Redevelopment means Wan Chai's dragons need new home

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 July, 2010, 12:00am

Government arts and heritage officials have been asked to help find a new home for a 16-metre-long, glazed-tile wall in Wan Chai - modelled on the Nine Dragons Wall near to Beijing's Forbidden City - which is being relocated because of redevelopment.

China Resources Property offered the wall - built for HK$2 million in 1983 - to the government as a gift, but officials said it could not be stored.

The wall, which stands on the ground floor of the China Resources Building, on Harbour Road, will have to be removed from the site in September to make way for rebuilding and refurbishment of the public park that stands in front of it.

It was created in a Beijing workshop, then shipped to Hong Kong when the company set up its base here 27 years ago, Daniel Kwan Pok-man, the company's deputy general manager, said.

'The company wanted a strong presence in Hong Kong as a reminder of its roots. The wall has become well known among Hong Kong people. Many people have come to have their photographs taken alongside it,' Kwan said.

The wall, which is four metres high, features glazed tiles depicting nine different coloured dragons flying in heaven. One end of the wall shows a scene at sunrise and the other end shows night time with moonlight shining over the sea.

The wall was modelled on the design and proportions of the original Nine Dragons Wall in Beihai Park, to the northwest of the Forbidden City, and created during the Qing Dynasty.

It was assembled with 4,700 glazed tiles made in a burning process under 1,300 degrees Celsius.

The company is refurbishing the existing office building to improve its efficiency and enhance the working environment and has obtained government approval to renovate the public park in front of the building. But the wall, which stands between the park and the tower, would block access and sunlight, Kwan said.

'We'd like to keep this wall and move it elsewhere, but we can't find a suitable place that is large enough. We actually want to give it to the government,' he said.

The company approached the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Development Bureau for help. 'Officials said they had no place to store it and that the wall was not old enough to be recognised as heritage.' Kwan said.

China Resources Property plans to carefully place the wall in storage until a new home is found.

A spokeswoman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said staff would be visiting the wall today before making any comment.

Yeung Chun-tong, director of the museum and art gallery at the University of Hong Kong, said he found the wall quite beautiful. 'It is difficult to make such a huge wall with glazed tiles. It would be a pity if it is broken up and thrown away,' he said.