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Shek Kip Mei Estate

Shek Kip Mei Estate

Overview
Shek Kip Mei Estate is the first public housing estate in Hong Kong
Public housing in Hong Kong
Public housing in Hong Kong is a set of mass housing programmes through which the Government of Hong Kong provides affordable housing for lower-income residents. It is a major component of housing in Hong Kong, with nearly half of the population now residing in some form of public housing...

. It is located in Sham Shui Po
Sham Shui Po
Sham Shui Po, or Shamshuipo, is an area of Sham Shui Po District, Hong Kong, situated in the northwestern part of the Kowloon Peninsula, north of Tai Kok Tsui, east of Cheung Sha Wan and south of Shek Kip Mei. Sham Shui Po is known for its street market for electronic devices.-History:Sham Shui Po...

 and is under the management of the Hong Kong Housing Authority
Hong Kong Housing Authority
The Hong Kong Housing Authority is the main provider of public housing in Hong Kong. It was established in 1973 under the Housing Ordinance and is an agency of the Government of Hong Kong...

. The estate was constructed as a result of a fire in Shek Kip Mei
Shek Kip Mei
Shek Kip Mei, originally known as Kap Shek Mi, is an area in New Kowloon, the North Eastern Kowloon Peninsula of Hong Kong.-History:A major fire on 25 December 1953, destroyed the Shek Kip Mei shantytown of immigrants from Mainland China that had fled to Hong Kong, leaving 53,000 people...

 in 1953, to settle the families of inhabitants in the squats over the hill who lost their homes in one night.

Originally constructed in 1953 to alleviate the immediate housing need, the units in this "Mark I" estate were utilitarian.
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Encyclopedia
Shek Kip Mei Estate is the first public housing estate in Hong Kong
Public housing in Hong Kong
Public housing in Hong Kong is a set of mass housing programmes through which the Government of Hong Kong provides affordable housing for lower-income residents. It is a major component of housing in Hong Kong, with nearly half of the population now residing in some form of public housing...

. It is located in Sham Shui Po
Sham Shui Po
Sham Shui Po, or Shamshuipo, is an area of Sham Shui Po District, Hong Kong, situated in the northwestern part of the Kowloon Peninsula, north of Tai Kok Tsui, east of Cheung Sha Wan and south of Shek Kip Mei. Sham Shui Po is known for its street market for electronic devices.-History:Sham Shui Po...

 and is under the management of the Hong Kong Housing Authority
Hong Kong Housing Authority
The Hong Kong Housing Authority is the main provider of public housing in Hong Kong. It was established in 1973 under the Housing Ordinance and is an agency of the Government of Hong Kong...

. The estate was constructed as a result of a fire in Shek Kip Mei
Shek Kip Mei
Shek Kip Mei, originally known as Kap Shek Mi, is an area in New Kowloon, the North Eastern Kowloon Peninsula of Hong Kong.-History:A major fire on 25 December 1953, destroyed the Shek Kip Mei shantytown of immigrants from Mainland China that had fled to Hong Kong, leaving 53,000 people...

 in 1953, to settle the families of inhabitants in the squats over the hill who lost their homes in one night.

Originally constructed in 1953 to alleviate the immediate housing need, the units in this "Mark I" estate were utilitarian. Redevelopment of the estate commenced in 1972, with new towers coming on stream between 1979 and 1982. Site 1 of redevelopment was occupied in 2007.

The estate now consists of 26 blocks, containing 7,363 units/flats of between 11.1 and 55.7 square metres in floor area. The estate has an authorised capacity of 13,900.

History


Following the Second World War, a large number of migrants from the mainland
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

 arrived in Hong Kong. Due to the lack of housing policy, and thus non-availability of affordable housing, the migrants lived illegally in wooden shanties
Shanty town
A shanty town is a slum settlement of impoverished people who live in improvised dwellings made from scrap materials: often plywood, corrugated metal and sheets of plastic...

 in a hillside ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

 in the Sham Shui Po
Sham Shui Po
Sham Shui Po, or Shamshuipo, is an area of Sham Shui Po District, Hong Kong, situated in the northwestern part of the Kowloon Peninsula, north of Tai Kok Tsui, east of Cheung Sha Wan and south of Shek Kip Mei. Sham Shui Po is known for its street market for electronic devices.-History:Sham Shui Po...

 area. Poor facilities, insanitary conditions, the high density of huts represented a serious safety hazard. On 24 December 1953, the ghetto caught fire. The blaze lasted for six hours and was put under control on 25 December, at around 2:30 am. It left an estimated 53,000 people without shelter.

Consequently, the Colonial government
Colonial Hong Kong
In the 19th century the British, Dutch, French, Indians and Americans saw Imperial China as the world's largest untapped market. In 1840 the British Empire launched their first and one of the most aggressive expeditionary forces to claim the territory that would later be known as Hong Kong.In a few...

 built a 29-block resettlement estate on the site of the burnt-down shanties to house the homeless victims. Eight blocks (Blocks A to H), now renumbered as Blocks 10 through 13 and 35 through to 41, were constructed with the financial aid of the United Nations. These 7 storey blocks were constructed in an 'H' configuration consisting of 2 residential wings, with communal sanitary facilities linking them. Later towers were constructed with the single block configuration.

The massive fire gave birth formally to the public housing policy of the Government. In 1961, the subsidised rent policy was launched with the construction of 7 towers at the junction of Tai Hang Road West and Nam Cheong Street. The Shek Kip Mei Estate was subdivided into "Upper" and "Lower" estates, with the Upper estate being designated a "low-rent estate" (廉租屋邨), and the Lower estate was designated a "Resettlement estate" (徙置屋邨). Occupation of these blocks commenced in 1963.

Housing units were little more than small cubicles, and the original plan was to allocate 24 square feet (2.2 m²) per adult and half that for each child under 12. However, they were in reality often occupied by more than one family due to the extreme shortage of available housing. Facilities and sanitation were primitive, and communal.

Until the establishment of the Housing Authority in 1973, Hong Kong's public housing was administered by the Resettlement Department. By that time, eleven old blocks of the estate had been pulled down, and modernisation of 18 blocks of the resettlement estate had commenced. Phased re-occupation of the re-numbered estate took place between 1978 and 1984. The distinction between "Upper" and "Lower" estates ceased to exist henceforth. Mei Yu House (美如樓) and Mei Ying House (美映樓) representing the latest phase, was built on the location of Blocks 1 – 7 (the resettlement estate), and was mostly occupied on 18 July 2006.

All remaining 1950's blocks were demolished since 20 June 2007, excluding Block 41, which is reserved for further revitalization.

Conservation


Block 41 of the estate, Mei Ho House (美荷樓), the last remaining example of the "Mark II" building in a single-block configuration, has been listed as a Grade I historic building, and will be preserved tentatively as a record of Hong Kong's public housing development. In 2008, it was part of the seven buildings of Batch I of the Hong Kong Government's Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme
Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme
The Revitalising Historic Buildings through Partnership Scheme is an initiative launched by the Hong Kong Government, part of a broader policy of Heritage conservation in Hong Kong....

 seeking adaptive reuse
Adaptive reuse
Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for. Along with brownfield reclamation, adaptive reuse is seen by many as a key factor in land conservation and the reduction of urban sprawl...

 of government-owned historic buildings. On 17 February 2009, the government declared that the building will be used by the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association as "City Hostel". The capital cost of the project is estimated at HK$192.3 million. Estimated completion time is early 2012.

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