HONG KONG GLOBAL GEOPARK VOLCANO DISCOVERY CENTRE
The Volcano Discovery Centre of the Hong Kong Global Geopark of China was officially opened on 15th July 2014. The Centre has adopted a people-oriented approach in the concept, design and operation. It is highly accessible, visitor-friendly and serves as a gateway linking visitors to the Hong Kong Global Geopark of China to help promote ecotourism. Located at Sai Kung Waterfront Park, next to Sai Kung Bus Terminus, Green Minibus Terminus and Red Minibus Terminus, the Centre is easily accessible by public transport and a convenient point for embarking on an exploration of the Geopark.
The 1,000-square-foot Centre showcases a 1:1-scale hexagonal exhibit to show the size of the rock formations. A range of rock specimens, with some collected locally and many others from other places around the world, are also on display. Visitors to the Centre can take a look at the huge columns before they depart for a visit to the Geopark. By observing the exhibits, visitors can better understand the geological background and uniqueness of Hong Kong's hexagonal columns. Hexagonal rock columns, which are a major feature of the Geopark, were produced by a series of violent volcanic eruptions in Sai Kung 140 million years ago.
The centre aims to enable visitors to better understand the geological background and uniqueness of hexagonal rock columns in Hong Kong and around the world
The exhibits were designed according to the needs of the visitors following a survey by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to identify the information and geological knowledge that visitors would be interested in before commencing the design of the exhibits.
The Centre offers trilingual counter services in Cantonese, Putonghua and English to assist local and overseas visitors, and offers comprehensive information to advise on the best ways to explore the Geopark. The centre is open daily from 9-30am to 4-30pm throughout the year except on the first and second days of the Chinese New Year and offers a 45-minute guided tour once a day on weekdays and twice a day during weekends and public holidays. Admission is free.
For further information see the Hong Kong Global Geopark of China website;
AQUATIC PLANTS EXHIBITION
From 14th July 2014 until 30th September 2014 a thematic exhibition on aquatic plants is being held at Hong Kong Park's Forsgate Conservatory. Admission is free and the exhibition is open daily from 9am to 5pm. For more information see;
HK 3D MUSEUM
Hong Kong's first 3D museum opened on 7th July 2014 at 1/F Hilton Tower, 96 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. The museum, which has an exhibition area of over 10,000 sq ft features five zones, Modern Hong Kong, Hong Kong Memories, Chinese Culture, Love Journey, and Imaginary Wonderland with a "trick art" collection of about 70 pictures. Visitors can interact with artwork and immerse themselves in fantasy situations such as being chased by a shark and being transformed into a fairy. The museum is open from 10am to 10pm daily and admission charge is HK$149 for adults and HK$100 for children age 3-12 and seniors 65 and over. For more information see the museum's website;
OCEAN PARK'S "SHARK MYSTIQUE" OPENS
Ocean Park's latest attraction "Shark Mystique" opened on 26th June 2014. Located in the Marine World area of the park at The Summit, the attraction features over 100 sharks and rays in a walk-through aquarium spiralling down three levels enabling visitors to view the fish from a 360-degree perspective. The aquarium is five times the size of the previous shark aquarium.
FIRST INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE INVENTORY OF HONG KONG ANNOUNCED
The first inventory of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of Hong Kong, which includes 480 items, was announced on 17th June 2014.
According to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2003, the ICH is manifested in five domains comprising (a) oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the ICH; (b) performing arts; (c) social practices, rituals and festive events; (d) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and (e) traditional craftsmanship. The 480 inventory items covered in these five domains include oral legends of lineages, Cantonese opera, jiao festivals, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Yu Lan Festival, fire dragon dances, traditional Chinese medicine and the technique for making a guqin.
The Government's Leisure and Cultural Services Department commissioned the South China Research Center (SCRC) of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in August 2009 to conduct a territory-wide survey of the ICH of Hong Kong, with a view to collecting research data for compilation in the first ICH inventory of Hong Kong. After more than three years of studies, the survey was completed in mid-2013.
The survey team conducted extensive research and field work on around 800 survey cases. Taking into account the survey findings, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee (ICHAC), which includes local academics, experts and community personalities, recommended a draft ICH inventory of 477 items for the Government’s consideration.
A four-month public consultation on the draft ICH inventory was undertaken by the LCSD between July and November 2013. During the public consultation period, in addition to suggestions from 18 District Councils and the Heung Yee Kuk, the Government also received a number of written submissions from members of the public and various organisations. After considering all views received the ICHAC finally recommended a Hong Kong ICH inventory with the number of items increased to 480, which was accepted by the Government. Based on the findings of the territory-wide survey and the first inventory of the ICH, as well as in consultation with the ICHAC, the Government is to devise and implement a host of enhanced safeguarding measures which will include establishing a mechanism for updating the list of items regularly and for receiving public proposals.
The inventory can be viewed and downloaded from the website of Hong Kong Heritage Museum;
PMQ (FORMER POLICE MARRIED QUARTERS)
In March 2010 the Hong Kong Development Bureau and Commerce and Economic Development Bureau jointly invited proposals from interested organisations and enterprises for transforming the Former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road into a creative industries landmark. The PMQ project was one of the eight projects under the "Conserving Central" initiative announced by the Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, in his 2009-10 Policy Address.
The site was originally the location of The Government Central School which was established in 1862 and the first government school to provide upper primary and secondary Western education to the public. The school was renamed Victoria College in 1889 and became Queen's College in 1894. Queen's College is now located at Causeway Bay. Commissioned on the same site in 1951, the PMQ was the first police quarters to provide accommodation for married junior police officers, including Chinese police officers.
A new partnership model was adopted for the implementation of the project, whereby the Government financed the essential structural and building services works under the Public Works Programme. The government works, carried out by the Architectural Services Department included:
(a) upgrading two quarters blocks to meet functional requirements and modern-day building requirements;
(b) preserving historical relics of the original Central School;
(c) constructing a canopy in glass steel frame and a sky bridge between the quarters blocks;
(d) constructing a new multi-purpose room-cum-exhibition area and new galleries; and
(e) developing about 1,200 square metres of landscaped open space.
Over 40 organisations were believed to have expressed an interest in operating the site including The Hong Kong Heritage Foundation, the developer involved in the restoration of the old Tai O Police Station on Lantau Island into a boutique hotel (see above). In November 2010 it was announced that the site is to become a creative industries landmark named "PMQ" by the Musketeers Education and Culture Charitable Foundation (Musketeers Foundation) with the support of Hong Kong Design Centre, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Vocational Training Council's Hong Kong Design Institute. PMQ, has about 130 studios for retailing creative products, an indoor multi-function activity hall, outdoor open space for creative activities, a creative resources centre, about six rooms for artists-in-residence, an interpretation area displaying the remains of the former Central School, a landscaped open area and other ancillary commercial facilities including food and beverage outlets. The underground foundation stones of the old Central school have been preserved as a museum where visitors are able to walk along a corridor between the stones. It is estimated that the hub will annually attract 5,000 local and overseas creative professionals to attend activities and about 500,000 visitors. The government reserved about HK$420 million under the Public Works Programme for primary renovation of the project by the Government has leased the site to the foundation for ten years at nominal rent, renewable for a further five years. The Musketeers Foundation was made responsible for any costs incurred beyond the Government's works as well as the costs for interior decoration and daily operation of the creative landmark. The project has created about 280 jobs during the construction period and about 130 full-time and part-time jobs upon commissioning. About 630 further jobs will be provided by future tenants of the studios.
Rejected proposals included one from Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture which had planned to invite 30 top arts and design personalities as anchor tenants including actor Daniel Wu Yin-cho, G.O.D. founder Douglas Young and Brian Tse Lap-man and Alice Mak Ka-bik, creators of the McDull stories and cartoons.
Renovation work commenced in 2012 and was completed in mid-2014. The site comprises two main blocks "Hollywood" (H) and "Staunton" (S) connected on the fourth floor by a bridge. The larger retail units with some well known local brands such as Vivienne Westwood and G.O.D are located on the ground floor and the boutique studios selling art, fashion, homeware etc occupy the upper floors. A pre-opening event was held in mid-April 2014 and a night market operated by Hong Kong Markets Organisation and featuring arts, fashion, live music, food and drink is running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 25th April to 22nd June. A "soft opening" of PMQ took place in early May, prior to the Grand Opening on 21st June 2014.
About 40 shops and studios were open by late April and by mid-July, Muji and Smith and Norbu had moved in and most units were occupied.
