Prospects and Policies

for Hong Kong’s signboard streetscapes

香港招牌街景:其政策,衰退與前景研究

Ken Fung 馮達煒 / Kevin Mak 麥憬淮

作為香港獨特的城市視覺元素,招牌的發展理應在安全和可持續發展之間取得平衡。在研究招牌相關法例、政策歷史,及世界其他地區一些前瞻性政策後,我們探索如何在香港將招牌街道景觀確立為城市文化遺產,當中包括建議將商店招牌和廣告牌分別規管;將歷史,文化或藝術價值評估納入《招牌檢核計劃》,建立招牌保育評核系統,並設立基金資助保育具價值的招牌,讓招牌於講述建築和城市環境的歷史和文化方面發揮其不可或缺的角色。

Hong Kong’s streetscapes are known for their layers of signboards. Maintaining them requires a sustainable development plan that is balanced with safety needs.


Before signboards were included in the Buildings Ordinance in 2004 and then in the implementation of Minor Works Control Systems in 2010, they were unregulated. Even today, with their rich cultural, historical, design and aesthetic values, they are controlled by a regulation that only focuses on the technical aspects of their dimensions and structure. As a result, most signboards before 2010 are technically illegal, and many have had to be taken down. Therefore, Hong Kong’s iconic streetscapes are rapidly disappearing.


Having reviewed the history of signboard-related regulations and policies and examined various forward-thinking policies from other parts of the world, we hope to explore how signboard streetscapes can be recognised as part of Hong Kong’s important urban heritage and a building element, once overlooked by our profession, that could play an integral role in telling the history and culture of Hong Kong’s architectural and urban environment. Parts of our current regulation and conservation system could be improved to incorporate ideas allowing for the preservation of signboards. We hope the recommendations we make can prompt not only public discussion of this issue but also an overall policy review leading to amendments in regulations and guidelines in the design and construction industry that will allow for valuable existing signboards to be kept and exciting new ones to be put up.


Policy recommendations from the study we are preparing include the separation of control for shop-signs and advertisement boards, the inclusion of historical, cultural or artistic evaluation in a ‘Signboard Validation Scheme’ and the creation of an assessment system that will allow for the preservation of historic signboards and funding for the conservation of signboards deemed to have significant value.


In 2017, we set up a signboard heritage concern platform dedicated to signboard preservation works with a website at streetsign.hk, an Instagram account at @streetsignhk and the Twitter handle @streetsignhk.
In addition to research on building regulations, the group also promotes signboard preservation by telling signboard owners about the current control system, rescuing and archiving signboards, and educating the public through social media and exhibitions.

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


Tai Nan Street, photos taken in Dec 2015 vs Feb 2016 (Photo by Kevin Mak)