Hong Kong loves mosaic tiles

One of the things people always notice about the Mass Transit Railway in Hong Kong is the mosaic tiles that line the walls, and the dual English / Chinese station names on the pillars.

Tsuen Wan station sign

The first MTR stations were opened in the 1980s: these have entire walls covered with the tiles: for example Central and Prince Edward:

"'hank you for offering your seat to those in need"

Pink school uniforms, pink mosaic tiles

Most stations use just a single colour of tile, a few stations use two different colours, but Choi Hung is unique in having rainbow stripes (because in Cantonese it means rainbow)

Choi Hung station sign

When building the Island Line stations the builders had a bit of trouble: due to the stations being deep level bored tubes instead of cut and cover boxes, attaching mosaic tiles to a curved surface was difficult, leading them to use fibreglass panels for the curved sections.

A mix of mosaic tiles and fibreglass panels at Sheung Wan MTR station

By the 1990s the MTR moved on from mosaics: stations on the Tung Chung line (opened in 1998) just have fibreglass panels. However the Tseung Kwan O Line opened in 2002 reintroduced the traditional mosaics on station columns, paired with fibreglass wall panels.

The former KCR also got into the mosaic tile game, the Ma On Shan Line opened in 2004 uses slightly bigger tiles on the walls.

Mosaic tiles and MTR posters at Heng On station

However, it is not just on the Mass Transit Railway that you will see mosaic tiles: everywhere you go in Hong Kong they seem to lurking nearby! The Housing Authority is another big user: most of their apartment towers are covered with the stuff:

Lowrise Housing Authority towers in Tung Tau Estate

Typical Housing Authority apartment tower

They appear to be still using it as well, as this under construction tower shows:

Housing Authority tower under construction

It isn’t just low income housing: lots of privately developed middle and upper class apartment blocks also use the tiles.

Income is no barrier to mosaic tiles!

Ma On Shan line weaves between apartment blocks

You will also find them covering the wall of your local shopping centre:

Mosaic tiles in the fire escape

And post office:

Lamma Island post office

I’m sure there is hundreds more examples of mosaic tiles around Hong Kong: the big question is why are they so popular?

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4 Responses to Hong Kong loves mosaic tiles

  1. Cleo says:

    for the same reason that bathrooms are tiled – to forestall mildew growth

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