Linking a number of tourist attractions like Tai Kwun, PMQ and Man Mo Temple, Hollywood Road is always popular for tourists in Hong Kong. While tourists come for the historical attractions, many locals, on the other hand, come to Hollywood Road for food and drinks. South of Hollywood Road, the narrow Staunton Street (士丹頓街) was once home to wet market vendors, trading offices, family-run stores and small Buddhist convents (庵堂). In fact, Staunton Street was once nicknamed the Street of Buddhist Nuns (師姑街). After the Central – Mid Levels Escalators opened to the public in 1993 and brought an influx of pedestrians from the business district downhill, Staunton Street and the adjacent Elgin Street(伊利近街) have quietly undergone a dramatic transformation. Expatriates started to move into the area. Old shops and Buddhist convents were gradually replaced by bars, pubs, restaurants, comedy clubs, cafes, and wine shops. In 1996, Thomas Goetz, a restaurant owner from Elgin Street, came up with the acronym “SoHo” (蘇豪) for this new entertainment and dining area of Central, referring to the location “South of Hollywood Road”. From then on, the Staunton Street that I used to go as a child to get fresh grocery and pay ritualistic respect to my grandfather at a small Buddhist convent has silently disappeared. Today, SoHo would remain sleepy most of the day, and then bursts into life after sunset. The yell of market vendors and pungent incense smoke have been replaced by causal giggles and laughter, and the smell of beer.
Further away from the Central – Mid Levels Escalators and less than 150m northwest of the buzzing SoHo, Gough Street (歌賦街), Kau U Fong (九如坊) and Aberdeen Street (鴨巴甸街) offer a much more laid-back and tranquil ambience. Once home to family run shops and small printing presses, these sleepy back streets have become a hipper cousin of the nearby SoHo. Known as NoHo for “North of Hollywood Road”, this area is particular attractive to locals who come for the foodie scene: Chinese cuisine, dai pai dong dishes, beef brisket noodles, Japanese ramen, sushi, Western fine dining, unadon, Vietnamese pho, hand-drip cafes, bubble tea, chocolate, etc. Despite its abundance of dining options, the shops here remain small and peaceful. Compared to its noisier neighbour, NoHo is much more low key, as if deliberately staying away from the public limelight. Here visitors would enjoy a sense of discovery and intimacy that is hard to find anywhere else in Central.
Named by some books and magazines as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, the T-Site by Tsutaya Books is the biggest attraction in the affluent neighborhood of Daikanyama (代官山). Designed by Tokyo firm Klein Dytham Architecture in collaboration with communication and graphic designer Kenya Hara and designer Tomoko Ikegai, the T-Site is an architectural gem in Tokyo. A web-like facade system resembles a layer of white lace wrapping the three box-like buildings. Intended to create a “Library in the Woods”, the three bookstore buildings is connected by a 55m “Magazine Street” on the ground floor and surrounded by lush green vegetation. A cafe is provided on the ground floor with views of the outdoor greenery. A more upscale lounge is located on the upper level surrounded by bookshelves holding different series of architectural and design magazines. Other than books, stationery merchandise are also impeccably displayed under atmospheric lighting. While we were there, T-Site was full of shoppers. Compared to many bookstores around the world struggling to survive in today’s digital era, T-Site is certainly a great success story.
The approach to the entrance of the T-Site resembles a short walk to a garden pavilion.
The web-like facade system resembles a layer of lace fabric made of uncounted “T”.
Outdoor spaces between the three bookstore buildings serve as garden courtyards, offering pleasant green views for the interior.
Covered with vertical strips of highly reflective stainless steel, the bridge linking the bookstore buildings appears like a sculptural feature of the architecture.
The vertical strips of the bridge match perfectly well with the lace-like wall cladding.
The shadows of the strips offer an interesting experience while crossing the bridge from one building to the other.
The green view outside and the reflected scenery on the strips create a compelling imagery like an abstract painting.
Seating in the bookstore offer various pleasant spots for visitors to enjoy a moment of peaceful reading.
There is a garden behind the three bookstore buildings. A cluster of interesting shops scatter in the garden, including a camera shop, organic eateries and lifestyle stores.
The T-Site garden is full of planting.
Outdoor sculpture can also be found in the garden as well.
We couldn’t resist but get a bowl of organic vegetable soup from an vending truck.