Symposium on Re-use for Future

論壇 – 未來的再利用

16 October  2021 

10:15am – 12:00pm

HKIA Premises

Edited by Dacy Chow and Mavis Lee

Moderator

Charles Lai 黎雋維 (CL)
PhD, Architectural Historian

Guest Speakers

Vincent Ng 吳永順 (VN)
Senior Director of AGC Design Ltd.

Wendy Ng 吳韻怡(WN)
Director of Revival Heritage Consultant

Bob Pang 彭展華(BP)
Director of AaaM Architects

Joshua Lam 林偉瀚(JL)
Architect of HOK

Scan this QR code for video recording for 2nd Symposium

本次論壇主要討論保育項目的未來發展路向, 以及作為建築師應有的角色。 未來建築物的「再利用亅的定位到底是什麼?公眾的參與如何影響未來的保育建築項目呢? 以及未來的社會政策能否更有效地保育建築? 這些議題都在此論壇中深入地探討。

The second symposium was held to discuss the future of Re-use. While the first symposium covered established projects such as Tai Kwun, The Mills and PMQ, this symposium discussed recent or ongoing cases like Central Market, the Bishop Hill Underground Cistern, State Theatre and various Brutalist buildings in Hong Kong. We cannot ignore the fact that a new generation of buildings in our city will become heritage in future. In contrast to colonial era architecture, these buildings embody the memories of Hong Kong’s industrial past and the era of rapid economic growth, also representing new challenges for architects in preservation and adaptive reuse of these soon-to-be heritage. 

The ‘Reuse for Future’ symposium investigated how the multi-disciplinary nature of heritage discourses. It focused in particular on how voices from the general public have impacted and shaped the design of conservation projects, replacing, to a certain extent, those of architects, the traditionally driver of such schemes. The symposium was held on Zoom and Facebook Live so as to allow members of the public to join the discussion and interact with the panellists through Q&A sessions. CL

Central Market has aroused wide public concern as to whether ‘reuse’ projects need to preserve their original typology and the extent to which conservation should blend the old and the new. There was widespread public agreement that the Central Market should not become yet another shopping mall, and that its five principal character-defining elements – its façade, grand stairs, market stalls, atrium and column grid – should be preserved and restored. The degree of conservation of these elements has been relatively high compared with other projects. However, in Hong Kong generally, conservation projects face countless challenges. Central Market, for example, experienced a long journey to its current form, with community workshops, a judicial review and the need to meet various sustainable building guidelines all having to be take care of. The government should try to establish a consensus on conservation policy so that it becomes clear whether a site or building should be preserved, and for all processes to be coordinated with the legal system. VN

Atrium of the re-opened Central Market

Central Market has aroused wide public concern as to whether ‘reuse’ projects need to preserve their original typology and the extent to which conservation should blend the old and the new. There was widespread public agreement that the Central Market should not become yet another shopping mall, and that its five principal character-defining elements – its façade, grand stairs, market stalls, atrium and column grid – should be preserved and restored. The degree of conservation of these elements has been relatively high compared with other projects. However, in Hong Kong generally, conservation projects face countless challenges. Central Market, for example, experienced a long journey to its current form, with community workshops, a judicial review and the need to meet various sustainable building guidelines all having to be take care of. The government should try to establish a consensus on conservation policy so that it becomes clear whether a site or building should be preserved, and for all processes to be coordinated with the legal system. VN

The need for systematic approach and framework for handling heritage sites became even clearer following the discovery of the century-old underground reservoir at Bishop Hill. That not only identified the various opportunities and threats conservation projects pose, but also showed how heritage needs to be analysed in a more thoughtful way. How should we facilitate public discussion and conservation? How should we assess heritage? The existing framework to grade a heritage site, guided by the Antiques and Monuments Office (AMO), has six major categories: rarity, historical interest, architectural merit, group value, local interest and authenticity. It could be improved by being made more systematic and so allowing for a thorough consideration by both professionals and the public. The value-assessment matrix framework, developed by academics in the Netherlands, is another approach that could be used to investigate the tangible and intangible values of heritage sites. It can be used with story curation for sites and to help with the timely preservation of intangible values. JL

A group of researchers have started to record Hong Kong’s remaining brutalist structures with the hope of bringing to light the social and historical value of these buildings. The features of brutalist architecture include rough surfaces, massive forms, unusual shapes and the expression of structure. The Brutalist Architecture Data Base records thousands of such buildings. The SOS Brutalism Exhibition held in Taiwan in 2020 also publicised the merits of such buildings. The ‘BRUTAL! – Unknown Brutalism Architecture in Hong Kong’ exhibition held at openground in Sham Shui Po also tried to elaborate the importance of brutalist architecture through the 15 projects in Hong Kong it featured. The buildings were categorised by their form, material and structure. To conserve an architecture in the future, further historical research and exhibitions could be conducted using a timeline of architectural styles. Reuse for the future thus could also uncover the untold history of Hong Kong, reflecting the values of honesty and simplicity that the city has deeply valued over time.  BP

Right: proposed heritage value assessment framework and
left: character defining elements of the Bishop Hill Underground Cistern(Joshua Lam)

Drawings from BRUTAL! – Unknown Brutalism Architecture in Hong Kong exhibition. Clockwise from top left: a) Chinese Methodist Church North Point; b) St Alfred’s Chruch; c) Wu Chung Library, CUHK; d) Pooi Tun Secondary School; e) New Asia College Gymnasium, CUHK; f) Smiley Court. (drawn by Alison Chan)

When we look at the past, many conservation projects led by the government have ended up as museums, such as the Flagstaff House, Pathological Institute and Kom Tong Hall. In the private sector, conservation projects have often resulted in art and cultural architecture, such as at the Fringe Club and PMQ. PMQ is a successful conservation project with its art studios in what were formerly living spaces effectively and attractive atrium space, host to many various exhibitions. Many other successful conservation projects have similarly featured open space for the public to gather in. In terms of ‘reuse for future’, we should rethink how to deal with old and new elements. The public should always be involved in re-evaluating how and what should be preserved in all heritage schemes.  WN

Conservation projects must always undergo a long journey of public consultation. Architects always need to respond to different stakeholders’ views about their projects. As for the public, promoting knowledge on how conservation projects are conducted is crucially important. Once people understand the principles involved, their suggestions on how to preserve architecture are likely to become more concrete. Reuse for future is a process that leads to decisions on what to preserve from the past. Historic preservation is a practice of sustainability that should benefit communities and our environment in the future.  CL