Hong Kong’s Problem with Heritage

Kowloon Station, 1981. Photo by Loose Grip 99 It’s one of those mid-summer days when it seems impossible to escape the heat, so it comes as a relief to step into the air-conditioned room that houses Sparkle! Can We Live (Together), an oddly-named exhibition that explores the relationship between artists and the communities in which […]

Inside Victoria Prison

I’ve been seeing a lot of old Hong Kong photos lately. There was the John Thomson exhibition I wrote about last year, along with an even larger show of historic photography at the Museum of History. HSBC has just unveiled a new historical exhibition in the public space beneath its headquarters. Even Nick DeWolf’s photos, […]

New Life in Old Beijing, Part III

This is the final installment in a three-part series on preservation and urban transformation in Beijing’s hutongs. Half a kilometre from Tiananmen Square, an unexpected aroma wafts through the Beijing hutongs: fresh-roasted coffee. The source of that smell is just as surprising. Housed in a two-storey structure that was at various times a government-run printing […]

New Life in Old Beijing, Part II

When I arrived in Beijing on the third day of the Chinese New Year, I was expecting the city to be quiet, and it was, except on Nanluoguxiang, a long alleyway near the Drum and Bell Towers that is lined by small shops, cafés and restaurants. Nanluoguxiang was busy — swarming with people, in fact. […]

New Life in Old Beijing, Part I

Great Leap Brewery in Doujiao Hutong It’s the third day of the Chinese New Year and Beijing is taking a break. Traffic has unjammed itself, department stores are shuttered and bursts of fireworks cut through the cold, dry air. As my taxi passes over the Second Ring Road, the streets are quiet until the Gulou […]

In the Forest, in the City

All photos by JJ Acuna from the Wanderlister To get to the Asia Society’s Hong Kong Centre, you must go up. Up from the MTR through shopping mall escalators, up the steep slope of Justice Drive, towards skyscraping apartment towers and the jagged ridge of Victoria Peak. So it’s a surprise that when you finally […]

New Life for the Blue House

Hong Kong’s Blue House has a secret. The Wan Chai landmark, built in 1923, is known as one of the city’s last remaining examples of early shophouse architecture, but it is even more renowned for its azure hue – rare for a place where blue is associated primarily with funerals. But the colour came about […]

Design in a Police Dormitory

The sun has already fallen behind Hong Kong’s skyscrapers as architect Daniel Patzold stolls through the lower courtyard of the former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road. Beneath a row of tall banyan trees, on what was once a basketball court, 70 young designers are gathered to sell their products at Detour, a festival of […]

An Old Building Given New Life — For Now

In Hong Kong, the fate of an old building is virtually predetermined. Worn by years of intense use and little maintenance, it is snatched up by a property developer who waits for the right moment to knock it down and replace it with shoebox apartments, or maybe a cookie-cutter hotel. Carl Gouw wants to break […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on An Old Building Given New Life — For Now , , , ,

A Citadel of Colonial Power — For Sale

Later this year, when Hong Kong’s government moves its headquarters to a glassy new building next to Victoria Harbour, it will leave behind the leafy hill it has called home since the 1840s. Rather than conserve the hill for public use, however, the government wants to sell half of it to developers, who plan to […]

Bringing a River Back to Life

The Kai Tak River near Nga Tsin Wai Village Wallace Chang still remembers how disgusting the Kai Tak River was when he was a child living near its banks in the 1970s. “The water was in between grey and black and it flowed very slowly, almost stagnant,” he recalls. That didn’t stop him and his […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Environment, Heritage and Preservation, History, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Bringing a River Back to Life , , , ,

Say Goodbye to Old Hong Kong

Old buildings bought for redevelopment are displayed in the window of an acquisition company office on Victory Avenue in Ho Man Tin There goes the neighbourhood. A new government policy on compulsory sales in old buildings has led to a property gold rush in Hong Kong’s older districts, putting homeowners on guard and worrying many […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Demographics, Heritage and Preservation, Politics, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Say Goodbye to Old Hong Kong , , , , , ,

Hong Kong’s Disappearing Shophouses

Johnston Road, Wan Chai. Photo compilation by Lee Chi-man When Philip Kenny wanders around Hong Kong, taking photos for his blog on local heritage, one type of building always catches his interest: Chinese shophouses. “They are a reminder of what Hong Kong used to be like — a bit old and rickety, perhaps, but vastly […]

Hard Knocks for Hong Kong’s Trees

Wang Tong’s Ghost Tree. Photo by Larry Feign Furious residents of a village on the south side of Hong Kong’s Lantau Island say government workers have been hacking at the roots of a landmark rubber tree, raising questions about the government’s declared effort to improve tree management. Last Saturday, cartoonist Larry Feign was riding his […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Environment, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Hard Knocks for Hong Kong’s Trees , ,