Once hidden behind Mount Cameron and Mount Nicholson, Wong Chuk Hang (wong4 zuk1 haang1 黃竹坑, literally “Yellow Bamboo Grove”), was in the 19th century a small village abundant in yellow bamboo. It became an industrial district after World War II, with growth encouraged by the opening of the Aberdeen Tunnel in 1982. By the late 1980s, more than 1,190 factories were operating in the area.
Locals who grew up in the Wong Chuk Hang Public Housing Estate, which was built during the area’s industrial heyday, remember the distinctive working-class character of the area. Trucks loaded with stacks of freshly printed paper products hurried to and from the tunnel that connected the secluded south side community to Hong Kong’s business districts and port. Next to looming factory blocks, residents haggled over bak choi prices, worshipped the gods and hung their heavy laundry on gravity-defying bamboo sticks that extended from windows. It was a lively, friendly place.
Yet as the vast majority of factories moved to the mainland, the industrial hub went past its prime in the 1990s, leaving behind only a handful of small-scale industrial operations. The housing estate was demolished in 2007 to make way for the construction of the MTR’s new Wong Chuk Hang Station and Wong Chuk Hang Depot. Today, connected to the rest of Hong Kong by the South Island Line, this formerly far-flung outpost is no longer isolated from the city’s hustle and bustle. The six-minute MTR journey to Admiralty has drawn more tourists, business people, expats and other newcomers, leading to rapid renewal and gentrification.
Wong Chuk Hang may have retained its rustic industrial fabric, but beneath the unassuming façades of former factory buildings are innovative art spaces, shops run with passion and quaint cafés that take advantage of the low-key atmosphere and spacious premises. We put together this second edition of our Wong Chuk Hang neighbourhood guide for you to discover a diverse, vibrant and whole new identity of the forest of factory blocks that manufacture pleasant surprises.
1/ de Sarthe
20/F, Global Trade Square, 21 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 2167 8896. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00-19:00.
The original de Sarthe Gallery was established in 1977, and later extended its influence by settling in America, Hong Kong (since 2010) and most recently Beijing, with the vision of representing a wide spectrum of international artists and presenting historically significant programming. Its 10,000-square-foot Hong Kong gallery hosts groundbreaking solo exhibitions for artists like Auguste Rodin, Hans Hartung, Chu Teh-Chun, Zao Wou-Ki, Robert Rauschenberg, Chen Zhen and Bernar Venet. It has also curated group shows such as gutai and The Pioneers of Chinese Modern Paintings in Paris.
The gallery inaugurated the de Sarthe Artist Residency in 2017, hosting an artist in the gallery’s local space for two months every summer to challenge conventional modes of art production and expose viewers to creative processes seldom seen first-hand.
Unit A, 4/F, Kin Teck Industrial Building, 26 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 2521 0308. Open Monday-Saturday, 9:30-18:30.
Not only is Sin Sin Man a well-known curator of Indonesian art who supports artists by encouraging them to develop their vision and talent instead of their market value, she is also an artist and designer in her own right. Her Wong Chuk Hang studio is where she focuses on painting, textile art and clothing design. She draws from folk techniques and traditions around Asia, including Javanese batik, hand-woven Nepalese cashmere and Mongolian felt. More than just a workspace, the studio is a social space with a cosy outdoor seating area and an inviting mix of Indonesian and Chinese furniture. The space opens to the public for occasional talks and art events.
5/F, Po Chai Industrial Building, 8 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 2517 6238. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00-18:00.
This 7,000-square-foot space was established in 2010 to bring contemporary photography out of the shadows of Hong Kong’s art scene. Since then, it has featured a mix of international and local photographers, with A Permanent Instant, which documented the use of instant photography in Hong Kong art, and Uninvited Guests, Shanxi artist Hao Jingban’s ambitious project that traces conflicting identities represented in propaganda, drama and documentary films. The gallery represents prominent artists like Leung Chi-wo, who has been a mainstay of Hong Kong’s contemporary art and photography scenes for decades, along with emerging talents like South Ho, who trains his keen eye on Hong Kong’s cityscape.
