Urban Diary
未來故事 永續香港|Sustainable Future, Hong Kong Tales
Diarist's Notes
21 January 2022

The Southern District is fascinating. For centuries, Aberdeen Harbour has been a busy harbour that provided shelter for brave seafarers. It is a living testimony of the city’s fishing village heritage. Although urbanisation has bridged Ap Lei Chau with the mainland, the sea allows for the former island to remain tranquil despite the hustle and bustle of the harbour and traffic brought by the MTR. Contrary to the tranquility of the seaside, the Aberdeen mainland is a vibrant town centre. In the nearby Wong Chuk Hang, there are a variety of offices, industrial workshops, artist studios and galleries. The district also provides accommodation for people from all walks of life, including the famous Wah Fu Estate. A short walk away from the harbour is the Aberdeen Country Park. Such complex terrain and human endeavour lured us to the Southern District time and again.

Our first involvement in the neighbourhood was Tales of Aberdeen, which was a project supported by the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust a couple years ago. Since then, we have always wanted to return and collect more stories of the area for those who made the place fascinating. With support from the Southern District Council, the Integer team is finally able to conduct a thorough documentation of Yue Kwong Chuen.

A rental estate of Housing Society, Yue Kwong Chuen was completed in 1962 as the first rental estate in Aberdeen. Built along Aberdeen Reservoir Road and close to the Aberdeen Country Park, the Estate captures the attention of hikers with its architecture. It has a total of 5 blocks and is home to around 1,100 families. The beautiful name of the Estate, which can be understood as “fishing lights” in Chinese, honours the fishing heritage of Aberdeen. Each block is named in relation to the sea and means something to fishers. In 2018, families waiting for public rental housing were able to apply for temporary housing under the Transitional Housing Rental Scheme. In a couple of years, the Society will redevelop the Estate.

Tales of Yuen Kwong Chuen is a compilation of human stories, photographs, architectural drawings and botanical artwork produced in 2020 and 2021. The book includes research that situates Yue Kwong Chuen amidst the fast-track urbanisation of Hong Kong. One of the longer reads features architect Yuen Tatcho, while another examines the cultural linkages between fishing communities of Aberdeen and Yue Kwong Chuen. There is also an in-depth report about the Estate’s trees.

With a humanistic approach, our team observes and captures the present while tracing the trajectory of how design and construction of the Estate came into place. Yue Kwong Chuen is a textbook case of using people-centric design to compensate for crowded living conditions of working
class families. The beginning of the Estatewas humble, yet full of noble intention and relentless hard work. Yue Kwong Chuen has become the sweet and lovely home of more than 1,000 families who are proud of their home.

This publication is a collective effort. In fact, it is possibly the first book in Hong Kong that takes an interdisciplinary approach to examine a public housing estate from multiple perspectives. It could not have been completed without the commitment of each and every one of our contributors. Without the support of the Southern District Council, the project would not exist in the first place. We have just begun to narrate stories of Aberdeen, and we look forward to collecting more stories of this fascinating part of Hong Kong in the future.

The book content has been uploaded to Issuu, you are cordially invited to read the full version at https://issuu.com/urbandiaryhk/docs/talesofykc.

Chloe Lai

Diarist's Notes