History scholars awarded HK$2 million to explore heritage conservation
The Department of History research team received a HK$2 million grant from the Built Heritage Conservation Fund (BHCF) offered by the HKSAR Government for their project “Where ‘Hong Kong in the Sea’ and ‘Hong Kong on the Land’ Meet -- A Study on the Conservation of Historic Building Clusters in the Ap Lei Chau-Aberdeen-Lamma Island Area”.
The 24-month research project is led by the Department of History Professor Stephanie Chung, who is Principal Investigator, and conducted with co-investigators Professor Clara Ho, Dr Sammy Li, Dr Liu Oiyan, Dr Kwok Kam-chau, Department of Geography Professor Tang Wing-shing, and Mr Tony Lam from the Hong Kong Institute of Architects.
“Funding Scheme for Thematic Research on Built Heritage Conservation” was launched in 2017 on a pilot basis, inviting eight degree-awarding academic institutions to submit their applications. The grant ceiling for each successful application is HK$2 million. The Department is thrilled to stand out from all the other applications; this project is one of only two proposals that have secured the maximum amount of funding among the six approved applications from local universities.
The aim of the research is to uncover the historical details that are hidden in the remains of the Ap Lei Chau-Aberdeen-Lamma Island Area, a richly textured building cluster. This study takes the “point-line-plane” approach to investigate architectural conservation in the area in three phases. The team will utilise evidence from building clusters, such as temples and churches, stele inscriptions, official archives, vernacular materials, and oral histories to illustrate the communal, cultural, and social features of land settlers, fishermen, and other floating communities.
The team will also trace their histories of settlement and sojourning, and will reveal aesthetic values, spatial structures, historical knowledge, and social and cultural contexts of the entire building clusters. The purpose of this study is to conceptualise “the nexus between land-based and maritime cultural heritages” and seek for solutions to conserve these significant heritages.
The Development Bureau established BHCF in 2016 to provide subsidies for public education, community involvement and publicity activities, and academic research apart from covering certain existing government initiatives and activities on built heritage conservation.