Tenement Buildings in Hong Kong

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This tiny little street behind Bridges Street is arguably the last authentic Hong Kong neighborhood, a street with entirely 1950s architecture that we commonly call “tong lau,” which has been virtually unchanged over the past decades.

why Wing Lee Street has a strong heritage value, seen through the street’s residents and its architectural value through its tong laus.

Wing Lee Street might be tiny, but is a testimony to Hong Kong’s history, and one of the last remaining pieces of heritage of this kind

Wing Lee Street is one of the last streets in Hong Kong where the entire street of tong laus remains intact. The 11 tong laus there, despite having different physical conditions, are kept almost completely unchanged as when they were when first built from 1951 to 1954. The entire street had been destroyed during World War II, and so these buildings were built for tenement purposes at that time to house as many residents as possible in an economical and practical way. The 11 tong laus are designed by two architects, A. H. Basto and N. H. Fok, so the buildings are of two particular styles.

As most of Central and Western district is constructed along slopes, there are a lot of terraces built in the area. With redevelopment rapidly happening across the city, there has been a loss of these terraces. Professor Woo says this is one of the last remaining authentic terraces found in Hong Kong. “This is also particularly rare—it’s squeezed in between high rise developments and yet the setting has been kept intact,” she says.

“The architectural value of the site lies in the entire line of tong laus,” she says

“Not only is this setting very rare these days, these are the only remaining tong laus that line an entire street. The tong laus’ setting, with the street in front of them, allows residents to build up very tight relationships with one another,” she says. “These people’s relationships trace back decades and generations....
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