I have earlier introduced a number of projects under the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme) of the Development Bureau (DEVB) to explain how historic buildings are redefined through preservation and revitalisation. This time, I am taking you on a tour of the revitalisation project of the Former North Kowloon Magistracy - the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Hong Kong, to see how a solemn court building has been transformed into a dynamic art and design college. I have also invited its students to share with us on the behind-the-scene brainstorming to come up with the creative concept for a DEVB’s promotion event from their recent participation.
Last year, the “Heritage Vogue．Hollywood Road” street carnival was well received by the public. It will return on 4 November (Sunday) for the public to experience the rich historical, cultural and artistic ambience around Hollywood Road. This year, the Commissioner for Heritage’s Office (CHO) has collaborated with SCAD Hong Kong and invited student teams of mixed nationalities, cultural and artistic backgrounds to join a competition to create a brand new design package for the promotion of the event. The design competition has finally come to a close, and the team featuring the design concept of “Nostalgia” has won.
Students taking part in the design
A representative of the winning team, Ms Mynah Bhattacharyya from India, said that she was excited to have the opportunity to participate in this competition and glad that she could work with local students, who were more familiar with Hong Kong’s situation and could provide a different perspective to deepen her understanding of Hong Kong resulting in more creative juices. The team has added many time-honoured elements, such as Chinese billiards, watermelon balls and Green Spot Orange Soda, into its design. These fall into the precious shared childhood memories that Hong Kong people treasure, which bring a sense of closeness. As for an illustration on the children interacting with the historic buildings such as Tai Kwun, she stressed the idea of the future generation protecting Hong Kong’s heritage was very important.
The collaboration between the CHO and SCAD Hong Kong has amply demonstrated the spirit of partnership underlying the Revitalisation Scheme. The chosen design will be featured in the printed promotional materials such as advertisements, posters and pamphlets for the “Heritage Vogue · Hollywood Road” street carnival. Last year, more than 56 000 visitors joined this meaningful and fun-filled street carnival. This year I hope the public will continue to show us support as well as encouragement and feel the boundless creativity and efforts of these young people behind this event.
As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the CHO, I hope that through the event, the public can better understand the fruits of our work in heritage conservation over the past decade. Since the launch of the Revitalisation Scheme, nine projects have already come into operation, with five of them having received the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, including this project of SCAD Hong Kong transformed from the Former North Kowloon Magistracy.
Preserving the original features
Constructed in 1960, the Former North Kowloon Magistracy was of seven storeys with its main elevation facing Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po. It housed four Magistrates’ courts and a Juvenile Court, and was a representative example of civic buildings of the period. After closing down in early 2005, it became one of the projects under Batch I of the Revitalisation Scheme in 2008 and started operation in 2010. Revitalisation has preserved many of the original architectural elements of the building, including the bronze-studded panel doors, and the natural granite staircases in the concourse with Grecian-motif balustrades on the banisters, etc.
The Executive Director of Design and Operations of SCAD Hong Kong, Mr. Bernardo Coronado-Guerra, and the Associate Chair of Communication Arts of SCAD Hong Kong, Prof. Gianluca Cinquepalmi showed me around the building. While the detention cells on the upper ground floor have been converted into offices and a lounge area, the original iron gates and layout of the cells have been preserved. I was particularly interested in the lecture theatre, which is formerly Courtroom No. 1. Apart from the magistrate bench and the public sitting area, the public can also spot the prisoner’s dock and the original bronze signage on their visit. As the lecture theatre is in a setting of high ceiling, the school has specially placed some pop-up large-scale artwork installation to add a touch of art flanking the originally rigid and solemn place.
Creating an artistic ambience
Walking in the campus, you will find various paintings in every corner. Artworks, large and small, can be found everywhere from corridor walls, ceilings to the patio. It is really a feast for the eyes. According to Bernardo, some of the works came from the students and alumni, and some were tailor-made for the Hong Kong campus.
SCAD Hong Kong offers 21 undergraduate and graduate programmes in 14 disciplines including animation, advertising, fashion, interior design, photography, visual effects and sequential art, etc., with diverse and professional programmes available. As at September 2018, half of the students are from Hong Kong and the other half are overseas students. I truly believe that cooperation and exchange between students from different places or diverse backgrounds will help widen their perspectives and broaden their horizons.
Over 350 000 visitors
As at the end of August this year, the school has received more than 350 000 visitors. Free guided tours are available to the public every Monday to Friday and the third Saturday of each month, with two tours per day. The tour covers visits to Courtroom No. 1, the detention cell and the library, etc. Members of the public who are interested can browse through the SCAD Hong Kong website for information and make online registration in advance.
To enhance heritage conservation, we will continue to incorporate suitable government-owned historic buildings into the Revitalisation Scheme. I am convinced that the past successful exemplars will foster the community to continue to support our work in this area. I hope that I will have the opportunity to take you to visit more revitalised historic buildings in future to explore a different Hong Kong.
9 September, 2018Back