Following the previous location, we have arrived to the second estate of the series. This time I will introduce an estate that is located in Kennedy Town, the Central and Western District of Hong Kong Island. It is also the only housing estate under the jurisdiction of the Housing Authority in the Central and Western District – Sai Wan Estate.
If we were to calculate the age of the buildings, Sai Wan Estate is already a home for the elderly in terms of the existing public housing in Hong Kong that has not been demolished and rebuilt. Sai Wan Estate, which is more than 60 years old, was occupied as early as 1958 ( it is about the same age as my father!), so you’re not alone in the sense that the buildings in it feel relatively old.
The lands of Sai Wan Estate actually belonged to the hills of the Mount Davis area. At that time, the Hong Kong and British governments announced the construction in 1955 and officially named Sai Wan Estate before it was occupied in 1958.
Since Sai Wan Estate is located on the hillside of Cadogan Street, it is 250 meters away from Victoria Road. At that time, the site was square and included multiple hillsides. Therefore, the actual hillside area of the estate is only 3.7 acres (it is only slightly larger than two standard football fields), and the terrain is naturally steep. Therefore, the housing estate is designed and built based on the terrain. As well as being limited by its small land area. The whole estate is designed to only accomodate 5 buildings with a total of 636 units.
In addition, if you look at the photos carefully, you should not find that the buildings in the estate are terrace-connected buildings, each of which has different heights, ranging from 10 to 14 floors. Except for the East Terrace, which is an independent one, the other four are all connected by corridors. I believe that the above design is to facilitate interaction and communication between neighbors, so as to create the effect a close-knit community.
It is rare for neighbors to greet each other in Hong Kong today. On the contrary, it has become the norm for each family mind their own businesses. On the day of the shooting, it was not only neighbours Ms Chan and Ms Lee who greeted each other warmly, sharing parts of the daily lives. Even the neighbours living in the opposite building were engaging in conversation, which displays the deep camaraderie between them.
Moreover, since the estate is built accordingly to the terrain, it is not surprising to find that there are multiple stairs in the Sai Wan Estate, including the one shown in the picture. Later, based on factors such as the aging population of the housing estate and the location of the buildings on platforms of different heights, the former Building Construction Committee built a lift near the main pedestrian entrance of the housing estate, that is, near Cadogan Street, to facilitate access to the neighborhood.
As the only public housing estate under the jurisdiction of the Housing Authority in the Central and Western District, it is also the second housing estate of the Housing Construction Association (one of the predecessors of the current Housing Authority). In terms of naming, the housing estate is also different from the current common suffix “House”. Instead, it is replaced by “Terrace”. As for the prefix naming, it is based on the orientation of the building. For example, the location of the main entrance of Sai Wan Estate in the picture above, the closest building is East Terrace, and it is also the only building in the estate that is not connected to the other four.
As for the other four, they are the South Terrace, the West Terrace, the North Terrace and the Central Terrace.
In recent years, I have seen more news related to Sai Wan Estate. It is most likely due to the fact that the Government announced that it was included in the reconstruction plan. Regarding the reconstruction of Sai Wan Estate, I didn’t feel deeply personally. After all, the estate is very far away. I didn’t live in the area or have any connections to it.
But after visiting Sai Wan Estate, I was quickly attracted by its unique terrain and antique architecture. Although the exact timetable for the reconstruction has not yet been announced, to be honest, based on the experience of the government in the reconstruction of public housing in recent years, the rebuilt public housing are a bunch of very bland buildings. Although there have been improvements in design, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the neighbourhood to be more comfortable than before. However, if it is rebuilt, the Government can think more about how to preserve the history of Sai Wan Estate (in recent months, the Housing Society has launched the “Ming Wah Dai Ha Documentary Project” website for the Ming Wah Building in Shau Kei Wan). I believe that for many neighbors, it can be said that it is to preserve and witness the memories of living in the past, and it must be of great significance.
Location: Ka Wai Man Road, Sai Wan
Transportation: About 3 minutes walk from Exit C of Kennedy Town Station of MTR Station; Minibus No. 13; Cross-harbour Bus 101, 104, 971, Hong Kong Island Bus 1, 5B, 10, 43M, etc.