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Yau Kee Hop tong lau in Sheung Wan
Photograph: Joshua Lin

A pop-up community space takes over historic Sheung Wan shop

A project that revitalises vacant shops and delivers resources to the neighbourhood community

Catharina Cheung
Written by
Catharina Cheung
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Since 2017, architecture-based design company onebite has been promoting community building through better utilisation of vacant ground floor spaces around Hong Kong. After successful projects in Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po, and Aberdeen (plus a pause during the pandemic), they restarted their efforts last summer at 1 Queen’s Road West in Sheung Wan, and what was initially supposed to be a six-week run has been extended until April this year.

Yau Kee Hop tong lau in Sheung Wan
Photograph: Joshua Lin

This vacant streetfront shop on the corner of Queen’s Road West and Bonham Strand is a beautiful pre-war tong lau (tenement building) that was built before the 1920s, and is now designated as a Grade III historic building. There are only a small handful of tong lau in Hong Kong that sit on a street corner with its shopfront visible on both sides of a right angle, and this is one of them. According to the vivid green Chinese characters still visible on the four-storey building, it used to house a shop named Yau Kee Hop which sold preserved meats, then later became a Chinese herbal tea shop, a vegetable stall, and a grocery store. 

Yau Kee Hop tong lau in Sheung Wan
Photograph: Joshua Lin

The Yau Kee Hop building is now seeing a new lease of life as a community hub that serves as a third space for the kaifongs (neighbours) of Sheung Wan. Drop by to enjoy a free space that provides water, wifi, and washroom facilities. This community project is also centred on holistic wellbeing, so services on Mondays offer physical and mental health checks, while there are also free counselling and meditation sessions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, respectively. There is even a community nanny team that can provide childcare services. Onebite Social is offering a way to connect with the neighbourhood and community around us in meaningful ways, so pop by 1 Queen’s Road West while you can to support the latest events. Find out more about their project here.

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