HONG KONG (1904 – 2015) / IMPACTS OF THE PUBLIC BATHROOMS
There are 769 public bathrooms in Hong Kong currently, however they are seldom utilized nowadays and are seen as excessive.1 However, before the plague, natives do not own private bathrooms and was not able to cleanse themselves everyday. The appearance of public bathrooms drastically changes not just their sanitary condition, their lifestyles but as well as the built environment and the location of their communal spaces. According to one of the interviewees I have came over, Mrs. Li, aged 86 years old, described her experiences in using the Pak Hoi Street Bath House, one of the most crowded one in 1939. 2 “During the old times everyone would queue up for the public bath house during night times. I was living in one of the hubs in Kowloon, which is Yau Ma Tei. In such a crowded area without another public bath house nearby I seldom bath everyday. Although I have to wait for a long time during the queue, I enjoyed it because I can see my friends and the neighbours and chat with them.” 3
Furthermore, the first public bath house in Pound Lane were to accommodate 28 males and 10 females. 4 However, in 1939, after the establishment of 6 other public bath houses, the Pound Lane Bath House was still the one of the most crowded one in the entire Hong Kong, serving 279,302 people. 2 The over crowding and the lack of public bath houses soon gave rise to the new Public Housing typology and Building Ordinance in Hong Kong to include private bathrooms with specific requirements.
1 V. Lau, (2015). Examination of Estimates of Expenditure 2014-15. Hong Kong: The Government of Hong Kong, FHB(FE)072.
2 W. J. Carrie, (1939). Report of the Chairman, Urban Council. Hong Kong: The Government of Hong Kong, M(1). p.16. Table V.
3 Lee, K. (2015). Pak Hoi Street Public Bath House.
4 F.H. May, (1905). Report on the Health and Sanitary Condition of the Colony of Hong Kong, for the Year 1904. Hong Kong: The Government of Hong Kong, p.269.