For details of shops, pop-up shops, studios and events see the PMQ website;
The renovated Former Police Married Quarters, now "PMQ"
ART SQUARE AT SALISBURY GARDEN
Art Square at Salisbury Garden, a new art space situated in the forecourt of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, was officially opened on 22nd February 2014. Three large scale outdoor sculptures are now on display at its first exposition titled "Heaven, Earth and Man – A Hong Kong Art Exhibition".
Art Square seeks to provide a cultural oasis where visitors can enjoy art, a garden and the waterfront at the same time. With exhibits renewed regularly by the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Art Square will serve as a versatile open platform for local talent and art displays and other cultural programmes, providing the public with a new art experience.
The Hong Kong Government's Leisure and Cultural Services Department is currently working with various stakeholders to enhance the cultural facilities and public spaces of Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. The completion of the Art Square marks the start of the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront redevelopment plan, which will enhance the aesthetics and functionality of the facilities and public space of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Complex as well as improving its accessibility. Pedestrian level crossing facilities at the junction of Salisbury Road and Nathan Road are expected to open in late June 2014, which will improve public access to the Hong Kong Space Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art and the waterfront area. Before the end of 2014 Hong Kong Museum of Art will start on a comprehensive refurbishment and expansion project. The project includes exterior enhancements to the building, extension of the galleries and upgrading of the amenities. The project aims to transform the Hong Kong Museum of Art into a cultural landmark of Tsim Sha Tsui and Hong Kong, as well as a focal point to promote local art development.
To coincide with the completion of the Art Square, its first exhibition opened with the age-old theme of "Heaven, Earth and Man", reflecting on the essence of life in pursuit of harmony between man and nature. Three well-known local artists, Kum Chi-keung, Danny Lee and Rosanna Li, have created large and site-specific sculptures to provide their own contemporary interpretations on this traditional theme while also finding inspiration from daily life and reinterpreting modern man's imagination and dialogue with nature. The exhibition will run until 30th August 2014.
"Happy Folks I & II" by Rosanna Li, which is on display in "Heaven, Earth and Man - A Hong Kong Art Exhibition" in the Art Square at Salisbury Garden
THE GRAND HALL OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS, PO LIN MONASTERY (under construction - opening 2014)
The new Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, at Po Lin Monastery, Ngong Ping, on Lantau Island, which has been under construction since 2007, is now nearing completion and expected to open in mid-2014. Scaffolding and sheeting was removed in mid-2012 to reveal the huge building which now dominates the monastery. The hall, located immediately behind Main Buddha Shrine Hall, is built in Song dynasty architectural style covers an area of 6000 square metres.
The Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, expected to open in mid-2014, towers over the Main Buddha Shrine Hall and now dominates Po Lin Monastery
When completed the hall will house the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas with ten thousand Buddha statues, Scripture Library, Abbot’s Chamber, Dharma Hall, Permanent Ordination Hall, 3000 square-metre Exhibition Hall for precious Chinese and Buddhist relics and artefacts and a multi-purpose hall. It will also be the venue be used for study of scriptures and Buddha teachings and for teaching, contemplation and practice of Dharma and religious disciplines are taught, contemplated and practiced as well as being a platform for traditional, historical, cultural, and educational and tourism promotional activities.
Artist's impression of the completed Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas
TSZ SHAN MONASTERY AND THE WORLD’S TALLEST BRONZE GUAN YIN STATUE (under construction – opening 2014)
The world’s tallest bronze Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue and surrounding monastery is currently under construction at Tung Tsz, Tai Po.
The world's tallest Guan Yin statue, towering over the nearly completed Tsz Shan Monastery
The 50,000 square-foot Tsz Shan Monastery will be a non-profit making complex which will promote Buddhism to the general public as well as allow followers to reflect. The steel-framed bronze Guan Yin statue which will be 70-metres tall and will sit on a 6-metre podium, will be over double the height of the “Big Buddha” on Lantau Island, and will be the tallest bronze Guan Yin statue in the world. The HK$423 million development will include temple, lecture hall, dormitory blocks, canteen, landscaped gardens and courts and covered walkways.
At 76-metres, more than twice the height of the "Big Buddha" on Lantau Island, the statue overlooking Plover Cove is expected to become a major tourist attraction when it is completed in 2013.
Scaffolding surrounds the statue, seen here in May 2012
The monastery, which is located in scenic surroundings off Ting Kok Road, between Tai Po and Tai Mei Tuk faces Plover Cover and has the Pat Sing Leng mountains as its backdrop, spelling good fortune according to fung shui masters. The monastery and Guan Yin statue are expected to become a major tourist attraction, when completed in 2014.
The monastery will be run by Tsz Shan Monastery Limited, set up in 2009, whose chairman is The Rev Sik Kwok-kwong, who is also chairman of Hong Kong Buddhist Association, and whose board of directors include Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hong Kong multi-national conglomerate Cheung Kong (Holdings), members of his family and three managers of Cheung Kong.
By November 2012, the goddess's face had been revealed and makes an imposing sight set against the mountain backdrop
Construction of the monastery attracted over 200 cases of opposition from local residents, green groups such as The Conservancy Association and students. Objections were mostly to the size of the car park, which will be substantially larger than indicated in the original plans and will include space for 180 cars and 18 coaches as well as 6 spaces for vans and taxis.
MEI HO HOUSE YOUTH HOSTEL AND PEOPLE'S MUSEUM
Shek Kip Mei Housing Estate in Sham Shui Po was Hong Kong's first public housing estate. Twenty-six "H"-shape seven-storey blocks were built from 1954 onwards to accommodate mainland migrants displaced when a fire in 1953 destroyed some 7000 squatter huts in a hillside ghetto in Sham Shui Po. Over 53,000 people were left homeless and without shelter and the government constructed Shek Kip Mei Estate as a resettlement estate. Conditions in the flats were however grim with each person allocated only 2.5 sq metres living space, up to 18 people living in a single cramped flat, communal washrooms and families dining on the walkways. Subsequently flats were sub-divided with wooden partitioning to accommodate two families. The blocks are in the course of being demolished and four flats in block 17 were turned into a temporary museum before that block was demolished. However one block Mei Ho House has been preserved as a Grade 1 listed building in a HK$202.3 million project has become a youth hostel for tourists seeking budget accommodation and a permanent museum to commemorate the estate, its people and the way they lived. The hostel, which opened on 24th October 2013 is managed by Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association and has 129 rooms including dormitory beds, twin-bed rooms and family rooms, kitchen for cooking, cafeteria and convenience store. Pricing starts at HK$300 for a dormitory bed for YHA guests, HK$680 for a double bed and HK$1620 for a family room for four people. The museum is located on the ground and first floors and details the history of public housing in Hong Kong and includes an exhibition area showing how the Shek Kip Mei Estate looked in the 1950's.
Heritage of Mei Ho House Museum features two reconstructed flats of 1950’s and 1970’s.
Mei Ho House, Shek Kip Mei Estate, preserved as a Grade 1 listed building and People's Museum and youth hostel, seen above in 2010, before renovation
Mei Ho House seen shortly after completion of renovation
COMIX HOME BASE
The first pure preservation cum revitalisation project of Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority (URA) at 1-11 Mallory Street (odd numbers) and 6-12 Burrows Street (even numbers) in Wan Chai, involving preservation of a cluster of century-old tenements, known locally as the Green House, opened on 19th July 2013. The URA has appointed Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) to be the Main Operator of the HK$200 million Mallory Street project to operate and manage the "Comix Home Base" under a five-year contract. Comix Home Base has been established as a platform for exchange and interaction of the comic industry both locally and overseas.
Comprising a cluster of 10 pre-war Grade 2 historic buildings, built in the 1910’s, the Mallory Street revitalisation project has been completed with some modifications made to the cluster to provide lift installation for the disabled, fire escape staircases and other fire and building services in order to meet the requirements of the prevailing building and safety regulations. Prominent features of the project such as balconies, tiled pitched roof, timber French doors and internal timber staircase are retained and preserved.
