By HK URBEX.
This captivating haven of grime and decay is in fact located in a prime part of Hong Kong, with the value of the site estimated to be worth HK$13 billion.
The shuttered market, a Grade III historical structure, lies in the heart of the city in Central.
However, despite the key location, the existing structure on the site has been left vacant since 2003.
Having been left to the rot for over a decade, the building is now only populated by street pigeons, rats and skeletons of their counterparts.
Inside, the cacophonous echo of the bustling surrounding district outside is reduced to nothing but a murmur.
The degenerating four-storey concrete structure contains the fragmented remains of 200 market booths, arranged around a main rectangular open-air court.
The shady interior displeasingly plays host to slivers of natural light, intermittently dispensed by framed windows.
Together with structural fractures, these windows disrupt the darkness of the high-ceilinged space.
During the early years it was one of the largest and most modern indoor food marts in Asia. It was the first wet market in Hong Kong, housing the first public female toilets in the city, and the first above-ground toilets in Hong Kong.
The precursor to the market was a bazaar, which was established in 1842. It housed Chinese furniture dealers, cabinet makers and curio shops, but after a fire it was moved to a new site.
In the 1850s, the land it was on was converted into a military base so it was again moved to a new location, which is where it still stands today.
The market was rebuilt in 1858, before being completely replaced by a three-storey Victorian-style structure in 1895.
This was demolished in 1937, and in 1939 it was replaced by the Bauhaus structure which sits mouldering in a major part of the city today, one of two which still remain.
It closed down permanently in 2003.
Six years after being left for dead, Carrie Lam, then Hong Kong’s secretary for development, convinced former chief executive Donald Tsang to save the building, arguing it played a historic role in the district. He agreed and it became part of his 2009 policy address.
The building was subsequently handed over to the Urban Renewal Authority 市區重建局 (URA). They came up with a multi-million dollar revitalisation scheme which involved building several extra floors and a ‘floating’ glass structure to create what they called a ‘green oasis.’
Naturally, many opposed the project, saying it put emphasis on business sustainability, rather than on respecting history and preserving the legacy of the structure.
Now, six years on, after two failed court challenges, the costs of the project have swollen from HK$500 million when the plan was first unveiled to over HK$1.5 billion.
After a series of public consultations, the URA finally gave-in this year and have scrapped the ‘floating’ glass structure to cut costs by almost HK$1 billion.
A new proposal is being submitted to the Town Planning Board.
The URA has assured the public that they won’t distort the project into a shopping mall, but the future of the building looks uncertain.
HK URBEX – Visual creators and storytellers on a mission to unearth Hong Kong’s derelict abandoned sites.