A Remarkable Survivor of Hong Kong's Past
Pokfulam, a small village perched on a hillside in the west of Hong Kong Island, is characterized by narrow lanes and alleys twisting through the village, around small traditional buildings and newer structures. The modest appearance of Pokfulam belies its importance to the history of Hong Kong. The storied Dairy Farm Group, set up in Pokfulam in 1886 to provide Hong Kong with fresh milk, expanded rapidly, offering employment to many of Pokfulam's residents. The community's most important tradition is the Fire Dragon Dance that takes place during the Mid-Autumn Festival every year, when villagers insert incense into a straw-filled, hand-crafted dragon to visit each household, bringing blessings and fostering a spirit of community. The dance was inscribed on Hong Kong's Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2011.
Pokfulam is a remarkable survivor of Hong Kong's past, but it is facing pressure from urban redevelopment plans, including a proposal to convert unoccupied Dairy Farm workers' dormitories into high-density housing. Stringent squatter control policies make it hard for villagers to repair their dwellings, as they are required to use materials that were registered at the time of the last occupancy survey, which was conducted in the 1980s. Thus it is important to study, educate, and advocate the value of traditions and diversity in Hong Kong and to initiate a conservation and sustainable management model for future development.
Preserving the last village on Hong Kong Island
Pokfulam Village was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch to raise awareness of its significance and scarcity in the modern metropolitan Hong Kong. In 2015, with support from American Express, and in partnership with the non-profit organization Pokfulam Village Cultural Landscape Conservation Limited (PFLV-CLCL), WMF launched a program to restore a historic house and to reuse it as a community center. The program will set up a conservation and sustainable management model for Pokfulam, allowing for the upgrading of building stock, and will best serve this intimate community and contribute to the preservation of the historic fabric of Hong Kong’s urban space.
Since the inclusion on the Watch, PFLV-CLCL joins the local community to hold celebrations of Mid-Autumn Festival as part of Watch Day events every year. In 2019, Pokfulam Village celebrated the grand opening of the community center alongside celebrations for the 2019 Mid-Autumn Festival. The completed project serves this intimate community and contributes to the preservation of the historic fabric of Hong Kong's urban space.