Recently in My Blog, I have introduced to you the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Heritage Centre, which is one of the projects under Batch IV of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme). This time, I would like to share with you another creative project – Revitalisation of the Old Dairy Farm Senior Staff Quarters (SSQ) into the Pokfulam Farm. I have invited the person in charge of the revitalisation project, Mr LAM Sair-ling, who is an architect and the Director of the Pokfulam Farm Company Ltd, to share with us details of the project.
Naming the project by using the ancient written form of the Chinese name of Pok Fu Lam
The SSQ, located at No. 141 Pok Fu Lam Road, was constructed in 1887 as residence for the Farm Manager of the Old Dairy Farm. The SSQ comprises the Main Building, the Servants’ Quarters and the Garage Block. The three buildings have been left vacant since 1987 and were accorded a Grade 1 status by the Antiquities Advisory Board in December 2009. In June 2015, Caritas-Hong Kong was the successful applicant selected to revitalise the SSQ. Putting much effort and thought into choosing the name, Caritas-Hong Kong specially name the project “The Pokfulam Farm” by using the ancient written form of the Chinese name of Pok Fu Lam so as to highlight its long history. Currently, the revitalisation works are making good progress and are expected to be completed in the middle of this year.
Origin of locally-produced milk
According to Mr LAM Sair-ling, Pok Fu Lam is the origin of locally-produced milk with a rich history of the industrial development of the local dairy industry, missionary work, Pok Fu Lam Village, etc. Back then, the farm established by the Dairy Farm Company Ltd. was extensive, occupying Pok Fu Lam Village and the sites of quite a number of existing large-scale housing developments such as Wah Fu Estate, Chi Fu Fa Yuen, Baguio Villa and Queen Mary Hospital. At present, the remaining main historic buildings on the farm include the SSQ (formerly known as Braemar), and the Main Office Building and Cowshed of the Old Dairy Farm which have been adaptively reused by the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
Presenting farm operations in the old days
Mr LAM Sair-ling says that the SSQ will be revitalised into a “museum”. The Main Building will display the history of the Old Dairy Farm to present farm operations in the old days, with related artefacts and utensils among the exhibits. The history and cultural characteristics of Pok Fu Lam Village and nearby areas will also be showcased. Besides, a new annex block will be constructed to house bakery and dairy workshops for participants to learn how to make, for example, cheese, so that they can experience traditional ways of food production as well as a modern sustainable life style. Also, a catering area will be provided in the annex block. An amphitheatre will be constructed at the outdoor area between the Main Building and the Servants’ Quarters for public outdoor activities to encourage interaction among visitors. He hopes that after revitalisation, the new farm will become a place with distinguished characteristics in Pok Fu Lam.
Bull’s eye windows for ventilation and damp prevention
Regarding the architectural features, the Main Building of the SSQ is a two-storey building. The lower storey has really thick granite block walls that act as a plinth to support this plain and simple classical architecture. There are circular bull’s eye windows on the walls of the lower storey. As Mr LAM Sair-ling says, the foreigners back then were not used to Hong Kong’s humid weather so they elevated the lower storey with bull’s eye windows on the walls for ventilation and damp prevention. The staircase to the entrance of the Main Building is characterised by a decorative keystone at its end and a keystone in its centre being the key to supporting the arch. The period fireplaces, classical architectural elements and timber floor slabs inside the building will all be preserved.
Restoring original architectural features
Mr LAM Sair-ling says, the Servants’ Quarters and the Garage Block are two single-storey buildings and their double-layered Chinese pan-and-roll tile roofs are one of the architectural features. The rough-granite exterior walls of the Garage Block and the red-brick Servants’ Quarters reflect the prevalence of rock factories in early Hong Kong and the architectural features during the colonial period. However, after more than a hundred years, some of the original architectural features had been revised, for example, the original pitched roof of the Main Building was changed to flat roof and its verandah (balcony) was enclosed. Hence, the current rehabilitation works will strive to restore them so that the public or visitors can appreciate the original architectural features of the project.
Works must meet current requirements under building laws
About the challenges to the rehabilitation works, Mr LAM Sair-ling says, the biggest difficulty of the revitalisation project is how to enable a building of more than a hundred years to meet current requirements under building laws. To comply with the Code of Practice for Fire Safety in Buildings and the requirements on barrier-free access, the project will provide a new access ramp to the first floor of the Main Building. There are two major advantages involved. The first is the cheaper cost in future maintenance as compared to that for an escalator, and the second is the panoramic seaview of the Southern District as seen from beside the ramp, which can turn into a lookout point in the future for visitors to appreciate the historic buildings and enjoy the beautiful scenery at the same time.
A specially designed heritage trail of significance
I know that for this revitalisation project, the team of Caritas-Hong Kong has collaborated with villagers in Pok Fu Lam Village to collect lots of information about the Old Dairy Farm, such as oral history records, relics and old files, so as to trace its history. The project is distinctive in the way that it will not only preserve a historic building, but will also run a series of guided tours to introduce and promote the SSQ together with the surrounding historic buildings, relics and the settlement culture through a specially designed heritage trail of significance. I believe that the general public will have a better understanding of the local community, and culture and history of Pok Fu Lam by participating in these activities.
21 March, 2021Back