International heritage awards for century-old buildings

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2005, 12:00am

Two century-old private buildings in Hong Kong have won international heritage awards.

St Joseph's Chapel in Yim Tin Tsai, Sai Kung, and Tung Wah Coffin Home in Sandy Bay, Pokfulam, gained awards of merit at this year's Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Awards announced earlier this month.

At the first open meeting in its 29 years of history yesterday, the Antiquities Advisory Board was told of the news by the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO).

Tung Wah Coffin Home, built in 1899, earlier won the award of honours at the Hong Kong Heritage Awards. The complex includes a range of building traditions spanning from vernacular Chinese architecture to modern buildings.

The Unesco jury praised Tung Wah Group of Hospitals for 'preserving a unique building typology and an important cultural institution which reflects the evolving social history of Hong Kong'.

On St Joseph's Chapel, built in 1890, the jury praised the project for 'demonstrating the success of a community initiative that has garnered the support of multiple stakeholders amongst the local residents and the Hong Kong Catholic community'.

Refurbished at a cost of $1.4 million, painted tones of gentle yellow, beige and white, and with refreshed coloured panes in its windows, the church is a memorable sight for Yim Tin Tsai villagers and visitors.

Louis Ng Chi-wa, executive secretary of the AMO, said the awards showed the government did not have a monopoly on conservation. There were many buildings in Hong Kong worth preserving.

'Conservation works on many buildings which may not have the profile of those with landmark significance such as the Central Police Station could be done better if the community took a greater interest,' Dr Ng said.

Board members were also briefed on a project to convert the old Ping Shan police station in Yuen Long into a heritage centre.

A Grade III historic building situated on a hilltop near Ping Ha Road, the complex was one of the 14 police stations built after the New Territories were leased in 1898.

After the police vacated the site in 2001, the authorities and the local Tang clan agreed that the police station would be converted into a heritage centre displaying artefacts from the Tang clan's culture and history.

Conversion work started in February and will be completed early next year ahead of the centre's opening in October 2006.


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