Hong Kong Asia's World City

Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution

Uncover new artistic talent that’s emerging in Hong Kong’s old manufacturing districts

A new generation of artistic talent is finding inspiration in Hong Kong’s industrial past as a manufacturing hub. Below is an introduction to the city’s cultural and economic achievements from the 1950s to today, with a glimpse into its creative future. We also put the spotlight on the districts of Kwun Tong and Kwai Tsing, which serve as perfect examples of how the city’s industrial heritage is being reinvented by a new, creative generation.

Strolling through downtown Hong Kong today, as skyscrapers fight for space along a skyline that is famous the world over, it’s worth taking some time to consider the hard work it took for this vibrant modern city to achieve its current global status. Although Hong Kong is now primarily a service-based economy, it was once one of the foremost manufacturing hubs of Asia and without the city’s incredible industrial development which began in the late 1950s, 21st century Hong Kong would look very different today. You can still see evidence of the city’s industrial past in its outer districts.

Hong Kong’s manufacturing industry took off drastically after the Second World War, in part due to an influx of Chinese merchants from across the border. From the 1950s and for the following four decades, Hong Kong was a powerhouse for the production of textiles, garments, shoes, plastics and metals – in fact the city would turn its hand to anything. By 1976 more than 40 percent of the population worked in the manufacturing sector and this changed the face of many of Hong Kong’s districts.

YY9 Gallery

Living examples of the city’s industrial heritage can be found in Quarry Bay and Chai Wan, on the east of Hong Kong Island. Industrial buildings that shot up along the rapidly expanding waterfront in the mid-70s are now home to an interesting collection of galleries, exhibition spaces, workshops and art collaborations worth visiting. Stop by YY9 Gallery, where you can find painting, photography, ceramics or sculptures from both emerging and renowned local artists. If you’re into photography, browse through the selection of specialty books at the Asia One Photo Book Center, run by one of the region’s most well-known art book publishers, Asia One. They’ve also launched the Vertical Art Space, a funky exhibition of art that occupies 10 floors of a stairwell—spiral your way upstairs (or down) and admire the pieces strung along the walls and landings. A great time to visit the area is during Chai Wan Mei, an annual event (usually in May) where an impressive array of the local art galleries opens up to the public with special exhibitions. Plus in recent years, both Art Basel and the Hong Kong International Art Fair have put on events in this developing artistic community.

The Factory

Behind Aberdeen marina in the Southern District, Wong Chuk Hang is also undergoing a makeover. Spacious warehouse buildings that were once factories are now inhabited by up-and-coming artists, design studios and exhibition spaces. Guide yourself through an artistic tour of the neighborhood, popping in and out of these old factories at whim; ride a large cargo lift to a nondescript floor and you’ll emerge into a high-ceilinged, reimagined creative space. Most are based along Wong Chuk Hang Road: try Blindspot Gallery, a contemporary photography gallery featuring established and emerging artists from the region and beyond. Several doors up is Casa Capriz, a treasure trove of vintage and design pieces, which shares a floor with The Butchers Club Deli—this is a good spot to stop for a taste of some handmade charcuterie and specialty dry aged beef. Spring Workshop is another original concept—open to the public as a permanent exhibition with regular art workshops, it also offers residency to artists-in-working. While you’re in the area, take a minute to admire the penmanship on the brickwork of The Factory next door, which features a clever strip cartoon painted by renowned Italian comic artist Mauro Marchesi.

These areas of Hong Kong may have come from humble beginnings, but they have been constantly undergoing transformation since the 1950s. Through an industrial revolution and into a creative revolution, these unique, mosaicked corners of the city bear witness to Hong Kong’s socio-economic past, present and future.

Get Going

  • YY9 Gallery
    YY9 Gallery
    A member of 2B SQUARE, the gallery is an outlet for contemporary art by emerging and renowned local artists.
    Address:
    Unit 1702, Eastern Harbour Centre, 28 Hoi Chak Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2574 3730
    How to Get There:
    MTR Quarry Bay Station, Exit C. Walk along Model Lane and reach King's Road. Cross King's Road and walk East until Java Road Playground. Walk through the playground and take a left onto Hoi Chak Street. It's about a 5-minute walk.
  • Asia One Photo Book Center & Vertical Art Space
    Asia One Photo Book Center & Vertical Art Space
    A specialty photography bookstore from art book publishers Asia One, plus an unusual 10-floor vertical gallery.
    Address:
    1-14/F Asia One Tower, 8 Fung Yip Street, Chai Wan, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2976 0913
    How to Get There:
    MTR Chai Wan Station, Exit C. Take the footbridge across the Island Eastern Corridor into Chai Wan Park and walk along Chai Wan Road towards the harbor. Follow Chai Wan Road to the right and turn left on Sheung On Street. Then take a right onto Fung Yip Street. It’s about a 20-minute walk.
  • Blindspot Gallery
    Blindspot Gallery
    A contemporary photography gallery featuring established and emerging artists from the region and beyond.
    Address:
    15/F Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2517 6238
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 38 from Causeway Bay (Hysan Place; 30-minute journey) or bus 70 from Central (Exchange Square; 40-minute journey), alighting at Wong Chuk Hang Road.
  • Casa Capriz
    Casa Capriz
    A treasure trove of vintage and design pieces, Irene Capriz specializes in hard-to-find collector items and home accessories.
    Address:
    16/F Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 9318 1730
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 38 from Causeway Bay (Hysan Place; 30-minute journey) or bus 70 from Central (Exchange Square; 40-minute journey), alighting at Wong Chuk Hang Road.
  • The Butchers Club Deli
    The Butchers Club Deli
    A hip New-York style deli specializing in handcrafted charcuterie made with natural and organic ingredients.
    Address:
    16/F Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2884 0768
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 38 from Causeway Bay (Hysan Place; 30-minute journey) or bus 70 from Central (Exchange Square; 40-minute journey), alighting at Wong Chuk Hang Road.
  • Spring Workshop
    Spring Workshop
    A not-for-profit venture featuring exhibitions, workshops and an artistic space for visitors to explore.
    Address:
    3/F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2110 4370
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 38 from Causeway Bay (Hysan Place; 30-minute journey) or bus 70 from Central (Exchange Square; 40-minute journey), alighting at Wong Chuk Hang Road.
  • The Factory
    The Factory
    The building’s exterior (and some interior) walls are covered in cartoons by Italian comic artist Mauro Marchesi.
    Address:
    1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 38 from Causeway Bay (Hysan Place; 30-minute journey) or bus 70 from Central (Exchange Square; 40-minute journey), alighting at Wong Chuk Hang Road. Turn onto Nam Long Shan Road and take a left on Heung Yip Road. Walk a few minutes until the junction with Yip Fat Street.

