Blue House Cluster

Top choice architecture in Wan Chai & Northeast Hong Kong Island

Image by Lawrence Lam#135228 FlickrVision

A rare heritage protection success story, the 1920s Blue House is one of Hong Kong's last surviving wooden tenement buildings. The graceful, four-storey structure, featuring cast-iron balconies reminiscent of New Orleans, and its adjoining neighbours the Yellow House and Orange House, were taken over by a local community trust (thank heavens – it almost became a spa in the 2000s), painstakingly restored and are now partially open to the public. Several apartments still house descendants of the original residents.

Two eateries, a thrift store, community library and an organic veg shop in the cluster are being run as social enterprises, with all profits returning to the Blue House. Free guided tours in English (11am Saturdays) take you into a residential unit preserved as it was in the mid-20th century – you'll be astonished at how many families shared the same room. The House of Stories, a museum and exhibition space on the ground floor (10am to 6pm, closed Wednesday), is a rich source of info on yesteryear Hong Kong.

The Blue House was built atop a temple to the god of Chinese medicine, which was preserved within the new tenement. You can see the temple facade at the corner of King Sing St and Stone Nullah Lane.