Foo Tak building in Wan Chai
Sometimes I am surprised by readers’ responses to my blog entries. My previous entry on Hong Kong’s secondhand bookstores have generated more responses than I expected, so I gathered that people are still interested in independent/secondhand booksellers.
What astonishes me about Hong Kong is that it has much to offer beyond the glossy shopping malls, yet often these places are overlooked. During my stay, I discovered a hidden gem called Foo Tak building (365-367 Hennessy Rd), an inconspicuous 14 storey old residential building in Wan Chai filled with cultural hubs, alternative bookshops and artist studios etc. This building is truly one of a kind in Hong Kong, and it is easy to figure that out as soon as you step into the lift as it is covered in anti-government and political stickers. Cool.
The coming society
Located on the second floor of the building is The Coming Society, a second-hand bookshop selling English and Chinese (and some French) titles in literature, arts, philosophy, social science and history. Founded in 2011 by Daniel Lee and Chen Ho-lok, both Philosophy graduates from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, with the aim of stimulating discussions. The shop also organises talks, book launches, film screenings and mini concerts on a weekly basis.
Aside from a reading corner, the shop provides a self-help pantry and free wifi. I was impressed to see alternative publications on gay and lesbian rights and US zine ‘Tenacious: Art & Writings by Women in Prison’ on the human rights of female prisoners. These are not publications that you would find in any mainstream bookstores in Hong Kong. Last but not least, there is even a set-your-price box for CDs produced by local musicians… now that is something that I have never encountered in Hong Kong before!
Art & Culture Outreach
Located on the 14th floor is the brainchild of the building: the non-profit organisation Art & Culture Outreach. Founded by in 2003 and supported by Dawei Charitable Foundation, ACO aims to use the building to facilitate both local and overseas art and cultural practitioners to have cross boundary/ discipline development. In 2014, the bookshop moved from 1st floor to a bigger space on 14th floor which includes a cafe, gallery space and a rooftop vegetable farm. The bookshop stocks a range of books from local and foreign independent publishers with a strong focus on art, design and architecture. There are also lifestyle goods made by local artists/designers on sale, and an exhibitions area for local artists/illustrators to showcase their works.
On the 8th floor is MaKee, a retro cafe and shop that sells vintage household/accessories/stationery that the owners found during their travels. It is common to see these types of shops in Japan, but seldom in Hong Kong. The homemade cakes are baked by the friendly owner, and the ambience makes you feel like a visitor at a friend’s home rather than being in a cafe/shop.
Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit all the shops/venues in the building, but I will certainly return again in the future as this building is what I considered as an ‘oasis’ in Hong Kong.
Cool poster designs on local events