12/F, Genesis, 33-35 Wong Chuk Hang Road. By appointment with the individual artists only; their contacts are available on http://artspace.hk/?lang=en#Artists.
Tucked away in Genesis is an art space where the creativity of Hong Kong artists germinates and flourishes. The Arts Space Scheme was initiated in Wong Chuk Hang by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC), established in 1995, to provide arts studios at concessionary rent to emerging local visual and media artists under the sponsorship of property owner Hip Shing Hong, which leases space at below-market rates to the ADC.
Currently, the 10,254-square-foot space accommodates 17 studios and 24 artists of various disciplines, including filmmaker Wong Cheuk-man, theatre set and costume designer Fivedollars as well as Jerwood Photography Award-winner Kurt Tong. There are two open days every year, in the spring and autumn, when the studios organise talks, exhibitions, performances and guided tours for the general public to appreciate the fruits of their artistic efforts.
5/ Bulle d’Art
Space A, 8/F, Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 9630 3680. Open during class hours: Monday, 10:00-13:00; Tuesday and Friday, 14:00-17:00; Wednesday, 18:00-21:00; or by appointment.
After 12 years of curating professional exhibitions and mastering the art of sculpting in Belgium, Portugal and Paris, sculptor Christine Blom finds herself teaching and creating more art pieces in the spacious, friendly and brightly-lit Wong Chuk Hang studio. She founded Bulle d’Art as an artistic community space, where both children and adults can express their creativity, discover their potentials and take a step back from their hectic work life through workshops of various sorts: calligraphy, embroidery, sculpture, furoshiki (traditional Japanese cloth wrapping), knitting and Chinese and Western painting.
Bulle d’art is a collaborative space where Blom hosts a wide range of cultural and art events. Current and upcoming projects include HUSH Photo Exhibition, a film club, an art therapy workshop and collaborative events with Le French May.
3/F, Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 2110 4370. Open Monday-Friday, 8:00-20:00.
In the midst of an otherwise unremarkable industrial building lies a surprising co-working space that brims with creativity. First founded as Spring Workshop by Mimi Brown in 2011, Spring’s five-year programme served as a laboratory for artists, arts organisations and audiences from Hong Kong and around the world. The 13,000-square-foot space is now home to Hive Spring, a co-working facility that offers a platform for international cross-disciplinary artist programmes and curatorial residencies, as well as a wide range of exhibitions, music events, screenings and talks.
7/ Lump Studio
11A, Gee Luen Hing Industrial Building, 2 Yip Fat Street. Tel. (+852) 2116 0865. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00-21:00.
Opened in March 2017 by Liz Lau, Lump is Hong Kong’s first membership-based pottery studio. It welcomes ceramic artists with various degrees of experience, from experts to novices or amateurs who are one to two years into ceramics making. Fuelled by her passion for history, Lau chose to work with ceramics as it is one of the oldest forms of art, a vehicle through which humans have told stories about their world for centuries. Her fully-equipped studio offers classes for interested individuals to unwind from their busy city life, and the space for professional artists to nurture and perfect their skills.
8/ Pékin Fine Arts
16 /F, Union Industrial Building, 48 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 2177 6190. Open Tuesday-Friday, 10:00-18:00; Saturday, 11:00-18:00; and Sunday-Monday, by appointment.
With a sister gallery in Beijing that was designed by acclaimed artist and architect Ai Weiwei, Pekin Fine Arts’ outpost in Hong Kong represents a line-up of prominent contemporary artists working in a wide variety of mediums. These artists have had exhibitions and/or works collected by established art institutions around the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the International Centre of Photography in New York City.
The space is led by director Meg Maggio, who founded Pekin Fine Arts in Beijing in November 2005 and is a 20-year China resident and art writer who promotes artists from Asia. The Hong Kong gallery, which opened in 2012, serves as another creative confluence point where artists born or based in Hong Kong or China showcase their brushwork, ink paintings, ceramics, sculptures and many more forms in their exploration and depiction of the contemporary experiences, such as in the latest exhibition, Twist and Turn.