The "Green House" comprising ten historic four-storey tenements at Mallory Street and Burrows Street in Wan Chai has been preserved in a HK$200 million project and become home to Comix Home Base
The tenements combine both Chinese and Western architectural styles. Wan Chai was one of the areas populated by Western settlers following the British colonisation of Hong Kong in 1841, and many buildings in the locality carried with them a strong European flavour. The ten tenement houses at Mallory Street and Burrows Street are all four-storey high and built with cantilevered balconies supported by brackets and posts on the upper floors. Floors, ceilings and staircases are made of China fir. Other architectural features include pitched Chinese tiled roofs and French doors at 1-7 Mallory Street. Interior timber staircases with timber handrails enclosed by timber planking, as well as ornamental iron balustrades at the balconies, and cement floor tiles with different patterns are distinguishing traits of 1-7 Mallory Street. Among these, the iron balcony balustrades are one of the most distinctive features of these buildings' exteriors. Pitched Chinese pan and roll tiled roofs originate from traditional Chinese architecture, while designs such as French doors are elements from the West. The tenement houses at Mallory Street and Burrows Street originally in dark grey were not named. Four Mallory Street tenement houses (Nos. 3, 5, 7 & 9) and two Burrows Street tenement houses (Nos. 6 & 8) were taken over by the government, and were subsequently painted green, widely known as the "Green House" thereafter. In the 1930s, the timber floor and pitched roof of Nos. 9 & 11 Mallory Street had been converted into reinforced concrete construction with a flat roof.
Apart from the residential use, the ground floors of the cluster were once used for commercial and communal uses. For instance, Mallory Street Nos. 3, 5 and 7 were used as a temporary shelter for the homeless; No.1 had been occupied by Chun Kee Furniture while Yau Chai Kee Seafood Restaurant was located at No. 9 and Wing Cheong Loong Metal Company at Burrows Street No. 8.
The revitalised buildings also include a 300-square metre public open space for the enjoyment of the community. There are studios for comic and animation artists as well as a resource centre library that collects print and digital comic books and magazines. Other features included exhibition rooms, educational workshops, retail space for selling comics and related merchandise as well as food and beverages facilities/outlets. Below-market rents for tenants have enabled some of Hong Kong’s oldest restaurants including Western-style Queen’s Café and Ho Wah cha chaan teng to open up in the tenements.
The galleries and the Comix Salon at Comix Home Base open from 10 am to 8 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday.
LOCATION: 7 Mallory Street, Wan Chai (about 5-8 mins walk along Johnston Road from Wan Chai MTR Station Exit A3 or A5).
KAI TAK CRUISE TERMINAL
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal (KTCT), a major HK$8.2 billion tourism infrastructure project, “soft-opened” on 12th June 2013 with the berthing of Royal Caribbean International’s 138,000 tonne, 15-deck cruise liner “Mariner of the Seas”.
Hong Kong’s existing cruise terminal, Ocean Terminal, at Tsim Sha Tsui has, in recent years, been unable meet increased demand for its two berths and is only able to accommodate ships up to 50,000 gross tonnes displacement, which has resulted in some ships having to berth at the container ports at Kwai Tsing, China Merchants Wharf at Kennedy Town or mid-stream. Pressure for a new cruise terminal intensified after the world's second largest liner, the Queen Mary II was forced to berth at a container terminal with passengers being taken ashore by barge. The new cruise terminal is located at the end of the runway of the old Kai Tak airport which closed in 1998 following the opening of the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok. KTCT will be able to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships, up to 220,000 gross tonnes, at its two berths. Construction of the new cruise terminal began in 2009 and the first berth has been completed, with the other berth due to be commissioned in 2014, although the second berth will only be able to accommodate the largest ships after the relocation of submarine gas mains by China Gas in 2015. Ocean Terminal will continue in operation following completion of KTCT.
Celebrity Millennium at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in December 2013
The terminal building of KTCT provides world-class port facilities and offers spacious areas for passenger check-in/waiting and baggage handling so that cruise guests can check in and collect their baggage efficiently and comfortably. Five boarding bridges can be flexibly used along the two berths. Highly efficient customs, immigration and quarantine facilities will be able to clear 3,000 passengers an hour and there are ample pick-up and drop-off areas and coach parking spaces. The terminal will also have commercial, office and retail facilities although shops and restaurants are not expected to open earlier than October 2013 in time for the next scheduled cruise ship arrivals, Royal Caribbean’s “Voyager of the Seas” and Princess Cruises “Diamond Princess”. The terminal building has been designed with flexibility for conversion of the waiting halls into other uses during the non-peak season, such as for exhibitions and meetings. A landscaped deck, “Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Park” of about 23,000 square metres, one of the largest public roof gardens in Hong Kong, allows cruise passengers and local residents a panoramic view of the harbour.
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal's rooftop park offers panoramic views of Victoria Harbour
Initially, the cruise terminal will not be served by public transport, other than taxis and a green minibus service which operates to nearby Kowloon Bay MTR Station. Coach shuttles from the cruise terminal will be arranged by cruise operators to transport passengers to tourist areas. Kai Tak MTR Station is expected open in 2018 when the first phase of the Sha Tin - Central Link is completed and a feasibility study is being undertaken and expected to be completed in 2017, which will investigate plans for a HK$12 billion monorail system serving Kai Tak. The monorail would have 12 stations including interchange stations for the MTR Kwun Tong Line and Sha Tin - Central Link and , if approved, is expected to be operational in 2023.
In March 2013, the cruise ship Celebrity Millennium carrying 2,158 passengers had berthed at the uncompleted cruise terminal in a navigational, berthing and logistical trial, with tents being set up on the apron for luggage handling and passengers being transported to attractions in coaches laid on by the cruise operator.
The design and build contract for the terminal building was awarded to Dragages Hong Kong Limited with the design by Foster and Partners who have already designed a number of iconic buildings in Hong Kong including the airport and HSBC building. The design of the terminal is a curvaceous structure intended to resemble a shark's open mouth facing the sea.
The tenancy for operating and managing the new cruise terminal was awarded to Worldwide Cruise Terminals Consortium (WCT). WCT is a joint venture of three companies, Worldwide Flight Services, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Neo Crown Ltd. Worldwide Flight Services already provides ground handling, air cargo and technical services at Hong Kong International Airport. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd is one of the world's leading cruise companies and also has the experience in operating cruise terminals. The holding company of Neo Crown Ltd is Shun Tak Holdings Ltd, which has core businesses in property development, leasing and management, transportation, etc. The contract is for a ten-year period at a fixed rent of approximately HK$13 million. The Government will receive a percentage of the gross receipts of the operator as the variable rent, and the percentage of the gross receipts to be shared with the Government will increase as the gross receipts go up. The percentages of gross receipts that WCT will share with the Government range from 7.3 per cent to 34 per cent. There will be a mid-term review after five years to ensure service standards are being met.
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal website;
The new cruise terminal forms the first phase of the redevelopment of the old Kai Tak airfield under the "Energizing Kowloon East" project, which also includes construction of over 13,000 public housing units, 3 schools, government offices, a 45,000 seat sports stadium, public parks, waterfront promenade, almost 3km of roads and a monorail or tram transportation system. There will also be an 80-hectare tourist landmark, provisionally known as "Kai Tak Fantasy", which will encompass the tip of the old runway, Kwun Tong ferry pier and typhoon shelter and will reflect the aviation and maritime history of the area. The Kai Tak development is planned for final completion in 2021.
Oi!, a new art space located at 12 Oil Street, North Point, was officially opened on 21st May 2013. Under the management of the Art Promotion Office (APO) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) the venue, converted from a grade II historic building which was originally home to Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, provides a space for the community to experience art and a platform for art practitioners to experiment with their ideas of artistic creation.
Built in 1908, the century-old complex is a rare remaining example in Hong Kong of the Arts and Crafts design style. It consists of a main block and two ancillary buildings, drawing the onlooker's attention with its red brick walls and coarse stucco façade as well as eye-catching chimneys and plumbing, making it a notable landmark at the junction of Oil Street and Electric Road in North Point. Oi! is located next to the site of the now demolished Government Supplies Department building, which housed the former Oil Street Artist Village. After the department was relocated, the vacant building attracted local artists and organisations as short-term tenants, who used it for their studios and as a venue for events, giving birth to Hong Kong's first organically evolved art community.
Converted from a grade II historic building, Oi! is a rare remaining example of the Arts and Crafts design style in Hong Kong. The building is a notable landmark at the junction of Oil Street and Electric Road in North Point with its red brick walls and coarse stucco façade, as well as eye-catching chimneys and plumbing
Oi!'s Chinese name is related to its address at 12 Oil Street but also signifies a starting point from which budding artists can realise their dreams, whereas its English name, Oi!, conveys a message for people to unlock their creative potential and enrich Hong Kong's cultural life.
The development of the new art space has been aided by the valuable contributions of local arts practitioners, as well as members of the Art Museum Advisory Panel and the Museum Expert Advisers of the LCSD. In addition, MTR Corporation generously donated the old railway sleepers which have been reused for paving the paths outside the main entrance and galleries of the art space.
Oi! occupies a total of 2,140 square meters of land with two exhibition galleries of approximately 190 and 92 sq m respectively. It also has a lawn of about 300 sq m with flourishing trees, offering a green oasis among the dense urban buildings. The lawn will be used for displaying outdoor works to demonstrate the fusion of art and environment.
