King Yin Lei

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King Yin Lei
King Yin Lei
The original appearance of King Yin Lei
Location 45 Stubbs Road
Current owner The Hong Kong Government
Area 4,706m2
Year of completion 1937
District Mid-Levels
Facilities main building, annex block, garage, subsidiary building, fore courtyard, pavilion, garden, swimming pool and cage area

Contents

Introduction

King Yin Lei

King Yin Lei ,also known as King Yin Lane(Chinese:景賢里) is a mansion situated at Mid-Levels, 45 Stubbs Road, it became a heritage in Hong Kong in 2007, when a controversy happened. The mansion was first destroyed and it is still on the process of reconstruction.






History

The second owner of King Yin Lei.(Photo from: google images)


King Yin Lei is a Chinese palatial architecture with the typical Chinese structure of three-storey "red bricks and green tiles" designed by a British architect A.R. Fenton-Rayen. It began construction in 1936 and completed in 1937 at a site over Happy Valley Racecourse, when Hong Kong was a colony of United Kingdom and had three Chinese owners, which was a significance remark when England was in control over Hong Kong. [1]


All the past owners of King Yin Lei are significant figures in Hong Kong in different eras. The first owner was Mrs. Shum Li Po-lun (岑李寶麟), the daughter of Mr. Li Po-chun (李寶椿) who was a famous merchant in Hong Kong who contributed a lot to much social welfare, including medical services and education. The second owner was Mr. Yow Qhei-man (邱子文) and his son Mr. Yow Mok-shing (邱木成) is the third owner of the mansion. Mr. Yow Qhei-man was a renowned businessman of manufacturing traditional Chinese dried fruit sweets and was known to local people as the “King of Dried Plums” (話梅大王). Whereas his son, the third owner of the mansion, is a famous businessman who contributes a lot to public charities and the field of education, like Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (東華三院), a Justice of the Peace (太平紳士)and some local communities, such as the Hong Kong Chiu Chow Chamber of Commerce (香港潮州商會).pedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom England] was in control over Hong Kong. [1] Yet, the last owner of the mansion is still an unknown to us.


Apart from the owners of Kei Yin Lei, the mansion actually is a remarkable place in history. Hong Kong was a colony of Britain, thus, it is not surprising that the British colonial style architecture played a dominant role. Yet, King Yin Lei which is lavishly built in the style of Chinese palatial architecture were a rarity. In addition, it was built in a prominent location at the Mid-Levels where British style buildings were dominated.


Last but not least, the style of King Yin Lei makes it distinctive to other architecture. It is a rare style of “predominantly Chinese with Chinese and Western elements nicely combined” (中西結合,以中為主).pedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom England] was in control over Hong Kong. [1] Not many other buildings of similar kind style can compare with King Yin Lei in terms of its excellence in architectural design, craftsmanship and diversity in building materials.



Structure

General information

The floor plan of King Yin Lei(Image from Leisure and Culture Service Department)
The sketch map of first floor (Image from Leisure and Culture Service Department)
The sketch map of second floor (Image from Leisure and Culture Service Department)
The sketch map of third floor (Image from Leisure and Culture Service Department)


King Yin Lei sits on a 50,650 square feet (4,706m2) site which includes a main building, an annex block, a garage, a subsidiary building, a pavilion, a swimming pool, etc. Regarding the Chinese Fung Shui idea “the purple qi coming from the east” (紫氣東來), the complex was built slightly to the east, in addition to situated in hillside and facing the sea, it sets a perfect Fung Shui layout as a whole.


The swimming pool of King Yin Lei
The pavilion



The whole setting of the site is divided into two parts, separated by a boundary wall. The front part, which also named as the “inner residence” (內宅) consists of the main building, the annex block, the garage, the subsidiary building and the fore courtyard. On the other hand, the rear part includes the pavilion, the garden and the swimming pool, which traditionally named as the “outer yard” (外院). Owing to Hong Kong as an agricultural society when the building was built, there is a “cage area” (家禽區) on the left of the front portion to keep the birds as well as the dog of the mansion’s first owner.

