Study Buddy (Challenger): Hong Kong’s new recycling centre in Wan Chai is as beautiful as it is eco-friendly

  • Study Buddy Challenger is for students who want to take their understanding to the next level with more difficult vocabulary and questions that will test their inference skills
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
YP |

Latest Articles

Kongkee visual artist adds local colour to sci-fi representation of Hong Kong

The Lens: Netflix password crackdown expands to more than 100 countries

Identify and break free of thinking traps with tips from a Hong Kong educator

Open day and night, the courtyard at [email protected] CHAI is designed to be a welcoming space. Photo: Courtesy of ArchSD

Content provided by British Council

Read the following text, and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] When BREADstudio co-founder Benny Lee Chiu-ming adopted a cat in 2016 from the Wan Chai branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), little did he realise that the process of taking his new pet home would inspire an award-winning project, the new [email protected] CHAI recycling centre.

[2] In 2018, together with the studio’s other co-founder, Paul Mui Kui-chuen, and colleagues, Lee came up with the winning entry in a design competition for the site, opposite the SPCA’s headquarters. One highlight of the venue located near the Wan Chai promenade on Hong Kong Island is a generous courtyard for all to use – four-legged friends included.

[3] Within the building’s horseshoe-shaped embrace, an expansive outdoor area is furnished with a curved bench and greenery. “We turned everything inside out,” said Mui, explaining that they created an urban park by placing the building at the back of the plot and maximising its open side, to Wan Shing Street. The clever design made it unlikely a gate of that width would be installed to close the site. “That was kind of our hidden agenda,” he added. “People can come any time day or night.”

The new recycling centre in Wan Chai is designed in the shape of a horseshoe. Photo: Courtesy of ArchSD

[4] [email protected] CHAI is the only one of the 11 recycling depots unveiled so far by the Environmental Protection Department that has resulted from a collaboration between the Architectural Services Department and external architects. Like others in the network, it seeks to be more than simply a dumping site for everything from small electrical appliances to fluorescent tubes and plastic. Areas for educational and community activities are incorporated into its design to remind the public of their responsibility as consumers.

[5] Half of the structure accommodates operations (sorting, compacting, etc), while the other side is spacious enough for administrative work and indoor meetings. BREAD incorporated other practical choices, enabling the HK$29 million project to be completed under budget. Its layout simplified construction and made components (for example, frames and walls, pre­fabricated off site and assembled in situ) easy to transport.

[6] Elsewhere, savings were realised in the materials used. They include recycled chipboard for interior walls and glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) to build the trellis, which gives a five-star aesthetic to the exterior. (A friend, on seeing a photo, asked which hotel I’d visited.) Textured with recycled wood, the GRP slats were as attractive as real timber and not prone to warping or fading, Lee said. “These are low maintenance and have a low carbon footprint,” he added.

[7] The pair also hope their design will result in less extensive use of air conditioners, a significant contributor to global warming. Greenery on the roof should help bring temperatures down, but they acknowledge that, even with the help of ceiling fans and ventilation slits, the rooms in summer will need to be artificially cooled. (The five rooftop solar panels are insufficient to fully power the building.) Still, shoots of optimism from the project are inevitable. Here, the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – strive to roll off the tongue.
Source: South China Morning Post, January 13


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. Find a word or phrase in paragraph 1 that means “Lee did not think that something would happen”.

2. What does the “hidden agenda” of the site design in paragraph 3 refer to?
A. allowing access to the plot at all hours
B. cleverly allowing for the construction of a gate
C. directly linking the site to the Wan Chai promenade
D. creating an enclosed space for newly adopted pets and their owners

3. Based on paragraph 4, what distinguishes the Wan Chai recycling centre from the other 10 around the city?

4. What has been added to [email protected] CHAI to encourage people in Hong Kong to recycle according to paragraph 4?

5. Which of the following was not designed as a cost-saving measure for the new recycling centre?
A. having elements that were not difficult to transport
B. constructing interior walls using recycled chipboard
C. adding a trellis to the structure’s exterior
D. using prefabricated materials

6. Why might the writer’s friend have been surprised that the photo mentioned in paragraph 6 was of a recycling centre?

7. List two aspects of [email protected] CHAI’s design mentioned in paragraphs 6 and 7 that make it an eco-friendly building. (2 marks)

8. Decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given in the text.
(i) The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has publicly stated its support for Benny Lee’s idea for the [email protected] CHAI recycling centre.
(ii) The recycling centre ended up using less than half of the budget it was allocated.
(iii) The architects of the project intentionally replaced some of the traditional materials used in construction with more eco-friendly substitutes.
(iv) [email protected] CHAI has been designed so the centre can run solely on solar power.

9. In which section of an architecture magazine might you find this article?
A. green retail shops
B. eco-friendly building materials
C. carbon-neutral facilities
D. sustainable design

The new recycling centre is right across from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Photo: Courtesy of ArchSD


1. little did he realise
2. A
3. The city’s Architectural Services Department collaborated with external architects/a private architecture firm to design it.
4. areas for educational and community activities
5. C
6. because the trellis in the photo looks so attractive that it made the friend think it was at a five-star hotel
7. The interior walls are made from recycled chipboard. / The trellis is made with glass-reinforced plastic which has a low carbon footprint. / The need for air conditioners is reduced because of cooling rooftop greenery, ceiling fans and ventilation slits. / The building has five rooftop solar panels to help power the building. (any 2)
8. (i) NG; (ii) NG; (iii) T; (iv) F
9. D

Sign up for the YP Teachers Newsletter
Get updates for teachers sent directly to your inbox
By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy