Blue House is an embodiment of the Localhood aesthetic-connecting neighbours through regular events, sharing of skills and goods.
It is also a testament to the power of neighbours- a group of people who had such strong attachment to their homes and their neighbours who petitioned the government to spend HK$70 million in conserving their building.
They succeeded through their resilience and persuasive power to save their building from being demolished to make way for a tea museum (which we have already in Hong Kong park).
What makes Blue House unique and so worth preserving? Here’s a list:
It’s a photogenic 100-year-old tenement. It houses a bonesetter’s clinic which dates back to the Wong Fei Hung days. The bonesetter is a relative of the disciple of this famous kung fu master. If you don’t know who Wong Fei Hung is, you better brush up on your kung fu master movies.
The details in the house (don’t get fooled by all the blue) are a good representation of 1920s living style. Balconies were places for taking a baths or getting your newspaper or olives thrown up to you. There were no toilets originally and neighbours placed their buckets of faeces on the stairs marked with their flat numbers for collection.
There is a perfectly conserved flat in the Blue House open to public if you join the FREE tour. You can see the ancient wooden bunk bed where 4-8 people slept in and beautiful qipaos of yore showing how slim women were back then. Several families lived in a small home much like the lower income groups in Hong Kong today. And they didn’t have their own toilet.
The intangibles of the Blue House is what makes it special. You can find the community spirit of the resident oozing from every corner-from the homemade tin mailboxes designed by the neighbours, to the many workshops available to residents to learn skills from each other (like upcycling unused or unwanted products by Kevin Yeung Studio tel: 6033 2102).
There is a 1-hour free guided tour (minimum 3 guests) which allows you to go inside the residential area and see the variety of ways the residents lend a helping hand to each other under the Good Neighbour Scheme of the building. There are original residents living there as well as new residents who are vetted by a panel of judges who can meet the Good Neighbour Scheme guidelines to continue the community spirit of the building. Those new residents can rent the flats for lower than market rate-around HK$14,000 per month for around 400 square feet and HK$30,000 per month for 800 square feet.
Some interesting shops in the building are the secondhand shop with adult and children’s books and board games available for sale and a Hong Kong local organic shop selling handmade soaps and snacks.
the Blue House holds regular workshops for schools, NGOs and corporates to learn to make traditional foods and products. For example, there is a workshop teaching people how to make traditional paper lanterns and twist the wires on their own like those lanterns we see in the traditional incense shops in Sheung Wan. Those workshops are only available on Viva Blue House’s Chinese website so probably need to bring some Canto friends along to translate. Another good workshop to join is the sweet organic peanut brittle workshop to learn how to make them and share with friends and relatives in time for CNY!
In case you have'nt yet, go visit and let us know how you found this iconic neighbourhood centre.
Viva Blue House website: https://vivabluehouse.hk/en/
Address: 72 Stone Nullah Lan