Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hong Kong Quick Posts II - Tai O Police Station Development



Public access to historic buildings is a tricky subject in Hong Kong – just about every building, old or new, office or mall, has legions of officious men in dark suits with weird hearing aid things who’s main aim is to discourage anyone from entering anywhere or daring to sit for two minutes – who knows who they’re listening to?


The former Tai O Police Station, a rather striking white building on the western side of Lantau Island, is to be converted into a boutique hotel. The building has a number of rooms and several cells capable of being used – it also has two interesting features – white watch towers, though so far the developer has said these are dangerous and off-limits (surely they should make them safe and accessible as part of their refurbishment?). Still, in general, thank God for boutique hotels – that are saving many an old building from the likes of the big hotel chains who prefer to bulldoze and build identical skyscrapers with identical rooms, identical restaurants, identical lobbys and identical room service menus!


The site is controlled by a foundation (the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation), an NGO established by developer Sino Land (start worrying here!) who are revamping the site. However, locals and preservationists fear access will be strictly limited. The Foundation has said that entry to see the interesting interior architecture will only be allowed to non-guests on official tours. One local told the South China Morning Post – ‘Please don’t turn it into a private villa for the rich. It won’t cost them much to rent the whole hotel.’ Local Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan is also arguing for greater public access to appreciate the building and points out that the developer originally declared their intention to allow the public to appreciate Hong Kong’s heritage when they got the contract. But then we’ve heard developers in Hong Kong promise public areas, preservation and greenery a thousand times before and look what Hong Kong’s got!


We await further developments


Hong Kong Quick Post I - Central Police Stations and the Magistracy

Hong Kong Quick Post III - Gaslight in Hong Kong

7 comments:

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