Hong Kong Rooftops: Fotan

Wah Luen is the cheapest building in Fotan, an out-of-the-way industrial district near Shatin. Since the early 2000s, it has become the epicentre of an artists’ colony populated largely by graduates of the nearby Chinese University. About 100 artists live and work in the area, most of them in high-ceilinged studios in the Wah Luen Centre, a brooding hulk of a building whose floors are always slippery from sausage factories.

On the building’s large, bleak rooftop, which is crisscrossed by rusty pipes and pockmarked by mysterious caged enclosures, it becomes clear just how odd the Wah Luen’s setting really is — an outpost of industry surrounded, rather improbably, by verdant hills. Standing towards the hills, your field of vision is occupied by greenery and small village houses, but your ears ring with the sound of distant machinery and the beep-beep-beep of delivery trucks backing out of loading bays.

Occasionally, there are reminders of the building’s newfound artistic vocation. The last time I visited, on a sullen grey afternoon, a pile of cement bricks had been cryptically arranged like a miniature Stonehenge. I’m not sure if it was the work of one of Wah Luen’s resident artists or a wistful elevator mechanic. Who knows.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Friday April 30 2010at 01:04 pm , filed under Asia Pacific and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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