Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lower Ngau Tau Kok (II) Estate populous to silent


Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, located in Kwun Tong, the Eastern Kowloon Peninsula of Hong Kong, closed to the Kowloon Bay MTR station, between the seaside Kwun Tong Road and hillside Ngau Tau Kok Road.

New Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate is being built next to the block 9
The New Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate is being built next to the block 9

A fire on 25 December 1953 in Sham Shui Po Shek Kip Mei Estate made 53000 refugees became homeless. Hong Kong Government took immediately action to settle down the victims, by constructing the resettlement blocks (commonly known as the seven-story block building) in Shek Kip Mei. The Government later built these buildings in different districts. The Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate built between 1967-1969, was belong to the one of the resettlement areas. The Estate was formerly known as the Lower Ngau Tau Kok Village, was to provide shelter for residents in the clearance of natural disasters, fires, rooftop or hillside squatters.

Along with social progress, the 14 buildings in Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate were Type of 4, 5 resettlement blocks, with independent kitchen and toilet in each unit. Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, Block 1-7 belonged to zone 1, Block 8-14 was zone 2. Most buildings in zone 1 were Type 4, the zone two was Type 5 resettlement block, all buildings had 16 storeys. The number of flats in each building was varied, ranging from 24-77. Below 9th Floor were large and middle-sized rooms, which may accommodate 7 peoples or more. The 2-4 small rooms were located above the 9th Floor. Each flat was scattered at the two sides of the corridors which were wide and long. Likewise, each block was connected by long corridors, enhancing good neighborhood.

Hong Kong's economy was blooming during 60-70s. Family workshops in public housing estate had appeared in making hand-made products such as hair-piece and plastic flowers.  Early Resettlement Estates lacked elevators, the first estate to have such facilities was Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate which provided convenience to residents. Nevertheless, the elevators at lower floors stopped only at 8th Floor, while those in upper floors stopped only at 13th Floor. Due to this limitation, parents-workers still had to carry heavy and plant materials to home. These difficult old days would stay in their minds.

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate was the last resettlement state to be redeveloped in urban areas. Block 1-7 of Zone 1 was demolished in 2004, reconstructed in 2008 and completed in 2011. The new five tall buildings of Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate have been resided. Block 8-14 of Zone 2 started demolishing in October 2010, and completed site formation in February 2012. Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate renewal project involved about 4,100 families and 11,000 residents.  38% of these residents, approximately 1,500 households, were living alone and elderly couples. They were resettled in same district, and had been resided in Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate Phase II and III in year 2008-2009.

The preparations of Block 13 and 14 for the pre-demolition
The preparations of Block 13 and 14 for the pre-demolition

Block 8-12 in Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate was the first public housing estate to be built by prefabricated components in Hong Kong. Tiles, structural walls and floors etc were all prefabricated components. The prefabricated components were assembled piece by piece, and then formulated to a building block. The traditional locomotive or blasting concrete demolition cannot be adopted, otherwise the building structure would be affected and caused a domino collapse.

Small area of Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate had four to five primary schools, as well as the roof Primary School. In the Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate zone 2, St. Matthew's Primary School was next to Block 9, Bishop Paschang Catholic School was next to block 10, and St John Bosco School was in front of Block 11. Over the past 40 years, these schools had nurtured many students who gave contribution to the society. Before the estate clearance, schools had been moved to other areas.

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate has become the collective memories of the residents, while new communities have been formed. 554 of flats will be built in old Block 9 construction site. (Tentative name “Block 6”). The old block 13 and 14 will be used to construct the East Kowloon Community Cultural Center which will be a cultural landmark in East Kowloon. Under local demand for cultural facilities from Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon City, Tseung Kwan O and Sai Kung districts, the Center will provide a 1,200-seat auditorium, a 550-seat theater, and an outdoor park.


Lower Ngau Tau Kok (II) Estate

牛頭角下邨從喧囂到平靜Lower NTK Estate 2 demolition before and after

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