Hong Kong Destroys Its Heritage

I wish I could say I was surprised when the Antiquities Advisory Board, in a closed door meeting, voted to demolish the colonial-era, Bauhaus style Central Market. Instead, in an act of supreme foolishness, they recommended that detailed photos of it be taken for display in the future.

Even though the architects on the board disagreed, one of them actually walking out on the meeting.  The board decided it wasn’t even genuine Bauhaus and that there were other buildings in Hong Kong in this style, some of them even more attractive and having more architectural merit: this in spite of 80% of interviewed architects desiring to retain the building in some form.

The fact that the site will fetch in the neighborhood of HK$5.8 billion at auction, I’m sure had nothing to do with the decision. Developers could be heard licking their chops from miles away.

As Central District Councilor Kam Nai-wai said, “The advisory board did not show genuine respect to our heritage. They should keep at least part of the heritage.”

He couldn’t be more correct. There is no comprehensive government policy on protecting Hong Kong’s historical Heritage. In fact it sometimes appears that the government is more interested in making money on land sales than on protecting one of the key tourist attractions, Hong Kong’s colonial history. See my posting on Killing the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

As Hong Kong tears down its history, there will be less reason to visit here. People can find air-conditioned shopping malls anywhere. Better hurry if you want to see anything of old Hong Kong.