• Tzu Chi Environmental Action Centre Opens

    30 December 2021

    The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Hong Kong Ltd. (hereafter “Tzu Chi Hong Kong”) today announced the Tzu Chi Environmental Action Center (“Action Center”) located on 5 Che Kung Miu Road will open to the public for free starting 20 November after green restoration of its original building.

    The Action Center’s environmental programmes, exhibitions and related expenses, is funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. Setting “Common Understanding, Common Consensus, Collective Action” as its core values, the Action Center aims to promote the public’s awareness of environmental protection that would lead to positive behavioral changes, and hopefully through the strength of collective action to implement environmental protection for body-mind-earth connection, our planet and home could be safeguarded by tackling climatic changes.

    Back in 1950s Hong Kong’s economy had yet to take off and the school dropout rate among rural children was high. A Buddhist Free School was opened in 1954 at the site of now Action Center to provide basic education for children living in the neighborhood, thanks to the generous donation by overseas Chinese Boon Haw AW and Boon Par AW.  In 1982, the school operator Chi Hong Ching Yuen relocated the then-Primary School to a new campus in Yuen Chau Kok, Shatin. After that, the premises was converted into Chi Hong Kindergarten that continued to serve the community until year 2000. Chi Hong Ching Yuen then donated the premises to Tzu Chi Hong Kong for charity purposes after the school building was left vacant for two years. As the structure itself is a typical village school built with local materials, a large part of it was in a state of dilapidation after six decades of rains and winds.  Hence, a large-scale restoration project was taken place in 2019 to strengthen its entire architecture, preparing it for the next phase of journey.

    Tzu Chi Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Officer Chung Ling SZE said, “Despite the moderate size of this Action Center, our thoughtful touches throughout the restoration process can be easily seen anywhere. We follow the 7Rs Rule closely – we RESPECT all things, both animate and inanimate; REPAIR things to make them durable as much as possible; RECYCLE all resources in a systematically way; REFUSE excessive consumption and packaging; encourage to REDUCE at source; REUSE whenever possible; and RETHINK the importance of the symbiosis between humans and Earth and promote it – making the Action Center an ideal eco-education place for the public to engage in experiential learning on environmental protection through ‘Common Understanding, Common Consensus, Collective Action’. I would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust for its donation to support the environmental programmes of the Action Center, exhibitions and related expenses.” 

    This green restoration project, revolving around the fundamental concept of “Biophilic Design” is intended to bring visitors closer to the nature. The building uses daylighting and natural ventilation, so as to connect the exterior scenery with the interior. The project’s architect Corrin CHAN said, “Tzu Chi Hong Kong has long been committed to promoting environmental protection in Hong Kong for many years, advocating ‘Purification at Source’ and emphasizing the actual practice of environmental protection. This explains why eco-friendly renovation appears to be the topmost option. Such transformation has established dialogues between the then and now, using green architecture as a means of expressing the Action Center’s aim of promoting environmental protection.”

    Sticking to the 7Rs Spirit, all restoration works were completed with the use of green building materials, including fast-growing eco-bamboos which were used as an alternative to wood on flooring, wall finishes, doors, window frames, windowsills, outdoor fences, and staircase along with handrails; eco-friendly paints with low VOC (volatile organic compound) applied on the exterior and interior of the building; and Palm Eco Board. The rest of materials are: “Da Ai Eco Plastic Wood” made from PET bottles and PE milk bottles; “Ji Si Eco Inter-locking Bricks” made from the PE lining of disposed paper containers; as well as the DIY Yellow Sand Bricks handmade by volunteers. In addition, all wall and floor tiles of the site were donated by a local developer which has been keeping the surplus materials from other construction projects in the warehouse, so as to REDUCE at source.  

    The solar-powered panels installed atop the building can cover all necessary electricity demand for the structure. Aiming at carbon neutrality, excess power can be fed to the central power grid. The rainwater collection system provides water resources for irrigation and partly for daily cleaning use.

    Two exhibitions, both echoing environmental concern, will be concurrently staged in the Action Center. The inaugural exhibition Common Understanding · Common Consensus · Collective Action staged at “The Planet Room”, presents the catastrophic imprint on the earth caused by wind disasters, flooding, water pollution, forest fires, and human behaviors through a variety of installations and exhibits, allowing visitors to experience and reflect on the symbiotic relationship between human beings and Earth, thereby awakening them to induce individual habitual changes so that they can take action for environmental cause. Carbon Reveries designed by the artist Chris CHEUNG (h0nh1m) is an interactive ink art installation recording the astonishing annual increase of carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere through the data analysis of climate changes in the past 63 years.

    “Jockey Club Eco Co-Creation Space” presents a themed exhibition A Breeze from the Woods implementing the principles of the Action Center. In the exhibition the woodwork artist Che LAM delivers the concept of ocean conservation through 108 hand-made wooden sharks of various sizes. Other works include wooden stools and wooden radios illustrate endless possibilities of wood remodeling.

    Other visit-worthy spaces in the Action Center include “Da Ai Technology Room” displaying the achievements of using technology in recycled materials; “Ethical Eating Room”, providing a glimpse of vegetarian dining culture and offering vegetarian cooking classes; and “Jing Si Humanistic Culture Room” promoting kindness and love to purify soul. The Action Center handles recycling and sorting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so as to encourage volunteers and visitors to practice environmental protection in person. Yuk Lin CHOW, a veteran volunteer at Tzu Chi Hong Kong said, “We are very fortunate to have taken a tougher road by restoring the premises. As opposed to demolition and reconstruction, not only can the restoration preserve the structure but also the original intention of the building at the time of construction, that is, to carry on the original intention of providing education. I hope that the founding of the Tzu Chi Environmental Action Center will further enhance Tzu Chi’s environmental protection concept of ‘Purification at Source and Quality Classification’. Through exhibitions and other activities, we strive to educate the public on the benefits of environmental protection and reduce unnecessary material consumption, thereby enabling the harmonic co-existence between mankind and Earth’s resources.”

    Tzu Chi Environmental Action Center

    Address:5 Che Kung Miu Road, Tai Wai
    Opening Hours:10:00-12:30 and 13:30-17:00 Mondays, Wednesdays to Sundays (Closed on Tuesdays and Public holidays)
    Telephone:2337 0158
    Fee:Free Admission *To avoid overcrowding, visitors are advised to register on Action Center official website before visiting. Walk-in visits will be subject to availability.
    Website:www.tzuchieac.org.hk
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