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Heritage Discovery Centre to display drawings of historical buildings

Various types of Chinese and Western styles of historical buildings can be found in Hong Kong. They are unique landmarks serving as the living history of the city and therefore should be properly preserved.

Cartographic surveying, an important way to preserve the heritage, accurately records the architectural structure and features of buildings and acts as a reference for future restoration projects. The drawings of historical buildings are also important historical documents, reflecting the evolution of Hong Kong's history and culture.

The "Cartographic Survey of Historic Buildings Exhibition" will be held from tomorrow (June 6) until December 3 at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre. More than 50 measured drawings produced by the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Architectural Services Department and the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) will be on display.

Cartographic surveying uses various scientific methods to conduct surveys on the original forms of buildings, including building structure, details, scale and proportions. Modern methods of producing measured drawings according to the regulations of architectural drawing production are used to ensure that the results of the survey are accurately recorded in the format of drawings. A set of measured drawings typically includes site plan, floor and roof plans, elevations, sections, and selected large-scale details. Occasionally, axonometric or isometric views are also produced for three-dimensional representation.

Measured drawings provide valuable information on the development of Hong Kong's architecture and the history of Hong Kong and enhance public understanding of local cultural heritage.

On display include drawings of traditional Chinese buildings, such as Tsang Tai Uk in Sha Tin, Tai Fu Tai Mansion, Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall, Kun Ting Study Hall in Ping Shan and Tin Hau Temple in Causeway Bay. Drawings of different kinds of Western buildings are also featured in the exhibition, including Catholic and Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, the building complex at the University of Hong Kong, the Central Police Station Compound, Victoria Prison, the Haw Par Mansion and Kam Tong Hall.

Traditional Chinese buildings in Hong Kong include residences, ancestral halls, study halls and temples. The architectural features of these historical buildings are showcased through the measured drawings at the exhibition.

Old villages in Hong Kong are arranged on a central axis with halls and courtyards in a progression. Many of these villages are protected by walls and are known as walled villages. The village houses were designed to facilitate air circulation and courtyards provide natural lighting for the surrounding chambers. Built in 1867, Tsang Tai Uk in Sha Tin is a typical Hakka walled village in Hong Kong.

Tai Fu Tai Mansion is an exquisite Guangdong courtyard house, located amid former rice paddies occupied by the Man clan of San Tin. This dwelling was built in 1865. It is a typical nine-room residence, with its friezes and roof ridges generously decorated with terracotta figurines. Interior archways are embellished with glass and plastered floral patterns. The residence is a fine example of the traditional Chinese dwellings of the scholar-gentry class and is one of the most elegant traditional Chinese buildings in Hong Kong.

An ancestral hall is a place to honour and worship clan ancestors. These buildings usually comprise two halls and one courtyard or three halls and two courtyards. The ancestral hall uses walls and columns to support the wooden roof structure of the building, which is covered by traditional Chinese tiles.

Study halls were primary schools preparing children for a series of examinations, from those at the village level to the rigorous requirements of imperial service. By the 19th century, there were about 45 such study halls in the New Territories. Situated in Ping Shan, the Kun Ting Study Hall was built in 1870 and is one of Hong Kong's most distinguished study halls. The brackets, screen panels and plaster mouldings inside the building reflect the work of skillful craftsmen.

One of the oldest surviving temples in Hong Kong is the Tin Hau Temple in Causeway Bay, named after the Queen of Heaven, Goddess of the Sea. Built in 18th century, it is of a traditional temple architecture on a two-hall plan. Adjacent are small courtyards with altars of the Azure Dragon and the White Tiger. The roof of the Tin Hau Temple displays a pantheon of ceramic figurines manufactured at the Shiwan potteries in Foshan, Guangdong.

The development of Western buildings began when British Colonial rule was established in Hong Kong in 1841. The measured drawings featured at the exhibition, including churches, schools, government buildings and residences, reveal the characteristics of these historic buildings.

Church buildings in Hong Kong have diverse styles, including Romanesque, Gothic Revival, Eclecticism. Catholic and Christian churches are usually in the shape of crosses and verandas, rose windows, painted glasses and red bricks, can be found.

There are many historical buildings related to education in Hong Kong. One of the most representatives is the group of buildings at the University of Hong Kong, including the Main Building and Hung Hing Ying Building. The University of Hong Kong was built in 1912 and is the oldest university in Hong Kong. The Main Building is the oldest building of the university. It is supported by granite colonnades in renaissance style with a tall clock tower and four turrets towering over them. Hung Hing Ying Building was opened in 1919 and was built of granite, bricks and timber.

The former Kowloon British School in Tsim Sha Tsui is the oldest surviving school building providing education for European children in Hong Kong. It was officially opened in 1902 and reflects the typical architectural style of the Victorian period.

Early government buildings were mainly built for military and administrative purposes, such as Flagstaff House, the Central Police Station Compound and Victoria Prison. Since there were few architects, the early Western buildings in Hong Kong resembled the architectural style of those in Britain. Modifications were made to adapt to local technology, materials and humid weather, such as adding wide verandas, pitched roofs and wooden shutters, thus creating a unique colonial style.

There were Western buildings built as residences for expatriates in the early days of British rule. Usually two to three storeys high, these buildings had a particular British Victorian Colonial style with tiled roofs and open verandas. One of the distinguished residences in Hong Kong is the Haw Par Mansion, Causeway Bay. It was built in 1935 by Mr Aw Boon-haw, the inventor of Tiger Balm Ointment.

Located at 7 Castle Road, Sheung Wan, Kom Tong Hall was built in 1914 as a residence of the affluent Ho Kom-tong family. Built in the classic architectural style of the Edwardian period, the building is lavishly decorated with stained glass windows, teakwood staircase and panels, most of which is preserved in its original state. The building is now under renovation and will be converted into the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.

The exhibition also illustrates the methods and tools for cartographic survey. Traditional surveying is essentially based on the manual use of tape and measurement poles. Contemporary surveying involves the use of photogrammetry or laser scanning technology. Researchers collect precise information and convert it into a full set of measured drawings. The variety of drawing tools available has also expanded, with tools ranging from dull quill pen, nib pen, pencil and watercolour, to the contemporary techniques of computer-aided design, photogrammetry and laser scanning.

Located at Kowloon Park, Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, the Heritage Discovery Centre opens from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday, and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is free.

For enquiries, call 2208 4400. For details of the exhibition, visit AMO's website at .

Ends/Monday, June 5, 2006
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