9/ Studio 9
9/F Union Industrial Building, 48 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 6096 7848. By appointment only.
Studio 9 is nothing like an ordinary gallery. “It would be terribly sad if art existed only in galleries and museums, and design only in glossy publications, and was used only for commercial purpose,” says entrepreneur-cum-designer Ahlayia Yung, who founded Studio 9 in September 2016 as a community space where culture and commerce meet. Here, you can find an eclectic assortment of meticulously designed furniture of various colours, periods, purposes and styles in a living room-like gallery.
And it is more than a space housing innovative pieces. Yung, who also runs Salon 10 in Central, was inspired by the French tradition of cultural salons in Europe – nightly gathering places for creatives and intellectuals who are willing to engage in thorny topics without prejudice. Bringing this vision to Hong Kong, Yung has turned Studio 9 into a place for live events, music, talks and seminars, all supplemented by tea, coffee and cocktails – a one-stop shop for artists, furniture and home décor clienteles or anyone who is simply interested in culture.
10/ Yallay Gallery
Unit 3C, Yally Building, 6 Yip Fat Street. Tel. (+852) 3575 9417. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00-18:00; or by appointment.
Chinese art expert Jean-Marc Decrop and veteran gallerist Fabio Rossi founded this gallery in 2013 to showcase art from regions that are seldom exposed in East Asia, including the Middle East, Turkey and Iran. The 6,000-square-foot space also features works from China and the rest of Asia. Decrop calls Hong Kong “the new hub of the art world,” and he says it is the perfect place to establish a counterbalance to the North Atlantic dominance of global art.
11/ Art Statements
Factory D, 8/F, Gee Chang Hong Centre, 65 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 2696 2300. Open Monday-Saturday, 12:00-19:00; or by appointment.
Swiss-born former stockbroker Dominique Perregaux opened Art Statements in 2003 to promote globally-acclaimed contemporary artists in a pan-Asian audience. It specialises in fine art and plans art events to enable the industry to reach a wider audience. In terms of connoisseur work, the gallery curates up to 10 exhibitions per year, participates in international art fairs and is actively involved in dealing Western and Chinese modern and contemporary art. For something more popularly-based, it works extensively with regional architects, interior designers and property developers in public art consultancy projects. Previously, it has partnered with Fortis Bank to exhibit paintings by Salvador Dali, Pascal Lievre, Erwin Olaf and Helge Leiberg in the ArtBank project.
15/F, Suite 1501, 41 Heung Yip Road. Tel. (+852) 2180 7536. Open Monday-Wednesday, 9:30-20:00; Thursday-Friday, 9:30-21:30; and Saturday-Sunday, 10:00-18:00.
Hidden high up in a modest-looking commercial building is a cosy lunchtime paradise that welcomes diners with its lush African furnishings and an unbeatable bird’s-eye view of Wong Chuk Hang. The café is one of the only African venues in Hong Kong, with an open kitchen where bubbling key wat (Ethiopian beef stew), sizzling Kenyan-style roast lamb and berber-spiced tofu keep the mouths of the long line of hungry customers watering. The café also prides itself on sourcing premium coffee beans straight from Africa. Paired with its own roasting and brewing methods, each handcrafted cup is a luxurious experience for coffee addicts.
13/ The Loft
1/F, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street. Tel. (+852) 3120 4555. Open Monday-Friday, 8:00-18:00.
Channelling the style of New York’s upscale post-industrial Tribeca neighbourhood, this 4,000-square-foot space is equipped with a grab-and-go salad and light meal express bar serving a good selection of greens for office busy bees who wish to opt for clean and healthy eating. But for those who want to enjoy a slow afternoon, the brightly-lit space stocked with basket chairs and couches — and a roof terrace shaded by a few orange beach umbrellas — is ideal for sharing Roman-style pizzas with friends, savouring caprese sandwiches or chilling out in the southside sunshine.
