A conservation expert from the University of Hong Kong has proposed turning a historic underground reservoir in Sham Shui Po into a public space, saying authorities could draw inspiration from Sydney’s Paddington Reservoir Gardens.
The scenic, award-winning, heritage-listed park in Australia was converted from an ancient reservoir, with much of the ruins, including bricks, timber and iron fixtures carefully preserved.
The director of HKU’s Division of Architectural Conservation Programmes, Lee Ho-yin, said the government should consider doing something similar by, for example, keeping the iconic Romanesque arches at the Bishop Hill site in Sham Shui Po and turning it into a park.
He also called on the authorities to find out if there are other historic structures on Bishop Hill, adding that conservation experts should be sent to check out all pre-war structures in future.
Demolition work on the site was halted this week, following the discovery of Roman-style arches at the disused cistern.
Development Secretary Michael Wong said on Tuesday that communication issues within the government had left no one aware of the importance of the structure that had been dismissed as an old ‘water tank’ by the Water Supplies Department.
He stressed that authorities are now looking at how to preserve the century-old structure, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam saying on her Facebook page that she hopes the area can be turned into a place for people to enjoy and have fun.
Sham Shui Po district councillor Kalvin Ho told RTHK that it is also the general consensus of nearby residents to save the site.
"Originally, the residents nearby built some recreational amenities by themselves on Bishop Hill just on the top of the reservoir," he said.
"So the residents want to conserve this place and also make it open to the public so that everyone can enjoy it and the residents nearby can still do sports and recreational activities in the reservoir."