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Design DNA of Mark I: Hong Kong's Public Housing Prototype


Dr Rosman C.C. Wai, the author


Dr Lee Ho Yin, Associate Professor, Head of Architectural Conservation Programmes,
Faculty of Architecture, HKU


22 September 2020 (Tuesday)


6:30 - 8:00 pm


2/F Multi-purpose Area, Main Library, HKU






About the Talk

Overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions had been chronic problems in Hong Kong since the mid-19th and well into the mid-20th century. The conflagration in Shek Kip Mei on Christmas Day 1953 triggered Hong Kong’s internationally-renowned public housing programmes which provided an almost miraculous solution to a desperate situation. Within the first year after the tragic blaze, eight six-story Mark I resettlement blocks, with 64 back-to-back single-room units per floor surrounded by balcony access, were erected on the fire-ravaged site. Intriguingly, the design bore no resemblance to any Hong Kong domestic building typologies that prevailed at that time, including Tong Lau and Composite Buildings. What were the design origins of the Mark I Blocks? Why were these designs adopted?


About the Speaker

Photo of Dr Rosman C.C. Wai

Dr Rosman C.C. Wai is a lecturer in the Architectural Conservation Programmes, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong. She is a registered architect and has worked in the Housing Department for many years. She furthered her Master degree studies in architectural conservation (with Distinction), and Doctor of Philosophy studies in The University of Hong Kong. Her research interest is on public housing and relating to the topic, she has published many articles and has been interviewed by various newspapers, television and radio stations as well as given talks and lectures in many local and international conferences and universities.


About the Book

Book Cover of Design DNA of Mark I

The book Design DNA of Mark I: Hong Kong’s Public Housing Prototype is written and crafted like a detective story, using in-depth archival research to identify possible causal factors that contributed to the design of the Mark I resettlement blocks. It reveals intriguing findings in the architectural origins of the Mark I Block which was a fusion of the British socio-cultural concept of low-income housing and traditional living preferences in Hong Kong. The book includes the personal interview story of the chief architect of the Mark I Block of Hong Kong public housing. It is well-researched and well-illustrated with more than 100 photos, architectural drawings and sketches. Bilingual in English and Chinese, the book aims to be informative and educational, but at the same time, avoids using architectural jargon and technical terminology.


About the Moderators

Moderator: Dr. Lee Ho Yin

Dr. Lee Ho Yin co-founded the postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in architectural conservation at the University of Hong Kong and he is the Founding Head of the Division of Architectural Conservation Programmes. A well-published academic and an experienced practitioner in built-heritage conservation, he has been appointed by government agencies in Hong Kong, Mainland China and overseas as an expert advisor or a consultant for conservation projects and the designation and monitoring of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2017, he was cited in the award certificate for the highest UNESCO  conservation award for the “Blue House Cluster” revitalization project.