The lawn of about 300 square metres which can be used for displaying outdoor works to demonstrate the fusion of art and environment
With a vision of inspiring communities through co-creative experiences that connect people to art, Oi! will collaborate with various organisations and artists in organising diversified programmes and activities.
Oi! houses two exhibition galleries of approximately 190 and 92 square metres
"Embark! Beyond the Horizon", the first exhibition of Oi! runs from 22nd May 2013 to 18th August 2013. Using the various forms of water as themes to echo its importance as the only remaining building of the original pre-reclamation 1930s North Point coastline, four artists comprising Cédric Maridet, Tang Kwok-hin and Tsang Kin-wah from Hong Kong and Yuan Gong from Mainland China have created a variety of artworks to demonstrate Oi!'s infinite possibilities.
The works on display include "Together" by Yuan Gong, who uses mist and fog to create a spectacular space in which the audience can appreciate their independent status, while at the same time being aware of one another's presence. Cédric Maridet created "The Mechanics of Shadows: Water Days" by collecting the sounds of the sea and waves around Hong Kong and projecting them as a means to question our relationship with sound. Tang Kwok-hin created his work, "Before Rain After", by using utensils collected from the streets and shops around the art space to catch rainwater. The collection of rainwater and process of boiling it until it vaporises were recorded by Tang on video, showing the return the water to the atmosphere and symbolising our contradictory worship of nature. "The Prelude of The Seven Bowls", created by Tsang Kin-wah, is a multi-channel video and sound installation that uses footage of the 2011 Japan tsunami to demonstrate the power of nature and enable the audience to see beyond the disaster to a better future.
"Together" created by Yuan Gong, one of the participating artists of the "Embark! Beyond the Horizon" exhibition. The artist used the form of mist and fog to create a spectacular space where visitors can recognise their independent status, and at the same time feel one another's presence and situation
The exhibition is also one of the programmes of "Vibrant Hong Kong", part of the "Hong Kong: Our Home" Campaign. Admission is free. This exhibition will be followed by "Living Art Projects at Oi!", which begins with the theme of "Green Art" using upcycled materials to create works of art and add value and significance to previously discarded objects. In addition, "Ignite! Hong Kong Art Portfolio Collection" is a new online platform for participants to share their portfolios with curators, who can then use this channel to connect with the artists for another series of exhibitions. "Splash! Garden Blooms" is a project that invites talented individuals and landscape artists to create works for Oi!'s lawn area. "Connectivity - Art In Progress" welcomes local artists or art organisations to present their ideas and concepts, and encourages them to elaborate on their creations at Oi!.
Oi! is open from 10am to 8pm from Tuesdays to Sundays and on public holidays, and from 2pm to 8pm on Mondays. It closes at 5pm on Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year Eve, and is closed on the first two days of Chinese New Year. Admission is free.
For more details of Oi! and its programmes see the Arts Promotion Office website;
ICC LIGHT AND MUSIC SHOW
The ICC Light and Music Show by Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) premiered on 25th April 2013 and has been recognised with a Guinness World Record certificate for largest light and sound show on a single building. The show combines music and story in light on two façades of International Commerce Centre (ICC) facing the harbour totalling 50,000 square metres, with a Love Hong Kong message on the world-famous Victoria Harbour skyline. The show follows the trend of using LED displays on building facades.
The first season of the ‘ICC Light and Music Show’ features a story of ‘adventure, courage and love’ along the line of “Love Hong Kong”. The story combines 5 music plays into one episode with powerful yet upbeat rhythms, accompanied by water flow and bird singing sequences. The animation is designed along the “Love Hong Kong” theme with spring elements in lively vibrant mood, including a special ‘Love Hong Kong’ pattern with spirit-lifting light and music storyline presenting “Love Hong Kong”.
The show is the brainchild of Hirohito Totsune, renowned Japanese lighting designer with achievements recognized by a leading international lighting design association. This is his latest project after the Tokyo Skytree lighting. The towering 118-floor ICC, Hong Kong's tallest building at 490-metres, posed a challenge with its height and width in creating and projecting highly-detailed graphics. Hirohuto Totsune and his team created almost a thousand sketches for the animation that fills the ICC façades through a programme controlling each LED at 30 frames per second. The result is a breakthrough in beautifully rendered animation that surpasses traditional lighting design.
The new ICC Light and Music Show holds the Guinness World Record for the largest light and sound show on a single building
The show takes place twice nightly at 7-45pm and 9pm. Recommended viewing places are the outdoor terraces of Podium Levels 3 and 4 of IFC Mall and anywhere along the waterfront promenades of Hong Kong Island, from Sheung Wan to Causeway Bay. The accompanying music is broadcast at Podium Levels 3 and 4 of IFC Mall and at ICC and tailor-made ICC Light and Music Show apps are available for iPhone and Android platforms enabling the public to listen to the synchronised music. For further details see the ICC Light and Music Show website;
FONG YUEN STUDY HALL TOURISM AND CHINESE CULTURAL CENTRE CUM MA WAN RESIDENTS MUSEUM
Located at Tin Liu Village on Ma Wan Island, Fong Yuen Study Hall was built by the Chan Clan during the 1930's. The Chans believed in the importance of education for their children and the study hall was built as a permanent school to replace its predecessor, the Chan Study Hall which had been a small rural private school. However, like other remote schools in Hong Kong, the Fong Yuen Study Hall finally had to close down in 2003 owing to a dwindling student population brought about by a number of social changes.
The renovated historic Fong Yuen Study Hall
The Development Bureau launched the “Revitalising Historic Buildings through the Partnership Scheme” in 2008 and Fong Yuen Study Hall was selected in the first batch of buildings for this programme. In 2010, Fong Yuen Study Hall was listed as a Grade III historic building by the Antiquities Advisory Board. The Development Bureau recommended that the study hall be revitalised into a Ma Wan Residents Museum cum Tourism and Chinese Cultural Centre and to be operated by the Social Service Department of Yuen Yuen Institute. The revitalisation work was completed in September 2012 and the site opened to the public in March 2013.
The architectural design of the building is of a minimalist style with a combination of Chinese and Western features including tube-shaped porcelain roof tiles, decorated rooftop walls with carvings of "Po-phase flowers", a Chinese Buddhist auspicious patterrn of peony and lotus flowers, Western style parapet walls carved with traditional Chinese patterns and concrete balcony railings with geometric patterns. A permanent exhibition features a traditional fishing boat which was also used as a dwelling for the entire family, calligraphy exhibit at which visitors can try out Chinese calligraphy, a portrait of Confucious and a flower gun fireworks exhibit explaining the activities of the annual Tin Hau Festival held on the island.
The study hall also operates guided tours of Ma Wan and various Chinese culture and art courses including Cantonese Opera, tai chi and brush painting.
Fong Yuen Study Hall is located at Tin Liu Tsuen, Ma Wan and is open on Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 5pm and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9am to 6pm. There is a small admission charge of HK$10.
The study hall can be reached by taking the Park Island Ferry from Central Pier 2 to Park Island Pier, from where the study hall is a 15-minute walk. The study hall can also be reached by Park Island buses NR330 from Tsing Yi MTR Station Exit C, NR331 from Tsuen Wan MTR Station Exit B2, NR332 from Metro Plaza, Kwai Fong or NR334 from Terminal 2 Coach Station, Hong Kong International Airport. The study hall is a 5-minute walk from the bus stop opposite Kei Wai Primary School (Ma Wan).
HONG KONG MARITIME MUSEUM RELOCATED, ENLARGED AND REOPENED
Hong Kong Maritime Museum has reopened at its new location, Central Ferry Pier 8, on 26th February 2013, having been closed since June 2012, when the lease on its previous premises at Murray House, Stanley expired. The new location was formerly the pier for Star Ferry services between Central and Hung Hom which ceased to operate at the end of March 2011. The museum occupies the eastern berth of the upper and lower deck levels and the whole of the public viewing deck and roof viewing deck. The western berth of the pier and upper and lower deck levels are being retained by Star Ferry Pier Company and a marriage registration company.
