Unobtrusively, often unthought of, any stretch of land can be home to a million secrets. For those who pass by unknowing, too brusque to take time to pause and ponder, who knows what repositories of knowledge they are treading on so carelessly? The scene of an epoch-defining battle? The site of one of the most extravagant coronations the world has ever seen? The setting for the final doomed, clandestine encounter of star-crossed lovers? A former gasworks? Tragedy, comedy, history and matters best dismissed as prosaic pack every inch of the terrain we occupy.
In Hong Kong, a city where terra firma is famously in particularly short supply, this unlooked-to legacy is ever more, vivid, dense and hard to ignore. Hospitals rise in former fish markets, one-time pauper’s last resorts are reinvented as a millionaire’s mile, while even land that, no so long ago languished below the waves, is reclaimed and repurposed.
What then of Kowloon Tong, a district apparently long-regarded as a high-end residential area, with its all-luxury Dynasty Heights-Tropicana development rightly deemed a pinnacle of considerate construction and sustainable design? Well, you don’t have to dig too deep to uncover the remarkable tale behind this highly desirable bit of topography. Unlike many areas, a very specific date can be identified for the widespread transformation of this one – 25 December 1953. This was the day that a sudden blaze destroyed the township of Shek Kip Mei, an impromptu cluster of lean-tos and pre-fabs that had been home to more than 50,000 refugees from the mainland.
In truth, this devastating inferno divided the destiny of the region. On its southern side, a major public housing programme – a necessity given the vast number of people that suddenly found themselves destitute and homeless – was promptly initiated. This ultimately gave rise to the Shek Kip Mei Low-cost Housing Estate, a development that became a byword for cramped conditions and poor living standards. To the north, by contrast, along Beacon Hill, the go-ahead was given for the development of two very different residential estates – Beacon Heights and Dynasty Heights-Tropicana. Both designed with private and highly-affluent buyers in mind, they have since become wholly synonymous with luxury living in this now highly-desirable Hong Kong neighbourhood.
For its part, the ideally-appointed Dynasty Heights-Tropicana development sits nestled on a gentle slope, all amid luxuriant natural woodland. Enjoying an unparalleled view out across the charms of Victoria Harbour, it’s a homestead that effortlessly blends a cosy residential feel with the distinct allure of a resort. This latter aspect is in no way hampered by its proximity to an exclusive 100m swimming pool, which even now remains a rarity in even the city’s most upmarket complexes.
A perfect example of a stunning abode that occupies this luxurious development is a two-bedroom apartment recently completed by local interior design firm S.I.D. Ltd.’s Peter Ho. Encompassing a wholly modern appeal, this 941sq.ft apartment is all sleek lines and minimalist elegance. Here, the capacious living / dining area, cloakroom and kitchen all gift its lucky owners with ample space to entertain their nearest and dearest. When weather permits, though, the prime gathering space is undoubtedly the enormous 3,682sq.ft outdoor garden that rings the property. The undeniable jewel in the apartment’s crown, this expansive space boasts tasteful landscaping that punctuate its dedicated dining and lounging areas.
In order to ensure the overall development retains a distinctly organic feel, meanwhile, its thoughtful design sees it remain very in keeping with its decidedly lush environment. Indeed, while its architecture remains both contemporary and accommodating, it also favours an arch unobtrusiveness, an aspect that endears it as much to occasional visitors as to long-term residents. In addition to the pool, its exclusive residents-only facilities also extend to tennis courts, squash courts, a club house, a dedicated barbecue area, secure children’s play areas and a regular shuttle bus that takes the pain out of the five-to-10 minute trip to the nearest MTR station.
All in all then, Dynasty Heights-Tropicana is a truly luxurious home and one forever rooted in the travails of Hong Kong’s past, while also being a potent symbol of the city’s contemporary success and future aspirations. Even more than easy access to a 100m heated, outdoor pool, such attributes undoubtedly make it the ideal locale to rear a young, curious and culturally-minded family.
Text: Bob Sperling
Photos: S.I.D. Ltd.