• Life Workshop
  • Apr 2021 - Jul 2023
  • 5th Round Approved Project
  • $3,300,000
Objective The project is about metal craftsmanship of Tai Kok Tsui which was located near the coast and typhoon shelters. During industrial development in the early 1950s, there was a great demand for shipboard supplies, which was particularly beneficial to the development of shipping, hardware and heavy industries. Time has changed, shipping and heavy industries have declined, and the coastline has also moved west due to reclamation. Tai Kok Tsui has become an area where the old coexists with the new. However, there are still many hardware workshops and stores operating in the area, which is a unique landscape in Hong Kong.

The residents in the area are diverse. Some residents have lived in Tai Kok Tsui for more than 20 to 30 years. They have a strong sense of belonging to the community and have a good understanding of regional changes. Those who live in newly-built housing estates are relatively young new may not have a strong bonding, but their characteristics are relatively middle-class, and their profession is indeed a potential resource for the community.

Under urban renewal and changes in economic development, old hardware workshops and stores will gradually close down, and the number of hardware technicians will gradually decrease too. Therefore, the " Colourful Ironware” project intends to conserve hardware craftsmanship by the following 6 kinds of activity. Meanwhile to encourage the old and new residents in the district know more about the characteristics of the community, and use hardware installation art to revitalize the community.

Target participants: Residents in Tai Kok Tsui District, hardware-related industries and small shops, hardware craftmen and the public.

Community cultural preservation
1. Documenting of hardware craftsmanship and history in Tai Kok Tsui

Aiming at cultivating new generation of masters, promoting intergenerational transmission, and avoiding the permanent loss of hardware craftmanship, the team aspires to collect industry stories and oral history in the district.

As of the first quarter of 2023: The team visited the old metal hardware stores and related stores in the district regularly and built relationships. At the same time, volunteers were recruited to take part in the oral history project, by the means of taking photos and videos for the local stores to record the changes of Tai Kok Tsui. The materials will be used in publications such as books and social media platform posts.


2. Inheritance of hardware skills

The hardware industry covers a wide range of professional skills, some easier skills such as iron, aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, etc., will be chosen in the workshops for the public to experience the handcraft. At the end, it is hoped that the craftmanship can be inherited.

As of the first quarter of 2023: The team arranged training sessions for the hardware stores owners to equip with presentation skills, in order to strengthen the confidence to teach in the workshops. At the same time, more hardware masters were recruited and trained. Due to the fifth wave of the epidemic, the physical workshop was shifted online and the material packages was delivered to the participants so they could experience the workshop at home.


3. Guided tour of community history and culture

As of the first quarter of 2023: The team has trained residents, youths or interested general public to become experienced tour guides, in order to instruct the public to get to know the history, hardware industry and local characters of Tai Kok Tsui. There are 3 themes of the guided tours and it’s organized bi-weekly. The first tour was launched in November 2021. Schools and groups are also welcomed to reserve their exclusive session.

As some hardware stores are inconvenient for the public to visit, virtual reality (VR) is applied to show 360-degree view inside. Participates can experience being in the hardware store through VR glasses.

Community revitalisation

4. Establishing ‘Colourful Ironware Hub’

The team planned to set up ‘Colourful Ironware Hub’ in Tai Kok Tsui to build up a meeting point for the local, as well as to showcase the history of hardware industry. Thus, to connect the residents and foster the revitalisation in the community.

The ‘Colourful Ironware Hub’ located in 80 Oak Street, has been launched in November 2021. Apart from being a mini museum for the general public as some old store signs, old machines are collected, it’s also served as the meeting point/starting point for guided tours and a training hub for tour guides.


5. Installation art workshops

Under the lead of artists, designers or craftsmen, it is expected to create installations that present the significance of the history and culture in the district and some of the works can be used in community spaces.

As of the first quarter of 2023: Related art installation workshops have been launched. Participants joined the guided tour in the area to know about the local characters before creating the installation art. The next step participants will share and exchange ideas with the hardware masters on the installation productions.

The ‘Red Dachshund’ made by ‘Heng Cheong Hardware’ involves technique of bending metal. Combining a fire extinguisher, a common recycling item in Tai Kok Tsui as the dog’s body. The ‘Red Dachshund’ turns ironwares into a public installation.

6. Community public space planning

As of the first quarter of 2023: Residents, local stores owners, and stakeholders were invited to explore the possibility of revitalizing the spaces in the district. The team also connected with NGOs, secondary schools and universities, especially art students. A total number of 70 students were invited to join the brainstorming sessions to come up with good ideas for district urban renewal.