The non-profit making private museum was founded in 2004 by Hong Kong Shipowners Association and first opened to the public at Murray House in 2005. Since opening, the number of exhibits has increased from about 650 to over 3,000 and the library collection has increased from about 20 to over 2000 books and the museum had quickly outgrown its gallery space. The location of the museum was also considered inconvenient for educational visits, being some distance from Hong Kong's central districts and many schools. The Hong Kong Government agreed to lease the site the museum for ten years at a nominal rent of one dollar per annum and provide financial support by contributing HK$99.3 million of the HK$101.2 million cost of relocation and construction works for adapting the premises, with the museum funding the remaining costs. The Government will also contribute up to about HK$4.5 million of the estimated HK$12 -14 million annual operating costs for the first five years of operation. The new museum, which illustrates over 2,000 years of maritime history, has a floor space of over 4,000 square-metres, almost ten times the floor space of the Murray House location and features fifteen themed galleries including a viewing gallery, a special exhibitions gallery, maritime heritage resource centre and shop. A cafe will also open shortly.
The relocation and expansion has provided Hong Kong with another first-class museum and brings welcome new life the Central waterfront which has been blighted by reclamation work for many years.
For more information regarding Hong Kong Maritime Museum see MUSEUMS - HONG KONG ISLAND
Hong Kong Maritime Museum's new, enlarged premises at Central Pier 8
WING LEE STREET TONG LAU CONSERVATION AND INFORMATION CENTRE
Wing Lee Street in Sheung Wan is a terrace containing twelve tenement buildings of which all but three were originally scheduled for demolition under the plans for the Urban Renewal Authority (URA)’s Staunton Street/Wing Lee Street Development Scheme dating back to 2003. The street is the last remaining street in Hong Kong entirely lined with tong lau, typical post-war 1950’s Chinese-style buildings and the tong lau on Wing Lee Street are unique to Hong Kong and southern China. At one time the street contained eleven printing workshops. However, the last letterpress printing shop in the street, Wai Che Printing Company, closed in December 2012, although its Original Heidelberg Cylinder Letter Press Machine has been moved to Youth Square at Chai Wan, where it will form part of an exhibition on printing. Its owner, Lee Zak-yue, had worked at the company for over 60 years.
Wing Lee Street, location for the highly acclaimed film "Echoes of the Rainbow", seen before the URA's restoration project began. The first building on the left, number 1, was occupied by the last printing works in the street, Wai Che Printing Company, until closing in December 2012. Its original Heidelberg printing press has been saved and will be displayed as part of a printing exhibition at Youth Square, Chai Wan
Acquisition offers by the URA commenced in 2008. However, public opposition to the original scheme intensified after the highly acclaimed film “Echoes of the Rainbow” was shot on the street and won an award at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival. The film, which was also submitted for nomination for an Oscar as Best Foreign Language to the 83rd Academy Awards, is set in the 1960’s when Hong Kong was under British rule and depicts the life of a working family in Hong Kong whose popular eldest son and star athlete becomes ill with leukaemia. In March 2010 the URA announced an alternative concept whereby no further acquisition approaches would be made and all twelve tenement buildings on Wing Lee Street would be preserved. Under the new plan various measures were proposed to compensate both tenants who stay and tenants who move out including;
(i) a "Home Environment Improvement Allowance" ranging from HK$40,000 to HK$80,000 for every tenant household who opts to stay at Wing Lee Street to improve their living environment and provide temporary allowance for accommodation elsewhere when their flats are under renovation
(ii) Rental, for affected tenants, of flats in the URA rehousing block at No 466, Des Voeux Road West, at a rate comparable to the public housing rental rates.
(iii) A relocation allowance to tenants who opt to move elsewhere.
(iv) “Special Rehabilitation Allowance” and “Special Allowance for Rehabilitation of Common Areas” for property owners participating in the conservation of Wing Lee Street
(v) a "Home Environment Improvement Allowance" ranging from HK$40,000 to HK$80,000 per household for owner-occupiers who succeed in applying for the “Special Rehabilitation Allowance”
In July 2011 the Town Planning Board announced approval of the Urban Renewal Authority Staunton Street/Wing Lee Street development scheme plan with excision of Wing Lee Street and Bridges Street Market site from the plan and incorporation of the excised area into an outline zoning plan.
Only four of the twelve tenement buildings, numbers 5,7,8 & 9 have been renovated as the URA has not been able to acquire the remaining tenements which are in the hands of property acquisition companies or still occupied by the original residents. Under the renovation programme, which has cost about HK$14 million, original features such as floor tiles and staircase railings have been retained as far as possible and a kitchen has been added to each of the renovated tenements. The exterior facades have been retained.
Wing Lee Street, seen after renovation of four tenements
In November 2012, one of the renovated tenements, 5 Wing Lee Street, was opened as Artist Home Base, an artist-in-residence programme run by Hong Kong Arts Centre. This tenement is divided into four flats which are to be made available, from January 2013, to overseas and Chinese mainland artists to live in and create works inspired by the surrounding environment. The arts centre spent HK$100,000 on furnishing the flats and will charge only a management fee of HK$350 a day for residencies of up to three months.
Number 5, left, now houses Artist Home Base, an artist in residence scheme operated by Hong Kong Arts Centre
In February 2013, 7 Wing Lee Street was opened to the public by the URA as an information centre. The centre, which is open from 10am to 7pm daily (free admission), enables visitors to view the interior of the renovated tenement. Display boards illustrate the history of the locality and the effect of bubonic plague and subsequent development of tenement housing in the district and explain the URA’s restoration project. The centre also allows local Non-Governmental Organisations to organise community events and during Chinese New Year 2013, Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) organised a traditional Chinese “Poon-choi” Feast (Big Bowl Feast) in the street. HKFYG, together with the Architectural Conservation Programme of Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong have also organised a heritage photo exhibition in the centre.
7 Wing Lee Street, one of the renovated tenements, opened to the public by the URA as an information centre in February 2013
CENTRAL WATERFRONT PROMENADE
During late November 2012, a section of the new Central Waterfront Promenade was opened to the public. The promenade, which stretches from Central Pier 10 to just beyond Tamar Park, outside the new Central Government Headquarters and Legislative Council Building at Admiralty, is built on reclaimed land and runs above the tunnel for the Central – Wan Chai Bypass, currently under construction as part of the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation Project, which commenced in 2003 and is expected to be completed in 2017.
Central Waterfront Promenade elevated viewing deck, looking towards Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
The promenade, which features elevated viewing decks, also provides easy traffic-free access for pedestrians between Star Ferry Pier and Admiralty Station. Under an agreement signed in 1994 between the Chinese and UK governments, a stretch of about 150-metres of waterfront, reclaimed under the Central - Wan Chai Reclamation Plan, is reserved for a military dock for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which has its Hong Kong Garrison Headquarters nearby. The promenade, which will be extended to Fenwick Pier in early 2013, links up with the Statue Square Corridor, currently under development, which will provide an continous open space deck running from Statue Square to the promenade and the Civic Corridor, also under development, an arts and entertainment and green space area, running behind the promenade to Tamar Park, which will include a Civic Plaza venue for civic events, linked to the promenade by an elevated deck.
Central Waterfront Promenade, view towards Central Star Ferry Pier. The promenade provides an easy traffic-free route for pedestrians between Star Ferry Pier and Admiralty Station via Tamar Park. Under an agreement signed in 1994 between the Chinese and UK governments, a 150-metre stretch of waterfront, seen in the middle distance, is reserved for a military dock for the Chinese People's Liberation Army
Although the public are now able to access the promenade, some of the landscaping work and creation of green space remains to be completed but toilet facilities and a refreshment kiosk, iBakery Express, operated by Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, and employing persons with disabilities in bakery production as a social enterprise have since opened. The promenade breathes much need new life into an area of Central Hong Kong, which, having been blighted by construction work for many years, will be transformed into a leisure area of public space to be enjoyed by both locals and tourists with al fresco dining, landscaped lawns and providing an attractive waterfront entertainment venue.
Waterfront promenade looking towards Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
Shortly prior to the promenade’s opening, the first public event to be held on lawns in the Statue Square Corridor adjacent to the promenade, was held when RTHK staged its popular “Symphony Under the Stars” televised concert. An observation wheel, similar to those in some other tourist destinations, such as the “London Eye”, is expected to be installed, near to the promenade, between Central Piers 9 & 10 during 2013.
Elevated boardwalk and upper promenade. The new waterfront will feature plenty of green space at Tamar Park, which opened in 2011, in front of the new Central Government Headquarters and new lawns
HONG KONG AVENUE OF COMIC STARS
Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars, which was officially opened on 28th September 2012, is a path of around 100 metres in length and new tourist attraction in Kowloon Park featuring fibreglass statues of local comic characters dating back to the 1960's, including Old Master Q, Cowboy, Wang Xiao Hu and McDull. The statues, each up to 3-metres high cost between HK$1.5 million to HK$2 million to build. Visitors are able to take photos with the characters or place hands on the handprints of local comic artists like Dr Tony Wong and Mr Ma Wing-shing. For visitors wishing to know more about Hong Kong comics, guided tours in Cantonese, English or Putonghua are available.
