Oct 23, 2018

Hong Kong’s historical buildings and conservation efforts


Hong Kong’s colonial past has resulted in some incredible works of architecture. The city has seen thousands of buildings with a mix of Chinese and Foreign influence, resulting in unique looking buildings.


While preservation is viewed as important now, the post-Chinese civil war period from the 1950s to the 1970s, was a time of turmoil and no importance was given to preservation.

A stream of refugees from the mainland migrated to Hong Kong in hopes of a new life. The economy wasn’t at its steadiest at this point, and the government therefore chose not to prioritize care for the ageing historical buildings. The priority was housing, food, jobs and managing the rapidly growing population, many of which was of a young, working age.


The government garnered criticism for not making an effort to conserve the historically significant buildings.  Since then, they've classified historic buildings into three Grades in order to promote preservation. We take a look at a few historically significant buildings based on Grade.


Grade I:Grade I historic buildings are defined as those of outstanding merit where every effort must be made to preserve them. 


Grade II:Grade II historic buildings fall under ‘special merit’. Efforts are placed to selectively preserve buildings.


Grade III:Grade III historic buildings are considered to have some merit, but not qualified as monuments. They’re maintained as a pool for future selection.



Here are 5 major buildings from the three grades that you may be familiar with:


Grade I:

Blue House

Blue House - Wan Chai

Red Brick House The Engineer Office of the Former Pumping Station

Red Brick House, The Engineer’s Office of the Former Pumping Station – 

Yau Ma Tei, Shanghai Street

Kowloon West II Battery of Whitefield Barracks - Kowloon Park, Tsim Sha Tsui

Lin Fa Temple - Lin Fa Kung Street West, Tai Hing

Tin Hau Temple - Chek Lap Kok New Village, Lantau Island


Grade II:

Ex-Commodore's House - Bowen Road, Central

Holy Trinity Cathedral - Ma Tau Chung Road, Kowloon City


Maclntosh Fort

MacIntosh Fort - Kong Shan, Sha Tau Kok

Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Embarkment - Pok Fu Lam

Green House - Mallory Street, Wan Chai


Grade III:

Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre - Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon


Yau Ma Tei Whoelsale Fruit Market

Yau Ma Tei Wholesale Fruit Market - Yau Ma Tei

Lai Mansion - Pat Heung

Matilda and War Memorial Hospital - Mount Kellet Road, The Peak

London Mission Building - Robinson Road, Mid-levels


Preservation efforts:

The Development Bureau has been leading the way in terms of the preservation of Hong Kong’s historic and heritage buildings. Believing in conserving historic buildings through appropriate and sustainable means, the Bureau put out a statement saying that development and conservation are not opposing forces.


They began a revitalization scheme with the objective of putting historical buildings to innovative use and transforming them into unique cultural landmarks.


A great example of this is the Central Police Compound project that began in 2007 from the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), with the objective of developing it into a cultural landmark, now known as the Tai Kwun complex.


Since then, Tai Kwun has become a major site for delicious bars & restaurants, boutique shops, art and lifestyle activities and quickly becoming a major tourist attraction. The staggering transformation proved just how good a job can be done when restoring and preserving historical sites.



The government has long been criticized about not caring enough about preservation. It’s true that with the rapid change in Hong Kong, greed and wealth have often taken priority. However, there’s no denying that efforts for preservation have been growing and the demand from the public is evident as well.


Here’s hoping the government continues to refurbish and utilize historical sites in the best possible way!


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