When Old World Meets New Tech:
Archive Tong Lau with UAS 3D Modeling
Nos. 301 and 303 Castle Peak Road, one of the three remaining curved corner buildings in Hong Kong, has its irreplaceable historical value. Due to its eye-catching uniqueness and standing out from modern neighbouring blocks, “The Building” has become a landmark to the residents and visitors in the area.
There are only a few Pre-war curved corner Tong Lau remaining in our city because of urban renewal. They are very fragile and will barely survive facing the bulldozer. Although its irreplaceable value contains a collective attachment in Hong Kong, it is difficult to preserve, reconstruct or revitalise. Historic preservation may not be the heart of city development, but it is to us, and we can at least do it in a digital way.
With the 3D model generated from UAS, The Building can be preserved and survived as a reminder of Hong Kong history, particularly representing the rapid growth commercial development of Sham Shui Po and New Kowloon.
“The Building” is 3 storeys high and was built in 1933. George W. Grey (1878 – 1954) was the architect of the Building. This Art Deco-influenced building is a typical shophouse of the 1930s and follows the significance of Hong Kong tenement houses. While the top floor was used as residential housing, the lower floor was used for retail shops/restaurants. Over the years, the upper floors have been put to domestic and non-domestic uses, the lower floors have been a watch company, electrical shops, a grocery store and a Chinese Barbecue Restaurant. The Building now is one of few pre-war buildings with verandahs supported by piers that survived the Japanese Occupation (1941 – 1945).
The Building has been graded as Grade II by Antiquities Advisory Board and confirmed on 13 Jun 2019. According to the 2019 interim report of Regal Hotels International Holdings, the company owns 100% of the property. In 2020, Paliburg Holdings Limited was negotiating conservation plans with relevant government departments, considered obtaining compensation for the development plan while preserving the building.
Many privately-owned historic buildings have been demolished before they are graded. Even graded by AAB, tenement buildings are still facing the possibility of being torn down. In 2015, Graded III Tung Tak Pawn Shop (同德大押) was demolished to reconstruct as a commercial skyscraper, which was the same type of corner building as Nos. 301 and 303 Castle Peak Road. It may have the same destiny of Tung Tak Pawn Shop
How 3D Modeling Helps
With capturing the GIS data, 3D digitization of the building provides the option of recreating replicas and accurate representations that can be put on display, demonstration and exhibition. A realistic virtual walkthrough or tour can be offered for promotion, research study and education purposes.
With 3D modeling, the 301, 303 Castle Peak Road can now be accessed with little details, including the architecture characteristic, and also basic information like height and depth.
Furthermore, 3D modeling brings new opportunities and possibilities to cultural conservation and further development. 3D modeling allows an interactive and comprehensive way to understand the building. Users can view the model with their preferences and swipe between every detail and overall layout.