Sai Ying Pun Community Complex

The Sai Ying Pun Community Complex, once a training quarters for European nurses of the Civil Hospital and also serving as a mental hospital after World War II, the building was long known for its century-long existence in Hong Kong. First established in 1892, when western medical care started to gain recognition and popularity in British Hong Kong, the building served as a dormitory for training foreign nurses and to promote western medicine (Antiquities and Monuments Office, 2009, p. 97). It was not until after the war that the building was converted into a mental hospital. The truly brutal era overwhelmed Hong Kong with both physically and mentally-ill patients, and this mental hospital served as the only one of its type in the city until the Castle Peak Mental Hospital was founded in 1961 (Lo, 2003). The instantaneous transition of its function resembles the government’s precipitous reaction to the inhumane era of world history.

Its rare architectural style, Early Baroque, resembles the extravagance of the Catholic Church during late sixteenth-century Italy (Sai Ying Pun Community Complex, n.d.). With its rather unique theatrical design, the Complex was declared a Grade I Historic Building. However, taking a walk around the building today, only the old-fashioned granite facade and arched verandah remain as corollary of disrepair and conflagration during its 20 years of vacancy since the 1970s (AMO, 2009, p. 97). Undergoing transitional phases, the physical structure of the building resembles the memories that reflect Hong Kong’s evolutionary development.

Despite facing challenges, the Sai Ying Pun Community Complex is known for its historical social importance and as a landmark in the Western district. Moreover, the unoccupied years highlights a strong need for proper preservation and recognition as built heritage. Nonetheless, the building has kept its unchanging function in serving the community with facilities such as an education training centre, elderly homes, etc, which continue to revitalise the neighbourhood.

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