The Tortuous Path to Preservation

The Tung Fat Building seemed like the perfect opportunity for Victoria Allan to venture into property development. The nine-storey, 1960s-era building was a classic example of Hong Kong’s postwar tong lau tenements, known for their minimalist Streamline Moderne architecture, and it occupied a prime spot on the waterfront of fast-gentrifying Kennedy Town. But Allan, who […]

Posted in: Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Interior Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on The Tortuous Path to Preservation , , , , , ,

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 […]

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 […]

Private Paradise

There was a time when Hong Kong was full of strange and wonderful private gardens. There was a Spanish-style garden built by a Catholic missionary on Seymour Road. In Tai Hang, the seven-storey pagoda of Tiger Balm Garden could be seen for miles around. When Sir Robert Hotung built a second house on the Peak, […]

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 […]

This Year in Havana

If there’s any time to visit Havana, it’s now. After a half century preserved in the formaldehyde of American sanctions and a state-controlled economy, the Cuban capital is set for a remarkable transformation. Private property was legalized last November and the government has offered construction subsidies, which could spell the end for Havana’s long era […]

Posted in: Heritage and Preservation, Latin America by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on This Year in Havana , , , ,

Neon’s Slow Exit from Hong Kong

Yue Hwa in 2005. Photo by choco_late The Yue Hwa Chinese Products department store has stood at the corner of Jordan and Nathan roads for decades — and for decades, so did its big neon sign, a sentinel that marked the passage north into the seedy streets of Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok. Sometime […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Neon’s Slow Exit from Hong Kong , , , , ,

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 […]

Portraits of a Changing Paris

Boulevard Exelmans at Rue Chanez, XVIe Arrondisement, 1905-2008 Contemporary photos by Laurent David Ruamps Chat up a critic of historic preservation and the conversation may turn, sooner or later, toward Paris. What the French capital’s historic center has retained in fin-de-siècle flourish, s/he might claim, it lacks in the dynamism that fuels the growth of […]

Posted in: Architecture, Europe, History by Christopher Szabla 2 Comments , , ,

Modernism Debauched

Villa Besnus in 1922 and 2010. Photo compilation by Laurent David Ruamps In 1922, Le Corbusier was hired by a man named George Besnus to build a new house in the Paris suburb of Vaucresson. It was the architect’s first chance to put the Purist ideals he had been toying with to practice: an architecture […]

The Cheonggyecheon Experience

What amazed me most about Cheonggyecheon was its freedom. Here was a stream running through the middle of Seoul, one of the world’s largest cities, and it gurgled as contentedly as any country creek. You can walk next to the water, sit next to it, wade in and feel its sharp chill on your calves. […]