Located near the Park Lane Shopper's Boulevard entrance of Kowloon Park, the avenue displays 24 sets of vividly painted figurines of local comic characters and 10 bronze handprints of local comic artists. There is also a Gallery of Comic History and Development and a Gallery of Comic Education to introduce visitors to Hong Kong comics history, the production process, tools, workshops and manuscripts. Since the Avenue's opening, the comic characters have been given a "3D-makeover" in July 2013 by local action figure designers as part of the "Comics x Figures Hong Kong Ani-Com Figure Show".
Visitors exploring Hong Kong Comic Avenue of Stars during its opening day, 28th September 2012
The comics industry makes an important contribution to Hong Kong's creative industries and has benfited the local economy. The Government's sponsorship to set up the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars is intended as a further boost to the promotion of the industry. Since the establishment of Create Hong Kong office in June 2009, the Government has sponsored over ten projects amounting to some HK$18 million to drive the development of the industry.
"Cloud", one of the comic characters depicted on the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars
The avenue is a three-year project sponsored by Create Hong Kong and co-organised by Hong Kong Comics and Animation Federation, Hong Kong Productivity Council, Hong Kong Digital Entertainment Industry Support Centre, Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Arts and Culture Co-ordinating Committee of the Yau Tsim Mong District Council.
Guided tours and interactive workshops will be organised to give tourists and students a deeper understanding of the exhibits and large scale activities will also be held annually to highlight the avenue's status as a new tourism spot.
Hong Kong Avenue of Stars is open daily from 5am until midnight and admission is free.
For full details see the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Star's website;
City Gallery, Hong Kong’s first permanent planning and infrastructure gallery was opened to the public on 22nd August 2012. The gallery, located at the City Hall Annex at 3 Edinburgh Place, Central, replaces the Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery which opened in 2002 and was originally located on the ground floor only of the building. The former gallery was closed in April 2009 and replaced by an interim temporary gallery located on the ground floor of the Murray Road Multi-storey Car Park Building until May 2012.
Occupying five storeys with a floor area of more than 3,200 square metres, the gallery, which has spectacular views over Victoria Harbour, offers a range of interactive exhibits to showcase Hong Kong's unique past and future, as well as share with the public the vision for city planning and infrastructure projects.
City Gallery, located in the City Hall Annex at Edinburgh Place
The ground floor is the location of periodic themed temporary exhibitions and permanent exhibitions “City Hall Annex History” and “Unique Hong Kong”. The first floor showcases “Living Environment”, “Protecting Our Heritage” and “Hong Kong Next Century”, second floor exhibitions feature “Strategic Picture”, “Strategic Infrastructure”, Transport and Communications” and “Sustainable Development” and the third floor “Main Show” is a 17-minute audio-visual introduction to Hong Kong's remarkable past development as well as plans for the city's future. The fourth floor houses the Resource Centre (not yet open), equipped with work stations for visitors to search information related to planning and infrastructures, as well as browsing through the catalogue. Also on the fourth floor is the 180-seat Multi-purpose Hall which is used as a conference and seminar venue.
Simulator, located on the 2nd floor, enables visitors to appreciate planned major transport and communications projects
There are free 90-minute guided tours on a first-come, first-served basis for up to 25 participants, conducted in English on Sundays and public holidays at 3-30pm, in Cantonese on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays at 11am and in Putonghua on Saturdays and public holidays at 3pm.
City Gallery is open from 10am to 6pm on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesday to Saturday. Closed on Tuesdays (except Tuesdays which fall on a public holiday) and the first two days of Chinese New Year.
Admission is free.
Hysan Place, in the heart of Causeway Bay's shopping district, is the first major shopping mall to open on Hong Kong Island since 2003
The first major shopping mall to open on Hong Kong Island since 2003, Hysan Place at Lee Gardens, opened on 10th August 2012 on the site of the former Hennessy Centre on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, which was demolished in 2006. The 36-storey retail and office development by Hysan Development Company, features 17 floors of retail shops, cafes and restaurants with a floor area of about 270,000 sq ft. The development is part of Hysan's Lee Gardens "concept zone" which includes Hysan's existing retail malls Lee Gardens One and Two, Lee Theatre and Leighton Centre. There are about 120 shops operating in the mall including some international brands who have not previously had outlets in Hong Kong. Japanese brands Deicy, Shel’tter, NINE, Language and Double Standard Clothing have all opened stores on the fourth floor and Taiwanese bookstore chain Eslite, occupying three floors, is Hong Kong's largest bookstore which became the city's first 24-hour bookstore, opening continously from Thursday to Sunday but has since curtailed its closing time to 11pm daily. However, from October 2012, the bookstore will extend its closing time to 2am on Thursdays to Saturdays and on the eve of public holidays. T Galleria, operated by global luxury goods chain DFS Galleria occupies two floors. Hong Kong's third Apple Store opens at Hysan Place in mid-December 2012 and Hollister is opening its second Hong Kong store in early 2013. For further details see SHOPPING MALLS - HONG KONG ISLAND
YAU MA TEI THEATRE AND THE RED BRICK BUILDING
Yau Ma Tei Theatre, closed for 14 years, reopened as a Cantonese Opera theatre and training centre on 17th July 2012 following a major renovation project. The theatre, built in 1930 at junction of Waterloo Road and Shanghai Street, was formerly a cinema and is the only remaining pre-World War II theatre in urban Hong Kong. The theatre was built during the era of silent movies, when visiting the cinema was still an aristocratic leisure pursuit and it originally attracted a mostly upper class and white collar clientèle. However, during the 1980's the theatre began to screen erotic films until finally closing in 1998.
A HK$180 million renovation project commenced in 2008, funded by the Architectural Services Department, has now been completed to restore the Grade 2 listed building to its former glory. The distinctive cream painted theatre has an art deco facade, dutch gable walls and Chinese pitched roof. The building's most striking features are, however, the two pillars at the front entrance, engraved with crying and laughing masks, and the proscenium arch. Two walls on either side of the stage, which are believed to have supported a balcony for someone making a narration or voice-over during movies have been preserved.
The newly-renovated Yau Ma Tei Theatre, which had its Grand Reopening on 17th July 2012, has become a Cantonese Opera training centre as well as giving short performances for tourists and full-length performances by aspiring actors
The 300-seat theatre will stage short Cantonese opera performances lasting 45 minutes, to entertain and provide an introduction to the art form to tourists as well as full-length performances by young artists as the theatre becomes a training hub. During the first year there will be 72 short performances and 130 full-length performances and the theatre is expected to eventually produce up to 500 performances a year. In October 2012 Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Travel Council of Hong Kong launched "Experience Cantopera - a Taste of Hong Kong's Intangible Cultural Heritage", a 45-minute programme of performances by young and upcoming artists from the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong tailor-made for foreign visitors as an introduction to Cantonese Opera. The programme runs until February 2013.
The Red Brick Building, opposite the theatre on Shanghai Street has also been restored and houses administrative offices for the theatre, souvenir shop and function rooms. The two-storey building dating back to 1895 was originally staff quarters for a pumping station supplying extracted well water for Kowloon. After reservoirs were later constructed in the New Territories parts of the building were used as a post office and for storage. After World War II, the building served as a hawkers' licensing center, and in the late 1960s served part for community use, mainly as a reading room. In 1988, it became a shelter for street sleepers but gained a reputation as a haven for drug dealers. It was awarded Grade 1 historical building status in 2000 and the government decided to combine the site with Yau Ma Tei Theatre in 2007 and embark on a restoration programme for both buildings. The distinctive red bricks are sourced from Guangzhou.
The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong performs the Cantonese opera works "Blessing by the God of Fortune" and "A Fairy Delivers Her Son to the Mortal Father" after the opening ceremony on 17th July 2012
The Grade 1 listed Red Brick Building, formerly the Engineer's Office of the Pumping House dating back to 1895, has also been renovated and opened in May 2012 as administrative offices, event venue and souvenir shop for the theatre
TAI O HERITAGE HOTEL (OLD TAI O POLICE STATION)
Old Tai O Police Station, dating back to 1902, is one of the few remaining historic rural police stations and is a fine example of a typical colonial-style building of the period with a distinctive façade characterized by its arched verandahs, traditional timber pitched roof and Chinese pan-and-roll roof tiles. The government-owned landmark, which was declared a Grade III Historic Building in 1988, has been renovated by Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited under the Hong Kong government’s "Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership" scheme. The HK$67 million project commenced in June 2010 and was completed when the building reopened as the “Tai O Heritage Hotel” on 21st March 2012. It stands on a small wooded hillside at Shek Tsai Po Street, overlooking the entrance to Tai O harbour, near Tai O Ferry Pier.
