to retain that old community spirit in new residences?

Bernard Charnwut Chan is chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board.
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Old May 4th, 2009, 12:42 PM   #2
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Warning on Ngau Tau Kok nostalgia visits
9 April 2009
South China Morning Post

Visitors to the Ngau Tau Kok Estate hoping to get a final glimpse of the buildings before they are demolished have been urged not to disturb tenants still living there.

The 40-year-old public housing estate in Kwun Tong has become a hotspot for nostalgia buffs keen to photograph a part of the city's history before it vanishes.

But this has caused some inconvenience to the 3,100 households and 160 commercial tenants still there.

A spokesman for the Housing Authority said some tenants had complained of visitors asking them to pose for photographs, while others said their lives had been disturbed by the noise they made.

"We understand that visitors are reminiscing about life in the estate and are thus eager to capture some memorable sights. However, the sudden influx of outsiders has caused concern to our tenants," he said. "As the landlord, the department is responsible for the management of the estate and protecting the interests of our tenants. Therefore we strongly advise visitors against trespassing and causing nuisance to tenants."

Although the problem was not very serious so far, he said, the department hoped to give a "friendly reminder" to the public before the Easter holiday, when more people may be considering a visit.

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate was built in 1969, comprising seven blocks and 5,400 flats. The Housing Authority decided to include the estate in the Comprehensive Redevelopment Programme in 1988, and tenants have been moving out under the redevelopment programme.

Many of the current tenants will move into the newly built Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate early next month; others will move to other estates in the coming months.

The final clearing day at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate would depend on the progress in removing tenants but was likely to be this year.
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Old May 5th, 2009, 03:23 AM   #3
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Time to demolish and redevelop another housing estate in Hong Kong. The new estates close to it are more than twice as tall as the existing Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 11:22 AM   #4
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Tenants prepare to exit beloved estate
30 May 2009
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

HONG KONG: In the dim corridors of Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, residents struggle to haul suitcases full of memories from tiny cluttered apartments. Others wrestle with trolley loads of furniture, bedding and other household possessions, pushing them along narrow corridors.

The mood is somber among residents whose homes will be gone in a few weeks. The 40-year-old estate will fall under the wrecking ball as the property undergoes preparation for redevelopment.

Famed for its delicious dai pai dongs and cha chaan tengs, Ngau Tau Kok public housing estate, is well beloved by its residents. Time and urban renewal have caught up to the estate and so its days are numbered. Demolition work is to begin after August 1.

For residents, mostly elderly living alone, their government ordered departure will impose financial hardship.More difficult is the emotional trauma.

Chan, who goes by the name "Chan Mui", is a 94-year-old childless widow, suffering chronic arthritis who has lived in her tiny apartment for close to 35 years.

She has become attached to her neighbors. "I will miss my neighbors most. We are a tight community and we look out for each other. Not only that, I've become attached to a lot of the furniture I am using. I am so reluctant to throw things out," she said.

"I feel it will be difficult for me to adapt to a new environment," she added.

Another resident, Fung, who is in her eighties, collects old newspapers and discarded cardboard boxes. She earns her living that way.

To her, the financial burden of removal remains the greatest cause for anxiety.

"I have to pay almost triple my monthly rent when I move into my new flat in Ngau Tau Kok Upper Estate - from HK$390 per month right now to HK$1,010. How can I afford such extra money?"

Fung said she is receiving a one-off payment from the Housing Authority in the sum of HK$2,300 in addition to social welfare. That will not cover her expenses.

She sighs: "If I had more money, things would go a lot smoother. Now I have to make do with what I can."

To help alleviate the financial burden on the elderly, Hulu Concept Limited raised some HK$60,000 back in April by selling second-hand merchandise from stores and family-run businesses that are being forced to close because of the redevelopment.

Chan and Fung were among the ten elders who received HK$1,000 subsidies but Chan said it cannot replace the community spirit that has grown on the estate over time.

As Chan led us to her flat on the 9th floor, evidence of the distinctive lifestyle found only in public housing estates was everywhere. Endless chatter arose from nearby beauty salons. A grandpa snoozes on a rickety wooden chair, his eyes occasionally opening as his sleep is disturbed by raucous cries of vendors bellowing: "Bargain! HK$3 for a pineapple bun!"

The closing of the Ngau Tau Kok Estate marks the end of an indigenous Hong Kong way of life. Since 1969, residents have lived in typically one-room quarters. The estate is a symbol of Hong Kong's early grassroots culture, and a unique slice of the urban lifestyle.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 01:54 PM   #5
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Old July 8th, 2009, 06:59 PM   #6
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Old July 8th, 2009, 07:07 PM   #7
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Old July 13th, 2009, 07:25 PM   #8
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Source : Housing Authority
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Old July 20th, 2009, 07:37 PM   #9
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 04:47 AM   #10
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Housing estate mementos set for auction
17 April 2009
South China Morning Post

Hair driers from barber shops, coffee cups from tea restaurants and bread-display cabinets from bakeries are among memorabilia from one of the city's oldest housing estates that will go up for auction tonight.

