Shrinking down the city

Shrinking down the city

One young man is passionate about replicating Hong Kong culture in miniature

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Brian Wong preserves old buildings through his miniature models.
Brian Wong preserves old buildings through his miniature models.
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP
Brian Wong Kun-yu has a quality not many young people possess - the 22-year-old admires things that are old.

"I love visiting Hong Kong Island to look at the colonial buildings and the old shops and streets," he says.

Wong loves these "cultural treasures" so much that he makes miniature models of them.

"I used to collect bus models and I wanted to create a setting for my buses so that I could participate in a bus modelling competition," says Wong. "That's how I started making miniature models."

As a child, Wong often visited the old streets of Wan Chai to shop for toys. Each time, he would walk past Lung Moon Restaurant, a former Wan Chai landmark that dates back to the 1950s.

"I had never gone to the restaurant for yum cha but I really loved the building," he says. "It stands out from the modern skyscrapers that surround it."

First, Wong took photos of the building, then studied them carefully to make sure he did not miss out any details. Every feature - from windows to lamp posts - was represented in Wong's replica.

"I make most of the structures with cardboard and model paint," says Wong. "The challenge is building the model with the right proportions. I built Lung Moon based on the scale of the bus model, which is 1:76. It was very difficult to calculate exactly the height and length of the structure."

Looking back, Wong feels very lucky that he chose to build the restaurant model.

"I built the model in 2007, and in 2009, Lung Moon closed down to make way for redevelopment," he says. "It was one of the few old-fashioned Chinese restaurants left in Hong Kong that had a whole building to call its own. It was a pity to see it disappear. I am very lucky that I have my own mini-version of it."

Building replicas on a much smaller scale is no easy task. This can take years to finish.

"I build my models bit by bit," says Wong. "The restaurant took me three months, and I was told that some model builders take three years to finish one setting."

Wong started building models six years ago, and has created three masterpieces since then. He never thought about exhibiting his work - until he was invited to showcase his talents at Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay.

"It is a great honour to be able to display my work publicly," says Wong. "It inspires me when I hear visitors say that my models look like the real thing."

In the future, Wong plans to build more replicas of old buildings in Hong Kong, but his greatest passion is still buses. With more than 340 bus models at home, he needs more settings to showcase his collection.

"I've always loved buses," he says. "Next month, it would be three years since I got my driver's licence, and the first thing I am going to do is apply to be a bus driver."

To see Wong's and other artists' models, visit The Good Old Shops in Miniature exhibition at Telford Plaza, Kowloon Bay, until June 16

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