Built in the Qing dynasty by the Tang clan of Ping Shan, the Tang Ancestral Hall in Yuen Long boasts two internal courtyards dotted with wooden plaques embossed with big golden Chinese characters.
The majestic structure has been used by the Tang clan for traditional ceremonies like celebratory lantern lighting after the birth of a son.
With such age-old rituals still being conducted in the hall, it bears witness to the evolution of both the Tang clan and Yuen Long.
The Tang Ancestral Hall is among the antique structures featured in the “Reminiscences: Life in Hong Kong's Built Heritage” exhibition, presented by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department and organised by the Antiquities & Monuments Office.
Through the use of augmented reality and laser scanning technology, historic landmarks like the Tang Ancestral Hall are recreated in 3D displays, giving the audience an immersive experience.
The show also features more than 50 exhibits, including the bishop’s throne at St John's Cathedral, the door lock and key of Victoria Prison in Central, and Hong Kong's oldest pawn shop signboard from the Chun Yuen Pawn House in Yuen Long Old Market - the oldest pawn shop in Hong Kong still in business today.
The well-preserved heritage on display in the exhibition shows the painstaking effort put into conserving Hong Kong's relics amid rapid urban development.
Witnesses to history
To help visitors better understand how Hong Kong’s architectural styles have evolved over the past century, the expo features a display chronicling the love story of character couple Mary and Ying-wo, whose lives are interwoven with those of local historical landmarks.
Mary prays at St Andrew's Church in Tsim Sha Tsui and studies at Maryknoll Convent School in Kowloon City.
Ying-wo learns from his village elders that Cheung Chun Yuen in Kam Tin is a martial arts training school.
Antiquities & Monuments Office Assistant Curator Terence Ng said Cheung Chun Yuen was established in the mid-19th century.
"It was one of the few study halls in Hong Kong training youths for the imperial military examinations."
In addition to the story of Mary and Ying-wo, the show also features hi-tech interactive exhibits to help visitors learn more about the architectural features of antique buildings.
Laser scanning technology is used to create 3D mock-ups of the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower and the Tang Ancestral Hall.
Used originally for relic repairs, the technology scans the structure, collects the data and recreates a 3D model which is then projected onto a screen at the exhibition.
Antiquities & Monuments Office Land Surveyor Henry Kwok said the technology creates an immersive experience.
"Visitors can see the plaques decorating the Tang Ancestral Hall up close. They can see the hollowed-out design of the plaque frame and the delicate dragon head embellishing the top of the frame."
Besides 3D laser scanning, augmented reality technology is also used.
Artefacts from history books pop up on tablet computers, allowing visitors to study the relics from different angles.
The exhibition is one of the events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
It is being held at the Heritage Discovery Centre in Kowloon Park until May 1.