Here’s another example of Chinatown’s subtle change. The 1981 image shows two buildings from the 1970s, using a ‘Chinese’ style of architecture with glazed clay tiles that were never a feature of any of the heritage buildings in the area. The taller building to the east was designed with recessed balconies that pick up some references to the older buildings in the area, and was designed by Urban Design Group Architects and completed in 1978. The balconies were originally only found on the Association buildings and were wrongly assumed to be a general design character to be encouraged in new buildings to ensure the “Chinese character” of the area.
The uses show how Chinatown has changed – this started life as a branch of the Royal Bank, the name over the door today is for Ng Fung Enterprises, food suppliers who used to operate a Chinese food store here but today it’s actually a warehouse space for some of the low-cost Chinese clothing establishments in the area, with the store front replaced with a shutter door. Next door in 1981 was Tai Hing, an import-export company (mostly selling food), and 34 years later they’re still in business at the same location. That can’t be said for the Sam Lock restaurant upstairs; today it’s a vacant space looking for a tenant, having changed names several times since Sam Lock closed its doors.
Image source: Peter B Clibbon