Conversion of Chai Wan Factory Estate to Public Rental Housing

Residential / 2021

Conversion of Chai Wan Factory Estate to Public Rental Housing

December 10, 2021
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An adaptive reuse of heritage

The historical Chai Wan Factory Estate (CWFE), which was granted Grade II Historic Building status by the Antiquities Advisory Board, was converted into the public rental housing called Wah Ha Estate. The conversion was announced in 2012 to increase and expedite the short-term public housing supply, and it was completed in June 2016, providing 187 flats on five domestic storeys.

Conserving heritage

CWFE was constructed in June 1959. It is the last H-shaped factory building in Hong Kong, with an area of 0.4 hectares, located in close proximity to the MTR station. With the purpose of enhancing public awareness of heritage conservation and sustainable housing development, the existing industrial building was retained for adaptive redevelopment.

The conversion proved to be a challenging task throughout the whole planning, design and construction process, due to considerations of safety and structural stability, health and environmental issues, as well as the compliance of statutory requirements. Building clearance was required before the commencement of actual construction works, during which a large number of artefacts were salvaged. Existing floor slabs were tested and verified that the retained structure and materials can fulfil the latest fire safety requirements.

As the test results were satisfactory, the original appearance of the building with about 70 percent of the building structure can be retained, which significantly reduced the demolition and reconstruction of floor slabs, and thus building materials, energy consumption and carbon emissions in the construction process. Soil decontamination was carried out before the construction works started in order to ensure that future tenants of the estate can live or operate their business in a safe environment, and free from potential health risks arising from contaminated land.

A number of ‘character defining elements’ have also been retained, including the H-shaped building form; strong horizontal lines formed by the balconies and slabs; paint characters and floor loading capacity; ramps with concrete grilles; and chimneys stacks.

Thoughtful building design

The building block was carefully redesigned to suit the needs of public rental households and communities. Its industrial building form gave rise to a floor plan that is varied enough to suit the intended use and scale of the occupants. During the conversion, each floor was redesigned and modified into domestic flats to fully utilise the floor space in the building.

Protecting the environment

Other than saving a large amount of construction materials by retaining most of the original structure, the estate was also modelled to be 46 percent more energy efficient than the specification of Electrical and Mechanical Services Department’s performance-based Building Energy Code. Passive design features have been adopted, such as additional light wells to enhance natural ventilation and capture daylight for the flats.

There is extensive landscaping with over 40 percent greening ratio to create a comfortable environment as well as a green lung within the congested industrial area. Rainwater harvesting system, together with a drip irrigation system, was installed to collect rainwater for irrigation, and has been projected to save over 50 percent of irrigation water annually. Eco-friendly recycled block pavers have also been installed at the external areas.

Interaction with the community

The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) adopts a people-oriented approach in the delivery of development projects. It invited the ex-tenants and stakeholders to join community engagement workshops, and incorporated their views and memories in the design process. In particular, a display area was set up to display the salvaged artefacts, which included movable type printing machine and wardrobes; wooden carved chests; furniture; toys; daily supplies company signage; etc.

The ground floor of the building is now being used to provide courtyard, commercial, car parking and estate management facilities to satisfy the daily needs of the tenants as well as to blend the building into the neighbourhood.


Project Name
Conversion of Chai Wan Factory Estate to Public Rental Housing

2 Kut Shing Street, Chai Wan, Hong Kong

Completion Date
8 July 2016

Site Area
About 4,000 square metres

Gross Floor Area
About 12,500 square metres

Number of Rooms

Building Height
About 19 metres

Hong Kong Housing Authority

Architecture Firm
Housing Department, HKSAR Government

Principal Architect
Ada Y.S. Fung

Main Contractor
Yau Lee Construction Company Limited

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
Housing Department, HKSAR Government

Civil & Structural Engineer
Housing Department, HKSAR Government

Housing Department, HKSAR Government

This is an excerpt from the May-June 2017 issue of FuturArc. To read the magazine in full, order it from our shop!
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