Faitfone Wong, Hong Kong Engineering & Construction Company
20 Kadoorie Avenue, Mongkok, Kowloon
The Kadoorie Estate itself dates from 1931, when Hong Kong Engineering & Construction Co., a company controlled by the Kadoorie family, purchased a bare hillside bounded by Waterloo Road, Prince Edward Road, and Argyle Street in Kowloon for HK$326,000. The estate’s initial layout aimed to accommodate a mobile, car-owning tenancy. Each of the houses was expected to include a garage. The properties were also outfitted with the latest in luxury amenities, including air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms.
Construction commenced in 1933. By mid-1937, and in response to a growing influx of wealthy émigrés into Hong Kong fleeing the prospects of war in mainland China, three houses, a smaller bungalow, and six semi-detached houses were completed. During the eventual occupation of Hong Kong, however, the properties were used by Japanese forces. By 1945, thirty-eight houses were constructed. Wartime hostilities and severe looting of the estate left only twenty of the thirty-eight houses in habitable condition, however, and following the war, the Company undertook an extensive site development program, building forty-seven more homes between 1948 and 1964.
A comparison of Kadoorie Estate houses designed and built before and after the war reveals a shift towards high-end, premium quality property development in the city. The house at 20 Kadoorie was designed by the architect Faitfone Wong for the Company and completed in 1957. The house sits on a cut-back sloping site with the higher elevation at the back towards Argyle Street. As with all the other houses in the Estate, easy circulation from room to room was a key planning consideration. The building’s circular spatial arrangement distinguishes the house from its neighbors while underscoring its architect’s interest in projecting an efficient flow of space from one room into another. From the circular lobby, a curved flight of stairs leads to a hall that adjoins the sitting room, the largest of the circular spaces. The sitting room is connected to two other circular spaces – the dining room and breakfast room which are right above the lobby. A large verandah extends from the sitting and dining rooms and into a garden fronting Argyle Street at ground level.