Restorers achieve a Mid-Levels Renaissance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 September, 2010, 12:00am

Just one more month and the Mid-Levels mansion King Yin Lei will be restored to its former glory.

Repairs to the Chinese Renaissance-style mansion at 45 Stubbs Road are now in the final stage and restorers are fine-tuning the interior furnishings, Professor Tang Guohua, of the school of architecture and urban planning at Guangzhou University, said.

'We are inspecting the works and everything will be completed in October,' Tang said.

While repairs to the bronze railing on the stairs and the timber floor were continuing, the red bricks, terrazzo decorative features and ceiling moulding have already been reproduced or fixed, and mosaic and cement tiles have been laid.

Work on the mansion's signature two-tone green roof is complete. Efforts were made to reproduce the lighter green tiles used in 1937 when it was built, and the deeper green tiles for the new wings added in the 1970s.

A contractor hired to deface the mansion is still holding some 100 items removed from the mansion, including wooden doors and window frames, in the hope of selling them. But as the government said no public money would be used to buy them back, the restorers have made replicas.

The Development Bureau said it would soon decide on the most suitable use for King Yin Lei: 'One of the important principles is to provide free public access.'

It has been three years since the mansion was defaced by its unidentified former owner, who sought to demolish it for redevelopment. The attempt initially escaped the government's attention but a halt to the work was finally called after media coverage, and officials provisionally declared the mansion a monument.

Monument status was confirmed in 2008, and the owner agreed to surrender the site in exchange for one on the slope next to it. The owner paid HK$57.99 million for the new site to build five three-storey houses.