The newly renovated Old Tai O Police Station, now Tai O Heritage Hotel, is visible through the trees and sits is a commanding location overlooking the entrance to Tai O Harbour
Tai O had been a remote fishing village on Lantau Island on the south China coast for centuries before the leasing of the New Territories, including Lantau Island and the other outlying islands, to the British in 1898. A village settlement at Tai O is believed to date back to the late Ming Dynasty and was recorded on a late 16th century coastal map of Kwang Tung (Guangdong). The fishing villages in Tai O were originally inhabited by mainly Tanka fishermen who lived on their fishing boats or in stilt houses. They were later joined by Hoklo people and other immigrants. With its fishery and salt pan production, the villages in Tai O became more developed towards the end of Qing Dynasty (end of 19th to early 20th century) with a local street market operating along Wing On Street and Kat Hing Street. Following British colonisation, enforcement of the British administrative authority soon reached Tai O and in May 1899 a Chinese style house began to be used as a temporary police station, regarded as a yamen (magistrate office). In 1902, a permanent police station was built at the current site to reinforce the police forces on Lantau Island and officers of the Old Tai O Police Station remained under the control of the marine police from its opening until its closure in 1996. They were mainly responsible for the public security of the villages in Tai O and patrolled within the community by means of sampan. Goods coming in and out of Tai O had to be declared to Customs and visitors needed to be interrogated by the police before landing at Tai O Pier. Fifteen police officers were initially assigned to the Police Station in 1903 and records show that in the early 1950s, there were only fourteen police officers, a translator and an assistant working at the station. European officers usually occupied the higher rank positions, whereas the Indian officers patrolled on the streets and the Chinese officers were engaged in clerical work.
During renovation the arched verandahs, which had been blocked out, were opened up and restored to their original appearance
The verandah before renovation
During the 1920’s villagers living in Tai O had regularly been bothered by bandits and a brutal robbery occurred in Tai O Village on 25 March 1925. About 60 bandits held up and robbed thirty-five houses and shops. The villagers were unable to inform the police until the bandits left and, according to elderly villagers, the Old Tai O Police Station was also captured by the bandits at that time. In the late 1930’s the marine police were kept occupied when, for three years prior to the invasion in 1941, the Japanese army began attacking Chinese fishing vessels. There were 71 attacks on Hong Kong-based vessels and whilst some were seen as legitimate targets, aiding the Chinese war effort, many were unprovoked.
In December 1996, Old Tai O Police Station closed, with most of its officers being redeployed to the Lung Tin Estate Report Centre. From 1996 to 2002 it was used merely as a police report post and was then disused until its recent rebirth as the Tai O Heritage Hotel.
According to the Government Gazette in 1903, the Old Tai O Police Station originally consisted of two buildings, namely the Main Building and the Outhouse. The Main Building is a two-storey building, which once contained a charge-room, two cells, dormitories for officers, three bathrooms and one storeroom. The Outhouse, partly two-storey and partly one-storey, was connected to the Main Building by a covered bridge and contained kitchens, drying-room, store, Indian officers’ bathroom, an interpreter’s room, accommodation for servants and latrines. Since 1952, various plans had been proposed for extensions or reconstruction of the buildings to resolve its overcrowded and unhygienic conditions but the final design, which was to demolish the one-storey part of the Outhouse and build a new one-storey barrack accommodation extension connected to the two-storey part of the Outhouse, was not implemented until 1961 with work being completed in 1962. Before completion of the new barrack there was no piped water to the Old Tai O Police Station and water was transported manually to the Police Station by boat.
The former charge room and holding cells, now a heritage interpretation centre and hotel reception
Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited, a local non-profit-making subsidiary of Sino Group, established for promoting local heritage conservation, was selected from five applicants and granted approval for adaptive reuse of the Old Tai O Police Station as a living heritage hotel in 2009. Renovation work has included opening up the verandahs, which were closed off by modern windows, to restore the original façade of the Main Building, and restoration of other external features including the watch towers and searchlight. The original reporting room is now the hotel reception, which along with the adjacent jail cells form a heritage interpretation and exhibition centre. A new pitched glass roof extends from the accommodation block over the outside balcony to create a rooftop restaurant. The hotel has five rooms and four suites of 200 sq ft to 400 sq ft size, each with fireplace, wooden windows and floorboards and costing from HK$1380 to HK$2300 per night. Although the two watch towers have been restored they are not accessible to the public as the access ladders are considered unsafe. An inclined glass-sided lift has been installed to enable access from Shek Tsai Po Street for people with mobility difficulties. The hotel is open to the public from 11am to 6pm daily when visitors can view the Interpretation Centre and renovated buildings and guided tours of the hotel are available twice daily at 3pm and 4pm. As well as preserving the historical heritage of Tai O it is hoped the hotel will help boost tourism to the village.
Outdoor patio area in front of the old accommodation block. The glass-roofed cafe and restaurant can be seen above and behind the parasols
Tai O Heritage Hotel website;
LEGCO COMPLEX GUIDED TOUR
The Legislative Council (LegCo) of Hong Kong was originally established under British rule in 1843 and met in the Council Chamber of the Central Government Offices until 1985 when it moved to the first Legislative Council Building, the former Supreme Court Building, dating back to 1912, on Jackson Road alongside Statue Square. Following the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (HKSAR) was established and, in 1998, in accordance with Basic Law of HKSAR, the Legislative Council of Hong Kong SAR was established, replacing the Provisional Legislative Council which had been formed in 1996 during preparation for the handover. The Legco continued to operate from the former Supreme Court Building until its final session before the 2011 summer recess. It began operating from the new LegCo Complex, adjacent to the new Central Government Offices at Tamar in Admiralty in September 2011. The former Supreme Court Building is to become home to the Court Of Final Appeal in 2013 or 2014.
The LegCo Complex (left) is part of the Tamar Development Project which includes the new Central Government Offices (right). The Lego-like bridge structure represents an "ever-open door" symbolising accessibility of the Government to its citizens
Since January 2012, free guided educational tours of the new LegCo Complex have been available to the public, as as well as schools and charitable organisations. The tours, which last about one hour and can each accommodate up to 45 visitors, are conducted mainly in Cantonese but are also available in English and Putonghua on certain days. Tickets can be booked online or, subject to availability, obtained on a “walk-in” basis on the day.
Guided Tour participants can visit the Public Gallery of the Council Chamber
The tour explains the history, structure and work of the LegCo and visits some of the facilities in the complex including the Public Gallery of the Council Chamber (when the council is not in session), Memory Lane (a display of old photographs, memorabilia and historical documents), the Viewing Gallery with panoramic views over Victoria Harbour to the Kowloon Peninsula, the observation area of Conference Rooms 2 & 3, the Educational Galleries and Educational Activities Room.
"Memory Lane", displays the history of the LegCo with photographs, memorabilia and historical documents
In the Main Lobby visitors can find The LegCo Souvenir Shop with a range of gifts, souvenirs, educational resources and stationery and The Cafeteria, which offers a variety of meals, light refreshments and drinks.
The spacious and light Main Lobby of the LegCo Complex. The artwork above the escalators depicts citizens from all walks of life, which the LegCo represents
Outside the Main Lobby is the LegCo Garden, an area of open space and LegCo Square, a multi-purpose venue for leisure and activities, where a national and regional flag-raising ceremony is conducted every morning and the complex is located next to Tamar Park, opened in October 2011, which is also part of the Tamar Development Project and offers green lawns and seating with views over Victoria Harbour.
The old LegCo building (the former Supreme Court Building), alongside Statue Square will become home of the Court Of Final Appeal, following the opening of the LegCo Complex at Tamar
For details of schedule of Guided Tours and booking arrangements see the LegCo website;
ASIA SOCIETY HONG KONG CENTER
THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB FORMER EXPLOSIVES MAGAZINE
Asia Society Hong Kong Center The Hong Kong Jockey Club Former Explosives Magazine on Justice Drive, Admiralty which opened in February 2012
An explosives magazine compound containing four former British military buildings which are among Hong Kong's oldest remaining colonial buildings, and forming part of the former Victoria Barracks, has been renovated and given a new lease of life as the home of the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, which opened on 9th February 2012. The heritage and conservation project has been supported by generous donations from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and other local and international donors.
