Hong Lok Yuen – suburbia in Hong Kong

This might look like a random slice of American suburbia.

Hong Lok Yuen NT Hong Kong, 1992
Photo by ‘Charles’ on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

With streets of cookie-cutter Mediterranean-style detached houses.

Hong Lok Yuen, New Territories, Hong Kong from air in 1991
Photo by ‘Charles’ on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

With no tall buildings in sight.

Hong Kong: Hong Lok Yuen and Tai Po 1992
Photo by ‘Charles’ on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

But this is actually in Hong Kong – Hong Lok Yuen, a private estate in the New Territories near Tai Po.

Google Maps

Developed by Canadian Overseas Development and Clifford Wong Chun-fai (黃振輝), along with Sun Hung Kai Properties on later stages, the estate at Hong Lok Yuen was approved in 1977, with 1196 units built between 1980 and September 1993.

The estate covers an area of 558,000 m2 (6,010,000 sq ft), of which 40% is open space – presumably the hill bits! The majority of houses on the estate are two to three storeys in height, 1,600–3,500 sq ft (150–330 m2) floor area, with their own garage and garden.

Floorplan via Midland Realty

Private bus route NR51 runs between the estate and the nearest railway station at Tai Po Market, running every 7 to 20 minutes on the 3 kilometre long journey.

Map via Moovit

Further reading

The South China Morning Post has a short piece on Hong Lok Yuen, and the Apple Daily newspaper also has this real estate listing for a villa at Hong Lok Yuen (Chinese-language).

The book “The First Estates: The Story of Fairview Park and Hong Lok Yuen” by Roger Nissim details the history of Hong Lok Yuen:

The First Estates shows the impact on Hong Kong’s urban history of Fairview Park and Hong Lok Yuen, the earliest examples of private estates provided in the New Territories of Hong Kong. Completed in the 1970s and 1980s, both are examples of land development projects built as low-density, American-style suburban house living, the first true alternative to the typical high-rise urban living of Hong Kong.

In this book, Roger Nissim traces their evolution—from retreats for urban dwellers to family residences—that followed the expansion of Hong Kong’s public transportation system. The book draws heavily on the original documents that are reproduced in the book. These unearthed documents detail land acquisition process and the negotiations with the government, financiers, local villagers, contractors, and new residents.

Read together, this collection of key primary sources—concerning government approvals, site selection, planning and implementation, layout plan, and sales policy—provide the reader with an unparalleled vision of this unique period in the evolution of Hong Kong’s urban development before the establishment of formal town planning. Nissim also re-examines the role of Clifford Wong, the visionary behind these projects. Exhaustive research and interviews with early residents who still live in the estates, early employees in the various relevant departments, and Wong’s descendants complete this volume and enhance the understanding of Hong Kong’s urban history.

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4 Responses to Hong Lok Yuen – suburbia in Hong Kong

  1. Doug Coster says:

    I have friends living in Fairview Park, they moved there to escape the hustle & bustle of downtown Kowloon.
    It really is like a different world out there and completely self contained – they have their own clubhouse with gym & swimming pool, supermarket, restaurants, etc!

  2. Matthew says:

    Oh I actually live in Hong Lok Yuen. All of the houses were built to the same style (with various sizes and layouts) but nowadays m0st of them have been renovated at somepoint to whatever styles the owners want. It’s pretty common to see garages converted into extended living rooms (with the car parked on the kerb), or outdoor patios converted to expanded dining rooms.

    • Here in Australia the number of ‘small’ houses has been shinking as people buy them up then extend them as their families grow – so it makes sense the same thing is happening in Hong Lok Yuen, as you have land to extend into.

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