Main building - inner residence

The main building of the inner residence follows the traditional Southern China layout “three-storey two-veranda”(三合院式). This classic layout contains one main building with two wings on the sides facing south, in order to let more sunshine going into the building, a screen wall was built at the south of the open area to form an internal courtyard (天井). Yet, the layout is not completely following the traditional courtyard houses, the wings are slightly titled away from the main building so that the main entrance chamber is enlarged. This layout makes a fusion between the “three-storey two veranda” layout and also an upper-class residence which set a pavilion in front of the main hall.

Annex block

The Annex Block

As for the annex block, there are two storeys with a number of rooms parallel to each other and connected by a veranda. This design in annex block shows the simplicity of modern residential designs in early years compared to those traditional ones. In order to separate the living areas of the owners and the servants of the mansion, the second floor of the main building and the annex block are connected by a kitchen and a passageway, which is a good practice to let the masters enjoy their privacy, and at the same time they can also enjoy the services of the servants in a short period of time. There are some more intelligent ideas, for example, a food hatch is set between the kitchen on the first floor and the dining hall in the main building as to deliver the dishes faster.

Other components

The two-storey garage’s roof is a classical Chinese luding roof, a four-sloped roof with a flat central portion). The first floor is for car parking and the second floor is for residential use.


The single-storey subsidiary building is about 20 metres long and connected by corridors to the square shape pavilions at both sides. Its roof is classical Chinese pyramidal roof in quadrangular shape.


The one-storey pavilion has two entrances and a traditional Chinese double-eaved pyramidal roof in hexagonal shape.


Since the Mid-Levels used to be the residential area of wealthy people in Hong Kong, the mansion has a strict security design. There was a secret compartment on the second floor of the east wing of the main building. Surrounded by four walls, the safe room has an en entrance on the eastern wall and a secure safe door. There are also some tiny holes for ventilation. It can see that the property of the owner can be highly protected [1]

Artistic Value

The railings with a mixture of eastern and western culture


The artistic value of King Yin Lei is twofold, both architectural style and craftsmanship of the house. King Yin Lei, as mentioned before, is a rarity because it is in style of “predominantly Chinese with Chinese and Western elements nicely combined” (中西結合,以中為主). It can be seen in the roof and the bricks of King Yin Lei. It uses green-glazed tiles which represent the traditional Chinese style, but on the other hand, the external walls made by red bricks represented the western architectural design.


Besides, the simplified version of ridge-end ornaments, immortals and running animals represents a style of Qing dynasty imperial buildings. The design concept of “style rather than layout” which emphases on style more than the delicate appearance follows the rules of traditional Chinese aesthetic value.



Decorations, Design and Damages

Floor

Main Building

Main Building
Location Design Damage Status Current Condition
1st floor Main Hall white marble, with a black-and-white Swastika pattern on the periphery Serious the flooring has been fully damaged. A large proportion of marble in the passageway has been destroyed.
Western round chamber and eastern room paved with large pieces of white mosaics in an arc-shaped radiation pattern. Serious the flooring with large pieces of white mosaics laid in an arc-shaped radiation pattern has been entirely destroyed.
Chambers and rooms of two wings paving wood parquet tiles Light small proportion of the flooring made of wood parquet tiles has been destroyed.
Bathroom modern marble and pink tiles Moderate the flooring with tiles has remained intact
Outer veranda coloured by small square mosaics Serious the flooring with small coloured square mosaics has enormously been destroyed.
Entrance hall and Kitchen formed with small white hexagonal mosaics Light still formed with small white hexagonal mosaics
2nd floor All chambers and rooms paved by small pieces of wood Light a small proportion of the wooden parquet flooring has been damaged
Veranda and Balcony coloured by small square mosaics Serious the flooring with coloured small square mosaics, has been removed completely,except a 2-square-metre area at the balcony
East Bathroom the flooring was originally replaced by some modern marble / /
West Bathroom formed by pink tiles Light the flooring with pink tiles has remained intact
Entrance hall formed with red and white octagonal cement bricks Serious completely removed
Kitchen formed with small white hexagonal mosaics Serious completely removed
3rd floor Central chamber and rear veranda paved with small white hexagonal mosaics Serious fully destroyed
Rooms on the two sides and Front balcony paved with Canton tiles Light kept intact