The compound, located next to the British Consulate on Justice Drive was built to store explosives. Former Magazine A and the Former Laboratory were constructed between 1863 and 1868 and Former Magazine B between 1905 and 1907. All three buildings are listed Grade 1 Historical Buildings. GG Block, a later addition built in the late 1940's, is a Grade 2 Historical Building. Raw materials for ammunition production were loaded on Arsenal Street, named after the barracks, and transported up to the compound by a pulley system. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Royal Navy took over the site from the British Army and expanded the compound. The compound was later used by the government for storage until the 1970's, when it became a depot before being left vacant since the 1980's. Following the 1997 handover, the compound was transferred to the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Owing to rumours that the compound had been used to store secret documents, investigations were carried out to establish that there were no national security documents before the compound was returned to the government.
The Asia Society, which was founded in New York by John D Rockefeller 3rd in 1956, is a non-profit, non-governmental educational organisation dedicated to furthering understanding of the countries and Asian culture and global issues that affect the region. Hong Kong was chosen as the society's first overseas office as the city best facilitates the East and West culture and Asia Society Hong Kong (ASHK) was established in 1990 by a group of local community leaders, led by the then Chairman of Hang Seng Bank, Sir QW Lee. ASHK has since developed into one of the community's leading forums for discussion of regional and global affairs. However, ASHK had never had a permanent home until the derelict Former Explosives Magazine Compound site was identified in 1999. An international competition was launched for the heritage conservation and revitalisation project with the successful bidders being US based world-renowned architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.
The Entry Pavilion to the ASHK Center contains a visitor centre and multi-purpose venue, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Hall. Asia Society Store in this compound is a gift shop contains arts and crafts products and books including ASHK Center branded items and products designed by local artists. GG Block, within the pavilion is one of the administrative wings of the society alongside GG garden which leads to AMMO Cafe which offers an Asian-inspired menu. From the Entry Pavilion a double-deck elbow-shaped footbridge spans a major nullah to reach the upper Heritage Compound. The renovated Former Laboratory is now the Starr-Greenberg Building which houses the multi-purpose Lee Quo Wei Room and Credit Suisse Room and the Hinrichs Administrative Wing.
The renovated Former Laboratory now houses the Starr-Greenberg Building
The Munitions Track along which explosives were transported in trucks has been restored and connects the Former Laboratory and the two magazines and along each side of the track are berms, artificial earth mounds with granite bases, designed to contain explosions. Between the two berms is Former Magazine A, which is now the Asia Society Gallery containing four exhibition rooms, to which Former Magazine B, now the Miller Theater with over 100 seats and stage, is connected by covered walkway.
Former Magazine A had interconnected barrel-vaulted spaces which have been turned into an exhibition venue with four chambers
During the excavation of the site several old Navy Boundary Stones with a unique anchor symbol were discovered scattered around and these have been preserved and returned to their original locations. It is believed the stones were laid when the Royal Navy took over the site from the British Army. Four cannons, also unearthed, have been preserved by the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and will be displayed on either side of one of the berms.
One of the unearthed boundary stones, believed to have been laid by the Royal, with unique anchor motif
The ASHK hosts almost 100 programmes and exhibitions a year, embracing Business & Policy, Heritage & Architecture and Arts & Culture, and almost all are open to the public as well as members. It also organises educational visits and workshops.
ASHK Center is open to the public. Admission to the site is free but there is an admission charge to visit the Gallery exhibitions.
LOCATION – 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty
Gallery – Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm. Last Thursday of the month 11am to 8pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays
Center & Asia Society Store – Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 6pm. Last Thursday of the month 10am to 9pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays
AMMO Cafe – Monday to Thursday 11am to midnight. Friday to Sunday and public holidays 11-30am to 1am
GALLERY ADMISSION – HK$30 adult, HK$15 Asia Society members, Seniors and persons with disabilities. Students and Under 18's free.
GETTING THERE – MTR Admiralty Station Exit C1. ASHK Center is next to British Consulate and opposite Conrad Hotel at the junction of Supreme Court Road and Justice Drive.
WEBSITE – www.asiasociety.org.hk
Tamar Park, which opened on 10th October 2011, was created using the concept of "Land Always Green". Located adjacent to the new Central Government Offices and Legislative Council Complex in the busy central business district, the park provides valuable green open space for residents, particularly those working in the business district, and visitors to escape from the bustling city surrounds. The 1.76-hectare park is managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and is part of the Tamar Development Project. In keeping with the environmentally friendly theme of the project, Tamar Park features large green lawns which visitors are free to stroll, sit and lie on.
Tamar Park provides a tranquil environment for relaxation in the heart of the city
The park was designed with the concept of elegant simplicity and allows visitors to appreciate the spectacular scenery of Victoria Harbour in a spacious environment. The park will also be linked up with the open space to be developed along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. The park also features a 240-seat amphitheatre which is open for booking by organisations for staging cultural and leisure activities as well as performances primarily. Other facilities in the park to be opened at a later stage upon completion of works include some water features as well as a cafe to be operated by a non-governmental organisation. Other open space at the Tamar Development, not forming part of Tamar Park, is managed by the Legislative Council (LEGCO) and is planned to include a lily pond, artwork installations and trees.
Adjacent to the Central Government Offices at Tamar, Tamar Park's spacious lawn areas provide precious green open space in the bustling central business district
Tamar Park is easily accessed by public transport. It can be reached by MTR (via Admiralty Station Exit A and a short walk along the footbridge) as well as a number of bus routes. For more information on access to Tamar Park see;
TAIPINGSHAN MEDICAL HERITAGE TRAIL
Taipingshan District on Hong Kong Island was, in the 1840's, the earliest district in Hong Kong to be reserved for the Chinese population to reside in. Neighbouring Sai Ying Pun District was developed a decade later. With a rapidly expanding population, these districts quickly became overcrowded and gave rise to poor sanitation. Bubonic Plague first broke out in Taipingshan in 1894 and severely affrected the area. These two districts contain many interesting relics of efforts to provide medical services to the community, including Traditional Chinese and Western medicine, as well as attempts at improving sanitation and public health. The Taipingshan Heritage Trail, opened in March 2011, was developed by Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences and is designed to promote interest in Hong Kong's unique and valuable medical heritage.
The recommended route is about 2km in length and starts at Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences . The trail takes in Caine Lane Garden (site of the former Disinfecting Station and Ambulance Depot), Blake Garden (which includes the site of the former London Missionary Chapel and Nethersole Dispensary), Water Lane, Pound Lane Bath House, Kwong Fuk I Tsz (inside Pak Shing Temple), Tung Wah Hospital, the site of the former Government Civil Hospital (now Tsan Yuk Hospital), site of former Lock Hospital, King George V Memorial Park (site of former Civil Hospital Annex and Quarters for Medical Superintendent), former Chinese Lunatic Asylum (now Methadone Clinic), former Nurse's Quarters and Old Mental Hospital (now Community Complex), the former site of Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital, Former Western District Plague Hospital and Chinese Public Dispensary (now Centre for Heritage) and Old Tsan Yak Hospital, Western Street (now Community Centre).
For further details see THE TAIPINGSHAN MEDICAL HERITAGE TRAIL
Pak Sing Temple, on Tai Ping Shan Street, within which is I Tsz, an ancestral hall which housed the dying during the plague in the late nineteenth century, containing ancestral tablets
HISTORIC KOWLOON-CANTON RAILWAY BELL RETURNED TO CLOCK TOWER
The bell from the Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui has been returned to the tower after 35 years. The relocation follows the donation of the bell by the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) and the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) to the Government. The bell was produced in the United Kingdom and arrived in Hong Kong in 1920. It began operation in the Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower in 1921 as part of the Tsim Sha Tsui railway terminus and chimed round the clock at 15-minute intervals. In 1975 the bell ceased operation when the railway terminus was relocated to Hung Hom. It has been moved several times since then and had been on public display at railway stations in Hung Hom and Sha Tin until 1995 when it was moved to the Railway House in Fo Tan. The bell has been a declared monument since 1990. The donation of the bell also coincides with the 100th anniversary of Kowloon-Canton Railway services. However the bell will no longer chime and sits on the ground floor level of the clock tower on a wooden frame constructed from original timber sleepers from the KCR line. The Tsim Sha Tsui terminus closed in 1978 to make way for Hong Kong Cultural Centre but the clock tower was retained. There is a possibility that the clock tower may be opened to the public in late 2010. The clock tower was previously open to the public until about 1999 but was subsequently closed as the stairs became unsafe. The stairs have since been restored but are unable to handle large numbers of visitors. Currently visitors can view the bell through an external window.
The clock tower bell which can only be viewed from an external window