Industrial Revolution ‘Musts’

  • Yallay Gallery
    Discover Middle-Eastern art
    Yallay Gallery
    Yallay Gallery has achieved notoriety in the art world thanks to its highly-respected founding duo: Jean Marc Decrop, appointed expert in Chinese Art at the French National Chamber of Experts; and Fabio Rossi of London-based Rossi & Rossi, one of the world’s leading dealers in classical Himalayan and contemporary Asian art. This 600-square-foot gallery was among the first in Asia to exhibit contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish artists. It also provides a platform for regional Asian artists.
    Address:
    Unit 3C, Yally Building, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 3575 9417
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 38 from Causeway Bay (Hysan Place; 30-minute journey) or bus 70 from Central (Exchange Square; 40-minute journey), alighting at Wong Chuk Hang Road. Turn onto Nam Long Shan Road and take a left on Heung Yip Road and left again onto Yip Fat Street.
  • 3812 Contemporary Art Projects
    Admire modern art
    3812 Contemporary Art Projects
    The 3812 Contemporary Art Project is tucked away inside a dilapidated factory building in Wong Chuk Hang but the vision for the gallery was inspired far, far away: 3,812 meters above sea level in fact, atop the infamous Vallée Blanche in Chamonix, France. Co-founder Mark Peaker’s passion for art shows on the walls of his spacious gallery: its combination of four halls hosts interesting large-scale contemporary exhibitions for new and emerging Chinese artists.
    Address:
    10/F, 12 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2153 3812
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 38 from Causeway Bay (Hysan Place; 30-minute journey) or bus 70 from Central (Exchange Square; 40-minute journey), alighting at Wong Chuk Hang Road.
  • HK Farm
    Visit a farm
    HK Farm
    A verdant oasis in a desert of concrete, HK Farm is a 4,000-square-foot farm on a rooftop of an industrial building in Ngau Tau Kok. This vertical garden was the brainchild of a group of passionate Hongkongers made up of farmers, designers and artists who wanted to create a working farm in the city that produces its own food (think herbs, tomatoes, string beans). It offers tours and a variety of workshops on bag making, planter making and even beekeeping.
    Address:
    Rooftop, Easy Industrial Building, 140 Wai Yip Street, Ngau Tau Kok, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 6447 5740
    Website:
    How to Get There:
    MTR Ngau Tau Kok Station, Exit B6. Walk along Lai Yip Street and turn left on Wai Yip Street. It’s about a 10-minute walk.
  • Latitude22n
    Shop for ceramics
    Latitude22n
    Latitude22n is a funky studio and showroom-slash-shop which was set up in 2008 by designer/artist pair Julie Progin and Jess Mc Lin. The Julie & Jessie label produces unique, limited edition ceramics. Make an appointment to visit the friendly team’s shop, which features collections of bright-colored dinnerware, lighting, home décor and accessories. The signature pendant lamps are easy on the eye, or if you’d rather a one-off piece, they do bespoke designs. Check their website for information on their exhibitions.
    Address:
    Unit 16B, Man Foong Industrial Building, 7 Cheung Lee Street, Chai Wan, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2480 1182
    How to Get There:
    MTR Chai Wan Station, Exit C. Walk along Kut Shing Street for two minutes and turn right onto Cheung Lee Street.
  • Sealing Stone DIY Studio
    Learn a traditional craft
    Sealing Stone DIY Studio
    In an effort to promote traditional Chinese handicrafts, local artist Kady Fung founded the Sealing Stone DIY Studio in 2011. You can take a number of workshops that use traditional crafts: learn seal engraving, how to make portrait stamps, or manufacture resin jewelry and accessories with wire. If Fung’s regular schedule doesn’t jive with yours, you can also book a special daytime class for a minimum of two people.
    Address:
    4B, Ka Wing Factory Building, 19-21 Ng Fong Street, San Po Kong, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 3990 9589
    How to Get There:
    MTR Diamond Hill Station, Exit A2. Enter the subway and walk towards Choi Hung Road. Take right on exit and walk along Choi Hung Road. Turn left at the first block on Tai Yau Street. Ng Fong Street is on the left. It’s about a 10-minute walk.

This guide was produced by HK Magazine Media Group from 2014-2015.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

Information in this guide is subject to changes without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this guide, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and HK Magazine accept no responsibility for any obsolescence, errors or omissions contained herein.

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