Is conservation the price to pay for urbanisation? In the past few years, we've seen Hong Kong lose historic landmarks such as Queen's Pier, and the Star Ferry piers in Central and Wan Chai. With the city's rapid urban development, this has led us to ponder whether old and new can ever coexist, which is the theme of this issue: heritage and revitalisation. It has been a trending topic ever since the opening of new art and cultural hub Tai Kwun, our cover story, after a long preservation and rejuvenation initiative.
Housed within a compound of both heritage buildings – including a former police station, magistracy and prison – and contemporary structures, Tai Kwun is probably the most celebrated redevelopment project in Hong Kong, thanks to its unprecedented scale and more than 170 years of history. However, those of you entering the Parade Ground expecting a venue for exhibitions and performing arts may be as astonished as I was to find yourself surrounded by restaurants and shops. I look forward to seeing more floor area dedicated to exhibitions and performances in the future.
The essence of heritage redevelopment is to breathe new life into old structures. The approach taken by the late Australian architect Kerry Hill was not to attempt to rebuild or replicate old structures but to adapt them to fit a new purpose. This issue we cover one of his last projects, Amanyangyun resort in Shanghai, which was partly built from reassembled Ming and Qing dynasty houses, rescued from a dam project 700km away.
Back in Hong Kong, The Mills, though incomparable in scale to Tai Kwun, is an exciting rejuvenation by Nam Fung. It is transforming a cluster of 1960s and '70s cotton mills, from its own past as a textile manufacturer, into a new cultural complex in Tsuen Wan, due to open officially in December.
Up next, the conservation of Haw Par Mansion – a Grade 1, lavishly decorated, private family mansion built in 1933 and now owned by the government – is nearing completion under the care of Roger Wu, chairman of RIBA's Hong Kong Chapter. I am beyond excited about its re-opening as a music academy at the end of the year. Let's hope heritage regeneration, whether public or private, is here to stay.