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One day my son, all of this will be yours.

This isn’t an article about Monty Python and the Holy Grail unfortunately; but about buildings and architecture in Hong Kong.

So you understand my context here – this is a very brief history of me.

I grew up in Bath in England – an old Roman town where every building must adhere to planning control to ensure that the vernacular of the buildings is maintained and the use of one particular limestone is on every build – new or refurbished.

Now in the 60’s and 70’s parts of the town saw this planning regulation stretched a little further than was strictly necessary (down town shopping areas specifically) and thankfully in the last decade these buildings have been removed and more sympathic ones put in their place.

We also have listed buildings in the UK, so that old and culturally/historically significant buildings or parts of buildings are maintained for future generations.

Hong Kong doesn’t either suffer or benefit from one cohesive pattern for Architecture or Town Planning and so we have a sprawling city across massively diverse geography that has developed over a few hundred years and constantly looks to reinvent itself by using the term ‘Urban Regeneration’ – which means ripping down old significant buildings and replacing them with taller new buildings that give better returns per square foot.

Thankfully, Hong Kong remains a fairly large land mass for the 7 million inhabitants and so the Kowloon side, away from the business districts retain many of the quirky and classically Hong Kong style buildings.

Are they well made? Will they last the test of time? Perhaps not that relevant a set of questions when you are looking at retaining an identity to your culture and one that could be addressed by a rich Government who could list buildings and use this mechanism to protect and fund the past for our childrens’ future.

These buildings below are fairly typical shapes – built to fit their geography when they were built and they are now below one of the 8 lane highways that run from the NT to TST.

Unless the Government steps in and starts to look at cultural and community as important and not just profit and loss – then these and many others like them will not be around in a decade.

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Posted by simon on November 23, 2011

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