Architectural Office, Public Works Department
Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
One hundred forty-six Mark I Resettlement Blocks were constructed throughout Hong Kong beginning in 1954 until the mid-1960s. Of these, Mei Ho House is the only surviving example, commemorating sixty years of Hong Kong public housing history. At six storeys tall, Mei Ho House was one of the first multi-storey accommodations built by the Government for the general resettlement of the city’s squatter settlement. Public taxes were used to construct the units and represented a dramatic shift from previous colonial policy.
As a result, the Government sought an efficient and rational architectural design. Mark I blocks featured two spatial configurations, the I-shape as well as the H-shape. Each block featured sixty-four domestic units per floor (later extended to eighty-four), arranged back to back with access via a communal balcony. Communal services, including water and bathroom facilities, were located at the center of each floor. Subsequent blocks were soon comprised of seven storeys to improve each unit’s economy of scale.
Several defining features of the Modern Movement can be identified in the Mark I resettlement unit typology. This includes rational, standardized modular units, each designed for maximum efficiency; undecorated, horizontal bands of balcony space wrapped around each block; and, the use of flat roofs for a variety of recreational purposes. In some Mark I blocks, a primary school was located on the roof.
– Rosman Wai