The second level of main building


Others

Others
Location Design Damage Status Current Condition
Annex Block First and Second level of the Passageway formed by red and white octagonal cement bricks Serious fully broken into pieces
Rooms and Veranda formed by red and white octagonal cement bricks Serious fully broken
Subsidiary building and Pavilion / paved with small coloured mosaics in grid pattern Serious Entirely removed
1st floor of Garage / placed by plain cement Serious fully removed


Windows

Windows
Types Damage Status Current Condition
Triple windows Serious Entirely damaged
Double windows Serious Entirely damaged
Single windows Serious Entirely damaged


The window frame
The window frame


Doors

Doors
Types Description Damage Status Current Condition
Entrance Door Triple-door design – a outward-opening lattice door made of iron with rivets arranged in the Chinese character ““壽” (longevity), an iron sliding door fitted inside the wall in the middle and a set of wooden doors that opens inwards. Serious All the three layers of the door have been removed
Doors of the main building Double doors – opens outwards to the veranda. The inner door is a stained glass door in iron frame. Outer door – split sliding gate fitted inside the wall. Moderate The inner doors have all been damaged. But the only one iron frame has been damaged.

Walls

Walls
Location Description Damage Status Current Condition
External Walls Made of red fair-faced polished brickwork Light No damages
Outer veranda furnished with plaster mouldings at the wall eaves and granite dados Moderate The plaster mouldings have been removed, yet the granite dados remains intact
Inner wall plastered white, with wooden picture rails at the top and

wooden skirting at the bottom

Moderate basically undamaged but the pictures have been removed, the skirting remains intact
Main hall – wall eaves plastered with mouldings Serious fully removed



The external wall













Roof and Ridge

Roof and Ridge
Location Description Damage Status Current Condition
Whole Roof Surface Covered with green glazed pan tiles and roll tiles, ridge-end ornaments, pearl, porcelain figurines of immortals and mythical animals in simple form Serious All destroyed
Main ridge
Gable ridge



The Chinese decoration at Roof and Ridges
The Chinese decoration at Ridges


Columns

Columns
Location Description Damage Status Current Condition
Columns Made of pale yellowish-brown terrazzo Light keep intact
Cantilever purlins
Corner beams Serious All smashed
Chinese bracket

[2]

Controversy Dispute

Mrs. Carrie Lam, the Secretary for Development of Development Bureau.(Photo from: google images)
The Peak Tram.(Photo from: google images)
The peak tower.(Photo from: google images)



July, 2007

An unknown person paid $4.3 billion to buy King Yin Lei. [3]


September, 2007

The construction work of King Yin Lei started, and some people transported more than two hundred decorations from it. [4]


14 September, 2007

The Antiquities Advisory Board raised a special conference, listing King Yin Lei as a temporary heritage urgently, requesting the construction workers to stop their work.