14/ Sensory Zero
Unit G01, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road. Tel. (+852) 2511 6011. Open daily, 8:00-20:00.
Launched in 2014 by coffee obsessives Alvin Hui and Dixon Ip, this is one of Hong Kong’s best specialty coffee shops – and yet, mysteriously, one of its most underrated. Cavernous in size, the shop has a bright and breezy atmosphere. Contrasting a spare, lofty space with traditional Chinese decorative touches, such as a handcrafted dragon and phoenix, the café’s blend of tradition and modernity makes it a distinctive spot for appreciating espresso made with a classic top-of-the-line Rancilio machine and novel devices like the Nomad, a portable espresso maker that Ip and Hui use to make cold sparkling coffee.
Unit G07, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road. Tel. (+852) 2115 3348. Open daily, 8:00-17:00.
Furnished with old school desks and decorated with reclaimed wood, Mum is a vegetarian café serving Japanese-inspired cuisine made from locally available ingredients. Its signature set consists of small dishes which flavoured variety whets one’s palates. Top off the exquisite dining experience with thoroughly enjoyable desserts such as the vegan green tea or yin yang sesame ice-cream. Located around the corner from Sensory Zero, it attracts a robust lunchtime crowd of workers from the fashion companies located in the office tower upstairs.
6 Welfare Road, Aberdeen. Tel. (+852) 2553 0265.
Picturesquely capping a hill overlooking Aberdeen Harbour, this Catholic theological college dates back to the early foundation of the Regional Seminary for South China (1931-1964). The distinctive Chinese Revivalist architecture was meant to symbolise the integration of the church into China. The complex was one of 14 seminaries that were intended to be built around the country, but these plans were scuttled by the Japanese invasion. The seminary is normally closed to the public, but it occasionally opens for public lectures.
17/ Tai Wong Yeh Temple
1 Nam Long Shan Road. Tel. (+852) 2555 0836. Open Monday-Sunday, 8:00-17:00.
There are a number of Tai Wong Yeh temples in different parts of Hong Kong. The one in Wong Chuk Hang, now under the shadow of the new elevated MTR line, is the only temple on Hong Kong Island dedicated to Tai Wong Yeh. Literally meaning the “Big Prince,” Tai Wong Yeh is a general term for divine emissaries who ward off bad fortune and disease. They are traditionally worshipped by people of Hoklo descent in Fujian, South China. This structure originated when local fishermen erected a shrine to the deity along the Wong Chuk Hang Nullah. In 1982, the government donated funds to allow the construction of a permanent concrete temple. Today, it is still frequented by worshippers and tourists alike.
100 metres off Nam Fung Road, behind the Hong Kong University Graduate Association College.
Not far from Wong Chuk Hang’s main industrial strip is a cluster of prehistoric rock carvings that depict stylised animal eyes. The carvings are a declared historic monument believed to date to around 1000 BC. It is a mystery as to why they are found inland, as opposed to other coastal rock carvings in Hong Kong, which are believed to be a way for early seafaring inhabitants to harness the power of the sea for their protection.
19/ Edit the Brand
10B, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 6505 2503. Open Monday-Friday, 10:00-19:00, or by appointment.
The brand is about minimalist comfort, but one mustn’t confuse this with simplicity. Sharing a background in fashion and architecture, the designers—and lifelong friend—have razor-sharp focus on details. They create each piece with meticulous consideration of shape and form before adding their signature light-hearted quirk or playful frill. Inspired by modernist architects, their garments are statement pieces for the modern woman.
20/ Ditto Ditto
16A Yan’s Tower, 27 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 3678 9881. Open Monday-Friday, 9:30-18:30.
If there is one thing that illustrator P.S. Chan is obsessed with, apart from chocolate, it’s paper. To Chan, different types of paper have their own characters and sense of touch. That was why she founded a boutique stationery brand and design studio housed with a Heidelberg Windmill – a letterpress printing machine invented over a century ago. One may remark that she belongs to the old school of printing culture, but her insistence on hand-printing every single card and designing personalised stationery offers customers some of the most unique and thoughtful gifts to express love and affection to recipients.
