HK Magazine Archive

Guide to Hong Kong: Industrial Revolution

A series of stories, recommendations and tips on Hong Kong from people in the know. Explore our city based on the travel experiences that interest you and get itineraries for off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 February, 2016, 3:24pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:56pm

Although Hong Kong is now primarily a service-based economy, it was once one of the foremost manufacturing hubs of Asia and without the city’s incredible industrial development which began in the late 1950s, 21st century Hong Kong would look very different today. You can still see evidence of the city’s industrial past in its outer districts as a new generation of artistic talent finds inspiration in Hong Kong’s industrial past.

Creative Industries

A living example of the city’s industrial heritage can be found in Chai Wan, on the east of Hong Kong Island. Industrial buildings that shot up along the rapidly expanding waterfront in the mid-70s are now home to an interesting collection of galleries, exhibition spaces, workshops and art collaborations. Stop by YY9 Gallery for work by emerging and renowned local artists, or Vertical Art Space, a funky exhibition of art that occupies 10 floors of a stairwell.

Artistic Makeovers

Behind Aberdeen marina in the Southern District, Wong Chuk Hang is also undergoing a makeover. Spacious warehouse buildings that were once factories are now inhabited by up-and-coming artists, design studios and exhibition spaces. Guide yourself through an artistic tour of the neighborhood, popping in and out of these old factories; ride a large cargo lift to a nondescript floor and you’ll emerge into a high-ceilinged, reimagined creative space.

Transforming Futures

These areas of Hong Kong may have come from humble beginnings, but they have been constantly undergoing transformation since the 1950s. Through an industrial revolution and creative evolution, these unique, mosaicked corners of the city bear witness to Hong Kong’s socio-economic past, present and future.

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Spotlight on: Kwai Tsing

From a buzzing post-war industrial town, Kwai Tsing is adopting a more creative, laidback lifestyle that can offer the visitor a fascinating break from the city. The industrial buildings that once housed textiles and electronics factories have been repurposed as offices, workshops, artist studios, coffee shops and concept stores, with a new and vibrant creative energy to be found.

Old Meets New
One example of this is Here Workshop, where you’ll find the traditional handicraft of woodworking in sync with a young, creative spirit, with the result a range of unique gifts such as beautifully carved, customized wooden cutlery. Meanwhile, Sparkolada DIY Projects is another unusual concept hidden inside an old industrial building. The studio runs regular workshops teaching you how to transform fresh-cut flowers into a preserved arrangement. Nearby is Nudite Fashion, which sells accessories designed and handmade in Hong Kong.

Coffee and Culture
Neighborhood favorite Soulmate Coffee is worth a stop on your shopping route. This independent coffee bar incorporates unique flavors such as crème brulée or rose into your standard cappuccino. For something more substantial that will also satisfy your cultural appetite head to The Alchemist Café Bistro—a creative space set up with the traveler in mind: it’s well stocked with travel books you’re free to sit and read over a platter of antipasti, or you can take part in one of the regular travel-sharing sessions and music shows.

Wide Open Space
As well as these new creative industries popping up around the district, Kwai Tsing has also been remodeling much of its land into green, open spaces that offer a breath of fresh air. Tsing Yi Park is a former hillside cemetery now dotted with pebbled walking trails, scenic lakes and waterfalls and maple trees. Just a short walk away is Tsing Yi Promenade, a 2km-long walkway that offers great views of the Rambler Channel. It’s an idyllic spot for Hongkongers, who you’ll often see practicing Tai Chi here or fishing.

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