HQ's west wing 'should be saved'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 May, 2012, 12:00am


The west wing of the former government headquarters in Central could be saved from demolition after antiquities experts agreed the entire complex should be given the highest heritage rating short of monument status.

The wing, one of three components of the building, is set to be replaced with a commercial tower.

But members of an expert panel of the Antiquities Advisory Board have agreed the whole complex should be have a grade-one historic rating. A panel member said: 'A beauty is a beauty even though not every part of her body is perfect.'

Their recommendation will be handed to the monuments office this month. The rating would need the board's endorsement next month.

Grade-one buildings can still be demolished, unless they are declared monuments by the Antiquities Authority.

Designers and activists are now urging the government to scrap its plan to demolish the west wing.

Katty Law Ngar-ning, a spokeswoman for the Government Hill Concern Group, called for it to be declared a monument. She said the group hoped all of Government Hill, which includes St John's Cathedral and the former French Mission building that houses the Court of Final Appeal, would be declared a conservation area.

The government considers the west wing has less historical and architectural merit than the main and east wings. But the panel member, who did not want to be named, said all three were indispensable.

'They share the same historic and social background, designed by the same architect.'

Antiquities Advisory Board chairman Bernard Chan asked the panel to consider the complex as a whole last November - the first time this had been done - after the government announced the redevelopment.

Vincent Ng Wing-shun, vice-president of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design, urged the board and the government to respect the experts' recommendation and keep the ownership of the site. 'We are not insisting on keeping the whole west wing untouched,' he said. 'The interior could be modified for better use.'

The three buildings in the functionalist style were built in three stages, with the east wing completed in 1954, the main wing in 1956 and the west wing in 1959.

A Development Bureau spokeswoman said the panel was studying public views and its recommendation would be submitted to the board for further consideration.