John Shao-Ling Woo
7 Verbena Road, Yau Yat Chuen Garden City, Kowloon
Designed for a Mr. C.C. So by architect John Shao-Ling Woo, the building was built using reinforced concrete. It consists of three floors of apartments, each containing three bedrooms, a living room, and verandah as well as a dining room, kitchen, servant’s room, and an entry porch. The structure’s flat roof, very likely meant by the architect to be a communal roof garden, was never utilized as such and remains unused to this day.
The house is located in the Yau Yat Chuen Garden City Development, a middle-class residential development on approximately forty acres of Crown Land granted by the Government in July 1950. The development was initiated in 1947 by Mr U. Tat Lee, Chairman of the Preserved Ginger Distributors Ltd., who engaged the architect H.M. Siu in the overall planning and the design of detached housing types. According to Hong Kong and Far East Builder, the development’s main objective was to provide “comfortable economical homes within a healthy environment.”
Adjacent to the Kowloon Tong Garden City development, the original proposed plan was for one hundred fourteen detached European-styled houses served by a school, a club-house, recreational grounds, and children playgrounds. The houses are divided into groups placed back to back with a lane between them for the clearance of refuse. Each group of houses was designed to stand on one terrace. In the 1970s, some of the houses began to be subdivided into three- or four-bedroom apartments. Today, the development contains a combination of housing types.