WEEKLY

BORN AGAIN
紗廠重生

六、七十年代的香港,經濟開始崛起,其中以製造業尤為興盛。當時玩具、鐘錶、塑膠花等行業的工廠大廈林立,就連陳寶珠也不忍高呼一句「工廠妹萬歲」!芸芸工廠之中,南豐紗廠便是生產量最高的紡織廠之一。後來經濟轉型,工廠光景不復再,但那段輝煌的記憶猶在。去年年底,修葺後的南豐紗廠改造成文創基地The Mills,讓歷史與藝術共冶一爐,在回望過去的同時,也在塑造創意工業的未來。

紗廠的前世今生
步出荃灣地鐵站,往南豐紗廠的方向一直走,發現區內滿佈陳舊的工廠大廈,有好些的油漆已剝落,甚至連大廈名稱亦模糊不清。國共內戰期間,很多內地的企業家和技術人員湧到香港定居,帶來國內的資金、技術、勞動力,令香港踏入工業化時代,到處都起滿工廠。在製造業的黃金歲月,紡織及成衣業是其中一個最重要的經濟支柱,而南豐紗廠更穩佔行業的領導地位。只可惜,隨着1980年代香港的經濟趨向多元化,紡織工業開始式微,而南豐集團將業務轉移至地產項目、金融投資等,於是南豐紗廠在2008年宣佈停止營運並成為貨倉。2014年,紗廠展開活化工程,昔日的四廠、五廠及六廠分別打造成「南豐作坊」、「六廠紡織文化藝術館(CHAT六廠)」及「南豐店堂」,合併為今天的文化地標,用以培育新一代的創意人才。

新與舊的碰撞
活化工程從來不是一件容易之事。如果只是用砍掉重來的技倆,反而來得輕鬆,但若要在新設計上保留舊日元素,就必須花點心思才行。遠觀兩旁的石柱,或會覺得有點奇怪,唯近看方知有一半保留了以前的模樣,另一半則髹上新的油漆。紗廠亦替入口鐵閘及玻璃窗等設施進行加固工程,以呈現原貌。扶手電梯側放着以前用來撲滅火種的「太平桶」,不過如今已成了指示牌的一部分。牆上斑駁的綠漆、紅字招牌,也讓人更認識紗廠的歷史──同樣的顏色,同樣的字體,醞釀出六、七十年代工廠盛世的氛圍。南豐紗廠內處處都能找到昔日的痕跡,恍如將過去、現在和未來交織在一起。

孕育新文化
紗廠內的店舖種類繁多,有把舊衣再造的零售店、北歐風家品店、精品文具店,還有別具格調的咖啡店。另外,有些樓層設有獨立房間,想必是予人舉辦工作坊、交流會之用。而天台更有一片耕地,種有不同植物,為灰白的水泥空間增添一點綠意。想不到,三個緊密相連的廠房,竟可衍生出如此多元化的創意空間。

這幾年來,不少舊建築如PMQ、美荷樓、灣仔建築群、大館等,一概發展成香港的核心文化地標。相比起「打卡」,我們更應該用心觀賞內裏的展覽或參與活動,合力推動本地的藝術文化。

就讓我們在文化的土壤裏種一朵花,等它慢慢盛開吧。

撰文:王以珞
美術:韋可蕎

In the 1960s and 1970s, Hong Kong’s economy started to bloom drastically, which led to the rapid emergence of manufacturing industry. At that time, the city was crowded with factories and buildings, even the veteran actress Connie Chan Po-chu gave a shout out to all factory girls by singing the song “Long Live the Factory Girls”. Of all the factories, Nan Fung Textiles was one of the factories with the highest production volume. Under the impact of economic restructuring, the heyday of factories no longer exists, yet the lasting memories still linger. Since last year, Nan Fung’s mill factories have transformed into a hub of culture and creativity, allowing visitors to reminisce about the past and look forward to future with art and heritage.

The Past and Present of The Mills
Stepping out of Tsuen Wan MTR station, it is not difficult to spot the numerous factory buildings located ubiquitously in the district as you head to The Mills. There are so many paint chips on the surface of those buildings, and the names of some of the buildings are too blur to read. During the Chinese Civil War, a number of businessmen and technicians who originally lived in mainland China, migrated into Hong Kong and brought in a huge amount of capital, technology and skilled labor, transforming Hong Kong into an industrial city. In the golden age of manufacturing industry, textiles was considered the cornerstone of economy, and Nan Fung Cotton Mills became one of the leading textile companies. Unfortunately, following the growth of a more diversified economy, the textile industry suffered a severe collapse in the 1980s. Nan Fung Group expanded their business in the other areas such as property development and investment services. In 2008, Nan Fung Cotton Mills ceased operations and the three buildings then became warehouses. Six years later, The Mills revitalization project launched and the three factories, namely Mill factory No.4, No.5 and No.6, have turned to The Mills Fabrica, The Mills Shopfloor as well as the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT), which aim to nurture new generation of innovators.

A Mix of Old and New
Revitalization is never a piece of cake. Starting all over from scratch can be hard, but keeping the old elements on a new design is even harder. If you look at the stone columns from a far distance, you may think they look a bit weird. But if you walk closer, you will discover that they are a combination of old and new elements—half of a column retains the old concrete look, while the other half is spruced up with new paint. The metal gate and window frames are reinforced to show the original appearance. Besides the escalators there are some sand buckets which were used to prevent fire hazards back in the old days, but they are a part of the signage now. Also, the mottled green paint of the stairwell, and the signboards with red Chinese characters written on them, evoke a nostalgic atmosphere, making visitors to think of the heyday of texture industry during the 60s and 70s. The Mills is decked out with old and new elements that interweave the past, present and future.

Nurturing New Culture
There is an array of different shops in The Mills, including shops that sell green garments, Scandinavian-style furniture, high-end stationery, and also a few stylish and elegant coffee shops. Apart from the shops, there are some rooms on different floors for organizing workshops and seminars. On the rooftop, you will find some lovely green plants, which seem to contrast with the surrounding concrete. It is amazing to see how the three factories are combined into one site and become a cultural landmark.

For the past few years, a lot of historic buildings in Hong Kong, such as PMQ, Mei Ho House, the Blue House Cluster and Tai Kwun, have been transformed into cultural landmarks of the city. Rather than posting check-in photos only, we should pay more attention to, or participate in the exhibitions and activities organized in these landmarks in order to promote arts and culture.

Let us make a little effort to promote Hong Kong’s art and culture together.

Text: Elok Wong
Art: Christy Wai

ISSUE #227

BORN AGAIN

 

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