They are among about 50 items collected from shops, restaurants and residents of Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, which is set for demolition.

Organiser Hulu Concept, a company set up to promote local culture and art, says the items are valuable testimony to the history of the 40-year-old public housing estate.

Spokeswoman Iman Fok Tin-man said: "We don't want to see these items piled at one corner of a museum. We hope they can stay in the community."

Proceeds from the auction, to be held at 8pm in a tea restaurant at Block 10 of the estate, will be used to publish a book about the history of the estate and to assist elderly residents to move out before the demolition begins.

Reserve prices range from HK$20 to HK$600 and an entry fee of HK$30 will be charged, which also covers the cost of one drink.

The auction items shown in an online preview include barbers' scissors, chairs and hair curler containers, letter boxes and sugar jars as well as an old TV set, a towel heater and a revolving sign from a beauty salon. Pictures featuring the scenery around the estate are also available for sale.

"Every piece has a story behind it," Ms Fok said. "We will invite some owners to tell their stories at the auction." She said the prices should be affordable for most people, adding that she expected designers and artists would be the main people interested in the auction.

The estate, comprising seven blocks and 5,400 flats, was built in 1969. Tenants have been moving out in batches under the Housing Authority's Comprehensive Redevelopment Programme, but 3,100 households and 160 commercial tenants are still there.

Visitors have flocked to the estate to catch a last glimpse of it, prompting the Housing Department to issue a reminder to the public earlier this month not to disturb the tenants who are still living there.

The department said the final clearing day at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate would depend on the progress in removing tenants, but it was likely to be this year.

The neighbouring Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate has already been demolished.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 06:03 AM   #11
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Old August 10th, 2009, 06:02 PM   #12
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HA exhibition on old estates moves to Sha Tin Town Hall
Monday, August 10, 2009
Government Press Release



The following is released on behalf of the Hong Kong Housing Authority:

The “Light and Shade: life passé in old estates” Photo and Video Exhibition presented by the Housing Authority will be staged at Sha Tin Town Hall from tomorrow (August 11) , following its well-received debut at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre and Pacific Place.

The exhibition showcases a fine collection of photo images and documentary videos on three historic public housing estates – Shek Kip Mei, So Uk and Lower Ngau Tau Kok. Having provided homes to many and witnessed the social and economic changes in Hong Kong for more than 50 years, these estates have fulfilled their historic mission and are being cleared to make way for new developments. The exhibition leads visitors into a world of “light and shade” reminiscent of the elapsing lifestyle and neighbourliness in these old estates.

A spokesman for the Housing Authority said the exhibition and its related activities evoked enthusiastic response and attracted more than 16,000 participants in the past few weeks. Many visitors to the exhibition found the faces and places shown in the photos and videos both touching and akin to their childhood experience, as revealed by the comments they put down in an autograph album placed in the venue.

The spokesman reminded people not to miss the chance to see the exhibition which would move to Sha Tin Town Hall from August 11-16 and Tuen Mun Town Hall from August 23-30. Admission is free. Opening hours are available at the Housing Authority/ Housing Department Web Site (www.housingauthority.gov.hk).
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Old August 11th, 2009, 11:08 AM   #13
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Many of the current tenants will move into the newly built Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate early next month; others will move to other estates in the coming months.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 03:49 PM   #14
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Indie festival makes statement in launching at soon-to-close cafe
20 October 2009
South China Morning Post

There's the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival (HKAFF), which started last Thursday at Broadway Cinematheque, and then there's the Hong Kong Asian Independent Film Festival (HKAIFF), which held its launch press conference on the same day. Coincidence? More likely it's a case of bitter ex-partners trying to upstage each other. The HKAFF used to be presented by the Cinematheque in conjunction with indie collective Ying E Chi, until a nasty divorce a year ago. Now there are two festivals. While the HKAFF showed its star power at the IFC opening, with Japanese actor Joe Odagiri in attendance for The Warrior and the Wolf and Korean director Park Chan-wook for Thirst, the HKAIFF showed its grass-roots cred with its announcement at Hing Kee, a long-popular cha chaan teng in Ngau Tau Kok Lower Estate. "This canteen will close down at the end of this month as part of the government's redevelopment plan in the area," Ying E Chi co-founder Vincent Chui Wan-shun (centre, in glasses) announced.

