Creative Adaptive Reuse of an Old Fish Farm

15 Apr

Farming of tropical fish is a disappearing local industry in the villages in Sheung Shui, Hong Kong. This old fish farm shown in the photo has been there for more than half a century. The long building with a corrugated iron roof on the left is an indoor farm with stacking fish tanks in it. There is also a living quarter and office at the near end. The building in the back is a house with two storeys of living space, a semi double-height living and dining room inside. It also has a open but covered entry foyer with a kitchen next to it. The open “brick-walled” space that look like a series of square grid are the outdoor fish ponds. The restroom shack is located outdoor at the far end of the main lane.

If this complex were located in a more civilized, cultural and democratic society, there may be a chance for one of these fish farms to be preserved as a specimen to record the history and everything about this local business. But in an extreme capitalism-driven city like Hong Kong, nothing will be saved and this land will end up becoming another real estate development for the wealthy.

As a result, the local fish farmers cannot do much to the fish farm because they do not own the land. A lot of them are just waiting for compensation when the land eventually gets taken over. Even so, some of the more creative farmers have started converting these outdoor fish ponds into planting ground for some organic farming. Here are some of the examples –

Black mulberries trees are planted inside the pond. The previously left over charcoal for warming the fish tanks proves to be a good substance to put on soil for growing mulberry trees.

Papaya trees

Mint plants (left). Water plants (right) that fish can hide and breed underneath. Note that this circular concave space on the ground of the outdoor fish ponds was once used to collect the fish when you drain the water out from the ponds.

This little “water break” shows you exactly how water is going to flow out into the open channels and eventually to the drains when the pond is full. Let’s hope that the history of local tropical fish farming will be recorded before it is too late

tin ping road, sheung shui, hong kong – 3:36pm, apr 15, 2012

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