14/F Cheung Tak Industrial Building, 30 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 2522 2115. Open Monday-Saturday, 10:00-19:00; and Sunday and public holidays, 12:00-18:00.
It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when the warm tones and clean lines of Scandinavian design were decidedly unfashionable in Hong Kong, which has only recently discarded its preference for loud patterns and gaudy extravagance. Paul Fung and Susan Man have been guiding the city’s transition away from opulence with their expansive collection of original Scandinavian pieces by masters like Danish designer Hans Wegner, who was renowned for blending elegant simplicity with comfort and functionality.
22/ Float Captain
Shop 1, G/F, Marina Tower, 8 Shum Wan Road. Varied opening hours available on its website; or by e-mail appointment (email@example.com).
Hitting Hong Kong with a new wave of fashion from California and Hawaii is surf lifestyle and apparel brand Float Captain, set up by a small crew of friends in 2011. The surf enthusiasts source functional, comfortable and minimalistic accessories, gear and tees inspired by modern and retro surf influences from California to Asia as well as traditional loggers to modern day shredders. Their sassy Aberdeen outpost is a treasure cave of a wide selection of boards, chic surf craft, trendsetting surf wear – and beer for sharing.
23/ Casa Capriz
1/F Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 9318 1730. Open Monday-Friday, 9:00-19:00.
Irene Capriz says she is trying to “bridge furniture and art” with her collection of vintage Italian sofas, tables and objects. Capriz sources all of her pieces from Italy and her taste is impeccable, straddling the lines between retro and contemporary, quirky and functional, eye-catching and unassuming. In a city of lookalike IKEA pieces, a visit to Casa Capriz’s 2,500-square-foot showroom is a window into a more eclectic life.
Flagship Store, 3/F, Yally Industrial Centre, 6 Yip Fat Street. Tel. (+852) 2553 9811. Open every day, 10:00-18:00.
You would hardly guess that the delightful flagship showroom of Mirth was once a humble stool factory. Five years after its opening, it has expanded into a furniture emporium sourcing designer furnishings, interior accessories, toys, artwork, books, stationery and wardrobe items from around the world. Everything is lovingly hand-picked for its uniqueness, daring design or elegance.
G/F, Sungib Industrial Centre, 53 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. (+852) 2783 8907. Open Monday-Friday, 16:30-18:30; and Saturday (excluding public holidays), 12:00-18:00.
The award-winning craft beer brewery has created many inventive and locally inspired recipes since its opening in December 2013, ranging from the Classic, a well-balanced pale ale, to avant-garde beers like sour ales made with forest berries, to the tart and saline Cha Chaan Teng Gose, brewed with local salted lime as an homage to the haam4 ling4 cat1 (咸柠七), a favourite salty-sour-sweet local beverage. Its Wong Chuk Hang brewery is a state-of-the-art forty-hectolitre facility that features a fully-automated CraftStar brewhouse from Germany. A newly expanded barrel-ageing area, along with a mixed-fermentation programme based around a foeder — a kind of giant wooden fermentation tank that is the first of its kind in Asia — has allowed the brewery to create beers unlike any others in the region.
Stay the Night
26/ Ovolo Southside
64 Wong Chuk Hang Road. Tel. of Komune +852 3460 8157. Open daily, 6:30-23:00. Tel. of Above (+852) 3460 8159. Open Tuesday-Saturday 17:00-1:00; and Sunday 16:00-1:00.
Fashioned out of a high-rise warehouse, this stylish hotel has become an anchor for Wong Chuk Hang life since it opened in 2014. The ground-floor void space plays host to frequent art exhibitions, while the hotel’s restaurant, Komune, is a popular lunch spot thanks to its expansive terrace and South American dishes freshly prepared in an open kitchen. Rooftop bar Above has a commanding view over the Wong Chuk Hang sports grounds, with Deep Water Bay visible in the distance.
Don’t get lost