15 September, 2007

The Hong Kong Government officially admitted King Yin Lei as a proposed monuments, the officers of the Antiquities and Monument office of the Leisure and Cultural Service Department went to King Yin Lei and asked the workers to stop their work. [5][6]


20 September, 2007

The Secretary for Development, Mrs. Carrie Lam, of the Development Bureau admitted that they had received a letter from the owner of King Yin Lei on April, requesting conservation of King Yin Lei. Yet, the officers of Development Bureau ignored the incident because of the lack of sensibility. [7] [8]


25 January, 2008

The Antiquities Advisory Board has approved the whole site of King Yin Lei as a Declared Monument. Mrs. Carrie Lam admitted that they had make an agreement with the owner of King Yin Lei for exchanging lands.[9] Yet, the owner has to bear all the reconstruction fee and other expenses.[10] It was claimed that the mansion would be restored by 2009, yet it is still not opened to the public until now.[11] Nevertheless, as some experts from Mainland suggested that the mansion can be restored to 80%, thus the delicate construction may cause its delay in restoration.[12]


25 April, 2008

The Town Planning Board amend the approved The Peak Area Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) to facilitate preservation of King Yin Lei at 45 Stubbs Road. The nearby area of King Yin Lei has been restricted to have only 3 storey building, with 0.5 times plot.[13] [14]


11 July, 2008

King Yin Lei has been approved to be a Declared Monument officially. [15]


September, 2008

The phrase one of reconstruction work has been started.


December 2008

The Conservancy Association(長春社) recommend to the Town Planning Board that the site of King Yin Lei should be changed from residential area to historical heritage. [16]


12 December 2008

The Draft Peak Area Outline Zoning Plan has been approved by the government. It covers a 900 hectares area and bounded by Stubbs Road and Wong Nai Chung Gap Road and Deep Water Bay Road as these area consists of some popular tourist spots like the Peak Tram, the Peak Tower, at the same time, it is also a high-class low-density residential area. [17]

Transport Connections

Geographical information

A bird-eye's view of King Yin Lei (Circled in red) [18](Source: Google Maps Hong Kong)

Traffic

Bus

New World First Bus

No. 15

No. 15B (Only available on Sunday and public holiday)

Get off at Evergreen Villa, Stubbs Road


Stubbs Road


The "Evergreen Villa" stop at Stubbs Road


The view from the bus stop



















The nearest bus stop (Indicated by yellow box) and King Yin Lei (Circled in red) [18](Source: Google Maps Hong Kong)



Green Maxi Cap 1 Central (Hong Kong Station Public Transport Interchange) - The Peak (Public Transport Terminus)



References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Leisure and Cultural Development Department, Summary of the Report on Site Investigation and Restoration Options
  2. Leisure and Cultural Development Department, http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Monument/form/King_Yin_Lei.pdf
  3. South China Morning Post 2007-09-19 Sale documents indicate tycoon bought mansion
  4. [Hong Kong Economic Times2007-09-21 破壞嚴重 雕花琉璃瓦頂不見了
  5. Development Department Speeches by Secretary for Development and Chairman of Antiquities Advisory Board
  6. Hong Kong Commercial Newspaper 2007-09-16 港府刊憲景賢里全面停工
  7. South China Morning Post 2007-09-20 April plan to save mansion was ignored
  8. Apple Daily 2007-09-22 景賢里失救踩同事「唔夠敏銳」 林鄭月娥被轟意圖卸責
  9. South China Morning Post2008-02-23 Mansion owner to face land premium in swap 2008-01-26 Land swap seals mansion's future
  10. The Leisure and Culture Service Department Statement by SDEV after the meeting of the Antiquities Advisory Board
  11. The Standard 2008-01-25 King Yin Lei can be restored by 2009
  12. Sing Tao Daily 2008-01-10 Mainland expert: King Yin Lei can be restored to 80 percent of its original appearance
  13. The Town Planning BoardApproved The Peak Area Outline Zoning Plan amended
  14. Hong Kong Economic Times 2008-09-25 景賢里鄰地限建3層 保景觀
  15. Information Service Department King Yin Lei to be declared a monument
  16. Hong Kong Daily News 2007-12-15 長春社申請景賢里改用途
  17. Hong Kong Information Service DepartmentDraft The Peak Area Outline Zoning Plan approved
  18. 18.0 18.1 Google Maps Hong Kong

See also

External Links


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