tradition (or Early Modernism), a prime example of which is the Hong Kong City Hall, designed
by British architects Ron Phillips resemblance of the architecture of
and Alan Fitch
the City Hall to
1956 and completed in of the Bauhaus School
1962. The of Design in
Dessau (which composition to
can be considered as the the architectural details, is
prototype of unmistakable
Bauhaus architecture), (figs. 21 and 22).
There is one place in Hong Kong where a good number of true Bauhaus-style buildings are preserved in tip-top condition, and that is Kadoorie Hill in Mongkok. This is an area developed as a prestigious residential district starting in the late 1930s, and most of the houses in this inconspicuous location, particularly on Kadoorie Avenue and Braga Circuit, are very much designed to the Bauhaus tradition (figs. 23 and 24). The concentration of such Bauhaus houses on Kadoorie Hill compares well with White City of Tel Aviv in Israel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (inscribed 2003) significant for being the largest concentration of Bauhaus building in the world (see the official website at http://www.white-city.co.il/english/index.htm). The main reason why there exists this prevalently “Bauhaus district” in Hong Kong is because the collective owner of these architectural gems is the phenomenally wealthy Kadoorie family, and as such, there is almost no pressure to redevelop the properties in this locality.
Figs. 23 and 24: Houses on Kadoorie Hill, Kowloon, developed in the 1950s in the Bauhaus tradition. (Image source: (all) Ho-Yin Lee)
Comparing Streamline Moderne and Bauhaus
The theoretical basis of Bauhaus design is based on the expression of modern mass production. Until the early 20th century, buildings, like any other hardware item used in everyday life, were handcrafted and therefore unique, as no two handmade items could possibly be exactly the same. In the early 20th century, the mass production process employing machines and assembly lines to assemble final products from standardized pre-manufactured parts was introduced. The most illustrative of this is the automobile industry, which, in its infancy at the turn of the 20th century, was akin to a precision cottage industry in which every vehicle was handmade and could not share body parts. In 1913, the Ford Motor Company created the world’s first assembly line that mass-produced virtually identical standardized car models in the thousands.
The new mass-production process ushered in a new thinking for architecture, in which the design and construction of buildings should reflect the standardized and systematized industrial approach. This architectural philosophy became formalized under the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany. The Bauhaus School of Design building in Dessau (1926) (figs. 22 and 26), became a prototype to demonstrate the modern approach of architecture, in which buildings were designed and constructed from the onset as an assemblage of pre-manufactured components, in