Historic buildings are symbols of our cultural identity and continuity which can always give us a sense of wonder. They also carry various kinds of academic and aesthetic value.
The types of historic buildings are varied in Hong Kong, ranging from traditional Chinese ancestral halls and Western residences to functional structures such as waterworks facilities. The architectural styles, selections of sites and building materials as well as types of buildings to be constructed etc. are all governed by social beliefs, traditions, ideas and cultures. The study of historic buildings can reveal the artistic and human messages embraced in them.
From 1996 to 2000, the Antiquities and Monuments Office had carried out a territory-wide survey of historic buildings, during which some 8800 buildings were recorded. It was followed up by a more in-depth study of about 1000 items with higher heritage value. These buildings were given proposed grading to reflect their value assessed against six criteria: historical interest, architectural merit, group value, social value and local interest, authenticity, and rarity. As recommended by Members of the Antiquities Advisory Board, an independent Historic Buildings Assessment Panel comprising historians and members of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, Hong Kong Institute of Planners and Hong Kong Institution of Engineers has been formed since March 2005 to undertake an in-depth assessment of the heritage value of these buildings.