Heritage Walk: Sham Shui Po with Alex Hui

Art and architecture of the 21st century often look into asking questions about the way people live, think and feel. Less emphasis is placed on things that bear reference to the theories or views of historical development of culture.

Sham Shui Po in Cantonese, means Deep Water Pier. Located in the heart of Kowloon, it is one of the oldest settlement districts in Hong Kong among the lowest median household income and with the highest percentage of elderly over 65 years. The residents of Sham Shui Po are quite transient in nature, yet the community, or “kaifong”, shows deep cultural roots and high neighbourhood spirit. This is quite similar to Chinatown or Harlem where people rarely stay for more than one generation, but the community characteristics remain unique and rich.

There are many interesting features in the area such as the street markets, stalls for fashion, accessories, second hand goods, chemical items and antique Chinese furniture outfits. Apliu Street is known to be the counterpart of Japan’s famous high tech Akihabara district with its computers and electronic products. Sham Shui Po is a jolly flea market lover’s haven with local “cha-chantang” or cafés freckled here and there. The street layout is interesting; with tenement housing and shop houses or “tong lau” of all vintages and there is even a special gem of a pawn shop.

During this walk, Alex will share his interesting insights with us on how the diverse colours of Sham Shui Po came into being, and he will probably kindle our thoughts on the controversial balance of handling urban decay and heritage conservation.

An architect with a keen interest in urban conservation, Alex Hui was a curator of The University of Hong Kong Museum and Art Gallery and Executive Director of the Hong Kong Art Centre.