Cultural areas proposed to stop squabbling over heritage sites

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2007, 12:00am

The government has been urged to create cultural areas rather than continue debating whether to demolish or preserve individual buildings.

A policy paper published yesterday by the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, a think-tank closely associated with the administration, said Hong Kong had been polarised between cultural preservation and economic development.

The centre recommends the use of a 'district planning principle' that would create cultural areas, encouraging both the appreciation and production of the arts.

Chan Wai-kwan, a senior director of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce who co-convened the study group for the paper, said districts with cultural areas should be 'experienced and enjoyed,' rather than sterilised by turning buildings into antiques.

The paper proposes forming 'creative clusters' such as in the Central and SoHo areas.

'The Central police station compound, for instance, can be preserved and developed in connection with the neighbouring cultural venues [such as the Fringe Club] and the leisure district of Lan Kwai Fong, as well as the cultural market and antique shops alongside Hollywood Road,' the paper said.

'Creative clusters' can also mean areas where production of the arts is concentrated, like the Dashanzi 798 arts district in Beijing. Obsolete industrial areas such as San Po Kong, Yau Tong, Kwai Chung and Fo Tan are suggested as possible areas suitable for such conversion.

'Creative clusters' can also be formed from new or redeveloped sites, the paper said, citing the revived West Kowloon Cultural District project.

'But continued and strong support from the government is essential in maintaining the attractiveness and vibrancy of these venues.'

Bernard Lim Wan-fung, a member of the Town Planning Board and Antiquities Advisory Board, hailed the recommendations. 'The current conservation policy in Hong Kong is too monotonous. The policy only concerns the preservation of individual buildings,' he said.

Professor Lim, of Chinese University's department of architecture, cited Western Market in Sheung Wan as an example. 'It has been preserved but it is now very isolated. All the old surroundings were removed. The building is there but it is cut off from the neighbourhood. The soul is not there anymore.'

Past, present and future

The main cultural features of the proposed creative cluster in Wan Chai

Streets with local characteristics

Gresson St (dry products market street)

Lee Tung St (Wedding Card Street)

Spring Garden Lane (dry products market street)

Tai Yuen St Cross St (wet market street)

Wan Chai Rd (wet market street)

Buildings with historic/heritage value

No 18 Ship St (Grade II)

Nam Koo Terrace (I)

Hung Shing Temple (I)

186, 188, 190 Queen's Rd East (II)

64 Kennedy Rd (III)

Old Wan Chai Post Office (declared monument)

Wan Chai Market (III)

72, 72A, 74, 74A Stone Nullah Lane (I)

2, 4, 6, 8 Hing Wan St (II)

Yuk Hui Temple (I)

Wan Chai police station (III)

6, 8, 10, 12 Burrows St (II)

1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 Mallory St (II)

Sikh Temple (III)

Source: Bauhinia Foundation