Wavell House [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Wavell House [????- ]

Current condition: 
In use

Photos that show this place



Notes from the AAB's Historic appraisal:

Historic Building Appraisal
Old Victoria Barracks, Wavell Block,
Cotton Tree Drive, Hong Kong Park, Central, H. K.

Historical Interest

Old Victoria Barracks was one of the first British military compounds in Hong Kong. There were over thirty military buildings in the Barracks but most of them were demolished. The buildings which still exist; for example, Cassels Block (卡素樓), Montgomery Block (蒙高瑪利樓), Roberts Block (羅拔時樓), Rawlinson House (羅連信樓) and Wavell Block (華福樓) – together with the declared monument Flagstaff House (舊三軍司令官邸) – used to serve as residences and dormitories. During the Japanese Occupation (1941-1945), the buildings were used by the Japanese. In 1979, Victoria Barracks was handed back to the Hong Kong Government, and part of it was converted into the Hong Kong Park. Today, the buildings are individually converted into a visual arts centre, offices, and museum respectively.

Wavell Block was built in the early 1900s and was originally known as ‘Warrant Officers’ Quarters 3 & 4’. It was named after the Second World War after Field Marshal Archibald Percival Wavell (1883-1950). Since 1991, it has been converted into the Hong Kong Park Aviary Support Centre (Education Centre) mainly for primary school pupils to study birds.

Architectural Merit

Wavell Block (or Wavell House to give it its correct name) consists of two handed wings on either side of a central entrance and balustraded flight of steps. The building is two-storeys high raised off the ground on low arches (now blocked up). Originally there were open verandahs on the ground floor and first floor, but they have been enclosed with windows. Fortunately the urn-shaped classical balustrading still survives. The architectural style is Edwardian Classical Revival. Besides the balustrading there are other classical features including a moulded string course, moulded capitals to columns, moulded cornices, a triangular central pediment and a panel-and-post parapet wall. Unfortunately not much of architectural interest survives internally due to conversion works.

Rarity, Built Heritage Value & Authenticity

Unfortunately due to conversion works, the authenticity of the building has been impaired by enclosure of the verandahs and an unsuitable pink and grey colour scheme painted on to the walls. Originally the brickwork would have been exposed with architectural features painted white like Roberts Block. This building is rare and has built heritage value and deserves sympathetic restoration.

Social Value & Local Interest

As army married quarters, Wavell House had limited social value to the local community, but as the Aviary Support Centre it now provides educational and veterinary services. As one of the surviving blocks of the old Victoria Barracks it has historical and local interest.

Group Value

Wavell Block, together with other blocks of the Old Victoria Barracks, the Flagstaff House (舊三軍司令官邸) and the Former Explosives Magazine (舊域 多利軍營軍火庫) in the vicinity form an integral part of the historic compound of the old Victoria Barracks. They are also physically close to items graded by the Antiquities Advisory Board such as St. Joseph’s College (聖約瑟書院), St. Paul’s Co-educational College (聖保羅男女中學) and First Church of Christ Scientist (基督科學教會香港第一分會).

Adaptive Re-use

The present adaptive re-use would have been more acceptable from a conservation point of view if the front elevation had been restored instead of converted. The present colour scheme is also entirely inappropriate and more suited to Disneyland.