Lau Sun-fo (劉新科) & George.W. Grey
23-47 Pak Tin Par Street, Tsuen Wan
Blocks 4-6 originally built in 1961-1970; adaptive reuse project 2014-2018
Between 2014 and 2018, Nan Fung Group undertook an Adaptive Reuse Project to bring new life to the its mid 20th-century factory buildings to what is known as The Mills today. The site is located in Tsuen Wan, an old industrial town that went through the heydays of Hong Kong’s textile manufacturing era in 1950-60s. Founded by Chen Din Wah in 1954, Nan Fung Textile Mills operated within the site as the international demand spurred the textile industry in Hong Kong. At one point, its factories employed as many as 200,000 ladies spinning the mills.
Leading into the latter half of the 20th century, the textile business tapered off and the factories were no longer put into use by the 2000s. Instead of putting the plot up for sale, however, Nan Fung decided to transform the infrastructural asset into a heritage and art centre and a hub for local textile innovators in the modern high-tech fashion generation. Many of the building’s structural elements were maintained, including its high-level windows, utilitarian blocks, some surviving iron gates, as well as a large mural of a cotton factory lady that used to be a local landmark. Its most dramatic shift surely lies in its current functional use as a modern retail, research, start-up office, and textile designer workshop and cultural event centre.
The project was well-received by the regional and global adaptive reuse advocates as it demonstrated a sustainable conservation practice that embraces an appreciation for its heritage while ultimately driving the next generation forward. It was the recipient of many awards including the Medal of the Year of Hong Kong and Heritage and Adaptive Reuse Award (2018-19) by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects as well as the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in the New Design in Heritage Contexts category.
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