The Green Hub
In recent years, the Government has been proactively incorporating into the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme) suitable government-owned historic buildings for adaptive re-use, of which the Green Hub (the Old Tai Po Police Station) earlier received Honourable Mention in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. It is undoubtedly a great encouragement to the Hong Kong community and our stakeholders in heritage conservation. It also demonstrates the significant achievements of the partnership between the Government and non-profit-making organisations in revitalising government-owned historic buildings. Conservation and development is a highly controversial issue in the community, as land resources are precious in Hong Kong and it is not easy to strike the right balance. However, we will continue with our work earnestly and draw on collective wisdom to explore the suitable way to select, protect, preserve and revitalise precious historic and cultural heritage in Hong Kong.
Earlier on, I was invited to attend the awards presentation ceremony and visited the Green Hub again. It is definitely an oasis in the midst of the “concrete forest” for cleansing your mind if you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The Green Hub, formerly the Old Tai Po Police Station, is a Grade 1 historic building built in 1899. It was the first police station and police headquarters in the New Territories. Under Batch II of the Revitalisation Scheme of the Development Bureau (DEVB), the police station was revitalised by the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in 2015 into the Green Hub to promote the idea of sustainable living.
Distinctive architectural features to promote low-carbon lifestyle
Comprising the Main Building, the Staff Quarters Block, the Canteen Block and a lawn, the Green Hub is an ecological landmark in a highly urbanised environment. These one-storey buildings of the police station are in the Utilitarian style. The Main Building is of the colonial architectural style featuring verandahs, red brick walls and chimneys. Chinese elements such as the Chinese pitched roofs can also be seen. The guard post, flagpole and cannon rests outside the buildings all have their own special features, while the Old and Valuable Trees within the boundaries of the police station are also of conservation value, particularly the Tai Po Market Egretry in the north of the site which is a habitat for egrets and herons.
Praised for maintaining the ecosystem and showcasing cultural and historical heritage
There are many internationally renowned historic buildings in Hong Kong at present. The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation was established in 2000 to recognise and encourage private efforts and public-private initiatives in successfully restoring and conserving historic buildings in the region. Since its launch, a total of 17 projects in Hong Kong have been awarded, of which four are the historic buildings under the Revitalisation Scheme. They are the Savannah College of Art and Design (Hong Kong), the Tai O Heritage Hotel, the YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel, and the Green Hub that has just received the award. The awards won by these projects not only demonstrate the success of the Revitalisation Scheme and the international recognition it earns, but also encourage us to redouble our efforts to revitalise more historic buildings.
Standing out from 40 projects from different countries and places, the Green Hub was described by the UNESCO Heritage Awards as “the transformation of the Old Tai Po Police Station from a deserted relic into a vibrant venue for learning about sustainable development is notable for revealing layers of cultural history embedded in its buildings while maintaining the site’s distinctive ecosystem. Instilling new life into the oldest colonial property in the New Territories, the centre provides an oasis in the midst of Hong Kong’s highly urbanised environment.”
Applications open for Batch V of the Revitalisation Scheme
Furthermore, the DEVB has recently held a workshop on Batch V of the Revitalisation Scheme to brief on the procedures and important information regarding applications for revitalising the five historic buildings. It received overwhelming response with participants from some 75 institutions. The scheme has been open for applications since November 2016, and four of the projects, namely Roberts Block, Old Victoria Barracks in Central; Luen Wo Market in Fanling; the Former Lau Fau Shan Police Station in Yuen Long; and Watervale House, Former Gordon Hard Camp in Tuen Mun, will be closed for applications at noon on 23 March. Applications for the newly added project, Fong Yuen Study Hall in Ma Wan, will be closed at noon on 5 May and an open day be held on 10 February.
The 17 award-winning projects of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation are as follows:
1. Hung Shing Temple, Outstanding Project Award, 2000*
*Renamed Award of Merit since 2001
15 January, 2017