Hidden Depth

Bathing sheds in Hong Kong

潛藏的深度:香港泳棚

Chris Ma Sin Cheung 馬善璋

香港泳棚的歷史可以追溯到18世紀,當時英國軍隊到達香港時,於中環建立了第一個主要為英軍和外國人使用的泳棚—維多利亞泳棚。從那時起,游泳文化逐漸融合到華人社會。1920年代,游泳更成為華人社會主要休閒活動。泳棚多數建於香港島的海岸線,例如北角和上環,靠近民居和電車站。因此,泳棚成為當時居民娛樂,休閒和聚會的重要場所。


維多利亞港的水質曾被長年忽視。從1970 年代起,迅速發展的香港工業和填海工程嚴重污染香港海域,令泳棚變得不合適居民使用,漸被城市遺忘。


由於大多數泳棚用輕質木材料建造,不能承受強風和季節性颱風。許多泳棚必須定期修理或重建,固此當時保養泳棚的成本非常高。

The history of bathing sheds in Hong Kong can be traced back to the 18th century when the British Army first arrived in Hong Kong. They established the first ever bathing shed – The Victoria Bathing Shed – in Central. Operated by The Victoria Club Hong Kong, the bathing shed was mainly for the British Army and foreigners. Swim culture was then slowly integrated into Chinese society and became an important recreational activity in the 1920s. Bathing sheds were mainly located along the shoreline of Hong Kong Island such as North Point and Sheung Wan, in close proximity to the residential areas and tram stations. Many of the sheds had a viewing platform facing the sea, making them ideal for hosting large scale events such as the Dragon Boat Festival. Some companies provided bathing sheds exclusively for their staff, which reflected the importance and popularity of bathing sheds at that time.

The idea of going to a bathing shed became less popular in the 1970s when the Victoria Harbour became more polluted due to industrial development and land reclamation. As most of the bathing sheds were constructed with lightweight materials such as timber frame and timber pitch roof, they could not withstand strong waves and seasonal typhoons. Many bathing sheds had to be repaired or rebuilt regularly, leading to a high maintenance cost.


The design of bathing sheds have evolved to suit particular functions and environments. Presented here are some drawings of the unique arrangement of bathing sheds in Hong Kong.

* This research is supported and funded by the HKIA CPD Research Fund.


Fig.1 Entrance & Function

Fig.2 Covered Area

Fig.3 Touching the Water

Fig.4 Platform into the water

Fig.5 Section A-A

Ah Kung Ngan Bathing Shed (Concrete Option) (Credit: Chris Ma Sin Cheung)