Mansion restoration outstrips expectations
The restoration of King Yin Lei mansion - which opens to the public for the first time today - has exceeded expectations, according to the man in charge of the work.
Guangzhou University Professor Tang Guo-hua said more than 80 per cent of the mansion had been returned to its former glory.
When work began in 2008, with the building minus almost all its roof, floor, ceilings, beams and walkways, Tang promised that 80 per cent of the old building would be restored.
'It [restoration level] is even more than 80 per cent,' he said. 'These three years of endeavour enabled local craftsmen to re-master the traditional architectural techniques, many of which were almost dying out in Hong Kong. Fortune has come out of misfortune.'
Tang's team had to travel to Foshan and Fujian to source materials and craftsmen for the job.
The restoration team had to rely on marks left on site, old photographs and remnants to remake the items. Traditional materials and techniques were used to preserve as much of the mansion's architectural value as possible, Tang said.
'The large-scale renovation work at the King Yin Lei mansion is a landmark case in local heritage conservation,' said Laura Aron, Commissioner for Heritage.
All 20,000 tickets have been distributed for tomorrow's public viewing of the Chinese Renaissance-style building in Stubbs Road.
'We are encouraged by public enthusiasm for appreciating the historic site and will consider further arrangements for more open days,' Aron said.
Today's visitors will start their tour in the garden and then walk through the three-storey mansion. Details of the materials and techniques used in the restoration process will be illustrated by a short documentary and on exhibition boards.
Each visitor will be given a feedback form to express their opinions on the building's future use.
King Yin Lei was built in 1937 by a merchant, Shum Yat-chor.
Its third owner tried to demolish the mansion for redevelopment in 2007, but halted the work amid public outrage.
Government officials then declared the site a monument and the owner agreed to surrender it in exchange for land nearby.