"This cha chaan teng is like independent filmmaking; if we do not fight for a platform to have a voice for some non-mainstream ideas, it too will disappear into history."

Sadly, he was preaching to the converted, with more indie artists in attendance than celebrity-focused reporters. "We have seen a lot of mainland films promoting a harmonious-society ideology, but this doesn't entirely reflect our reality. This is why independent filmmaking is important and needed to show things from a different angle."

The HKAIFF will run from November 14 to 29. For info, check hkaiff.hk.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 07:49 AM   #15
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A blast from the past :

Smiles greet cleanup but many have doubts - 'I don't think it will stay like this,' says one estate resident
17 April 2003
South China Morning Post

Residents in Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, the second Kowloon Bay housing area to be hit by the Sars outbreak, have never seen the areas around their homes looking so clean - but many doubt it will stay that way.

Long-term residents are impressed with the government's cleaning efforts. Relaxing in an open area, Wong Sai-Ma, 80, said she had never seen the estate so clean in the past 30 years. "It's like sitting in a park now. There are a lot fewer people and it's much cleaner," Ms Wong said, nodding towards a nearby cleaning squad. "My children, who live in Amoy Gardens, brought me masks to wear, but I don't think I need them," she said, continuing to fold gold-paper offerings that she sells in her shop.

Another long-term resident, Mr Chan, said that while there had been cleanups in the past, nothing compared to the current effort.

"The cleaners are being extra careful. They are cleaning even the most difficult places," said Mr Chan, who lives alone in Block 13.

A decade-long resident of the estate's Block 10 was pleased but sceptical. "It's never been this clean while I have lived here," said the office clerk aged in her 20s.

"But I don't think it will stay like this. There has been a lot of cleaning work in the past but it had only achieved short-term effects." A noodle-stall owner said people must be responsible for their own hygiene and the cleanliness of the estate. "The government has done more than enough already to clean up the place," she said, adding that residents had to address their own bad habits.

According to Health Department figures, cases of Sars have been confirmed at five out of the seven blocks at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 04:30 PM   #16
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Old March 5th, 2010, 04:19 PM   #17
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Estate's closure marks milestone for people-first housing policy
25 January 2010
SCMP

About two million people live in public rental housing provided by the Hong Kong Housing Authority. With social mobility and population growth, people moving in and out of public housing estates is a common sight. However as the last six families left the old Lower Ngau Tau Kok estate last week, the event had a special meaning.

Their departure marked the completion of the Comprehensive Redevelopment Programme, a housing project straddling the 20th and 21st centuries that helped change the lives of many families.

Twenty one years ago the Housing Authority launched an ambitious programme to improve the environment and living standards of its tenants. While there had been isolated redevelopment programmes in the past, the CRP outperformed them all in both scope and scale. The CRP covered 57 resettlement estates as well as the former government low-cost housing estates, affecting 566 blocks and a total population of 630,000. Estate by estate, old blocks were pulled down and in their place were built new housing units with a better living environment, modern facilities and better community services.

With the demolition and building work involved, it is all too easy to think of the CRP as a bricks and mortar job. Yet in the planning and implementation of the exercise the Housing Authority put people issues first on the priority list. Only with adequate rehousing for the tenants and a smooth evacuation process could redevelopment take place.

Rehousing is a complex exercise involving registration of residents, vetting and then resettlement. Very often the affected tenants are elderly tenants who have lived in the old estate for decades. They are used to the environment and the community and have nurtured a sense of security of living among people they have known for years. The Housing Authority is well aware of these important community ties and has tried to be as flexible and accommodating as possible in the rehousing exercise.

The Lower Ngau Tau Kok project is a very good demonstration of how the Housing Authority puts people first in the programme. By assigning Upper Ngau Tau Kok as the reception estate for Lower Ngau Tau Kok tenants, the uncertainty of moving to a new neighbourhood - something that can be daunting to elderly residents - is removed.

Based on our customer-oriented principle, tenants were invited to consultation sessions so that their views about the Upper Ngau Tau Kok estate could be incorporated into the final design of the new estate.

The story of Lower Ngau Tau Kok brings out the core spirit of the CRP, which is that tenants come first. In the past 20 years there have been many projects but only one aim - to improve the living environment of public housing tenants.

As they need not worry about their housing needs, tenants have a strong home base and can concentrate on striving for a better future.

Eva Cheng, chairwoman, Hong Kong Housing Authority
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Old June 16th, 2010, 05:05 PM   #18
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Bad news from a nearby public housing redevelopment (Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate) :

Faulty hinges replaced on safety fears
14 June 2010
The Standard





The hinges of about 100,000 windows at two public housing estates were substandard and have been replaced by the contractor, the Housing Department said yesterday.

The department has yet to determine who should be blamed for the faults because the main focus is to ensure the safety of tenants.

