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iconic buildings hk 16032020
Left: Gwulo.com/circa 1930s; right: Calvin Siticonic buildings hk 16032020

Five iconic Hong Kong buildings: Then and now

We take a look back at five iconic architectural creations and what they’ve now become

Written by
Olivia Lai
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Our city’s famous skyline has witnessed a wealth of stunning architecture over the past 150 years. Though many have since been demolished for the modern-age of glossy skyscrapers, some buildings remain just as salient in our collective memories – take a look at these lost buildings if you’re feeling nostalgic. From the city’s oldest buildings to arguably the most beautiful, revisit these five architectural gems and see what they’ve now become.

RECOMMENDED: Explore more of Hong Kong through nature and experience these beautiful heritage trails in Hong Kong.

Five iconic Hong Kong buildings: Then and now

  • Things to do
  • Central

Originally completed in 1865, the headquarters of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, now commonly known as HSBC, received several facelifts before it became the architectural wonder it is today. Three versions of the building were knocked down – including a Victorian-style design, which featured an octagonal dome, and an iconic art deco structure – before the space was taken over by an ultra-modern building made entirely of structural steel. Some of the few unchanged features are its two lion bronze statues, which were saved from being melted down by the Japanese during WWII, and remain standing guard at the entrance of the bank.

Left image: Old HK Photo/circa 1950s; right image: Calvin Sit

  • Attractions
  • Tsim Sha Tsui

Once a bustling train station where thousands of commuters passed through every day, the only relic that now remains of this structure is its red brick and granite clock tower. The station was erected in 1915 and despite huge preservation efforts, it was demolished in 1978. The clock tower has been preserved as a Declared Monument and serves as part of the Kowloon skyline together with the Star Ferry pier and the Cultural Centre.

Left image: Gwulo.com/circa 1930s; right image: Calvin Sit

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  • Attractions
  • Kowloon City

An image of suffocating chaos and a sense of anarchy are immediately conjured when it comes to this conglomeration. Once the world’s most densely populated area – and where prostitution, gambling and drug abuse were rife – Kowloon Walled City was demolished in 1994. While its colourful, seedy history lives on in the public consciousness, in its place now stands a serene, lush Chinese-style garden where traces of the preserved walled city remain.

Left image: Wikimedia Commons/Ian Lambot/circa 1980s; right image: Calvin Sit

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Tsuen Wan

Much like Tai Kwun, The Mills is a heritage site that has undergone a major transformation, having been repurposed from a former cotton mill into a fashion textile and arts hub. Since ceasing operations in 2008, the original Nan Fung factory buildings have been reconstructed as one giant complex and is now home to a plethora of restaurants, stores showcasing local design talents, as well as an art gallery. You can find remnants of the old factory here and there, like the original red coloured building sign, while exterior walls have been replaced by glass to provide a more modern look.

Left image: The Mills/circa 1960s; right image: The Mills

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  • Things to do
  • Central

First established in 1841, the General Post Office moved four times before it settled in its current location at Connaught Place, its permanent home since 1976. Its most iconic former incarnation is undoubtedly the one that stood at the junction of Des Voeux Road and Pedder Street between 1911 to 1977. It was an architectural gem – an Edwardian-style building complete with red and white bricks and rows of arches that stood out from its pale neighbours. It was eventually demolished to make way for Central MTR Station and later, World-Wide House.

Left image: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries/1941; right image: Calvin Sit

Show Hong Kong some love

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