Lam Tin Estate was completed last year while blocks in Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate came online between 2003 and 2009.

However, the substandard hinges only became apparent late last year, a department spokesman said.

An inspection found about 2 percent of all hinges were substandard and needed to be replaced.

``I heard that the windows of some flats nearly fell onto the street ... I was worried,'' said a resident, surnamed Lok, of Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate.

Lok said the department did not say why the hinges were replaced.

``However, the new ones seem to be stronger than the old ones,'' another resident said.

The department spokesman said nearly 90 percent of all faulty hinges have so far been replaced with the estate contractor meeting the cost.

Not all replacement work has been carried out because officials have been unable to gain access to some flats with absent tenants.

``We did not spot any problems when the buildings were completed ... problems with the hinges only began to appear toward the end of last year when we started to receive complaints from the tenants,'' the spokesman said.

In the past, building checks did not require thorough inspections of window hinges and their strength. These will be included in checks from now on, the spokesman said.

There have been no reports of anyone being hurt as a result of the faulty hinges and similar problems have not been detected at other recently completed housing estates, he added.
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Old December 31st, 2010, 11:43 AM   #19
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Estate removed one floor at a time
The Standard
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A method of demolishing buildings that reduces noise pollution and allows some construction waste to be recycled is being used for the first time in Hong Kong.

Instead of using a wrecker's ball, the Housing Department is removing five 16-story precast buildings at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate floor by floor, cutting down on noise.

Sections cut and lifted from the building are being used as precast concrete plates on-site or elsewhere. Some have also been crushed and then used. The noise from the demolition can be cut to below 75 decibels - the average noise level at regular sites - while pollutants are reduced since any crushing is done at ground level instead of 15 stories up.

To avoid collapses and make sure buildings are safe during demolition, building information modeling has been adopted for risk management.

"The BIM method allows improvement of demolition work and all workers are well-informed on demolition orders and are briefed every morning before work," Housing Department chief structural engineer Martin Tsoi Wai-tong said. "With BIM, we have also calculated the amount of removed construction waste that could be used at the current and other sites, achieving the purpose of reusing waste."

Tsoi said four cranes lifting up to seven tonnes have been used to bring down flats.

"We hope to reuse as much as possible of the precalculated 160,000 tonnes of waste for both the current and other construction sites in Hong Kong. Part of the waste has already been transported to Tung Tau Tsuen and Sai Chuen Road construction sites."

Tsoi said the new method costs 20 to 30 percent more than traditional demolition methods. It also takes four days to demolish a floor, half a day more than normal. A 33-story public housing estate providing around 570 flats and a cross- district community cultural center will be built at the Ngau Tau Kok site, one of the oldest public housing estates built more than 40 years ago.

The demolition, which will cost HK$105 million and started last January, is expected to end in September.

Two primary schools, two kindergartens and 210 commercial tenants were affected in the redevelopment and 3,800 residents were moved - some to the Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate.
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 05:07 PM   #20
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Housing estate refuses to come down without a struggle
28 December 2010
SCMP

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate may have been built more than 40 years ago, but its designers used what one engineer describes as "a very modern approach".

It is this approach that is posing a challenge to the workers who are now pulling it down.

Five of the seven 16-floor buildings were made with prefabricated components.

And instead of being able to simply crush the concrete, the workers are having to remove these components piece by piece.

Engineers have to check how the components were put together and workers have to cut the cables that attach the pieces to one another.

Holes are then drilled in the components and tower cranes are used to take them away.

Lower Ngau Tau Kok is the first of Hong Kong's old public housing estates to be demolished in this way.

"It was a very modern approach for its time," Housing Department chief structural engineer Martin Tsoi Wai-tong said of the construction method.

The demolition, started in May and due to finish in September 2012, is costing HK$105 million, 20 to 30 per cent more than other projects of the same scale. Demolition of one floor takes four days, half a day longer than average.

If the usual concrete-crushing approach was used, the structure would become unstable and the building might gradually collapse, Tsoi said. Metal columns are being used to support the structure.

The estate's Block 10 was the first building to be torn down in this way and work on Block 11 has just started.

But the method has its advantages - it is quieter and more of the waste can be reused.

The project will generate 160,000 tonnes of waste and Tsoi said they were trying to reuse most of it. Components like stairs will be crushed to build roads or transferred to other construction sites.

Demolition of the estate is part of the Comprehensive Development Programme, a Housing Authority project aimed at improving tenants' living conditions.

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate is the 57th and last estate to be demolished under the project.

The estate housed 3,800 families, and 80 per cent have moved into the upper estate and other areas.

After the demolition, a 33-floor building with 570 flats and a cultural centre will be built, due for completion in April 2015.
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