The Engineer's Office of the Former Pumping Station, Water Supplies Department, sometimes called "The Red Brick House" (紅磚屋), is located at No. 344 Shanghai Street
, in Yau Ma Tei
, Hong Kong
. It has been classified as a Grade I historical building since 2000 by the Antiquities Advisory Board in view of its historical and architectural merit. It is now owned by the HKSAR Government.
The building with two storey is built in a colonial Neo-Classical style with Arts and Crafts influence. The most significant feature of the building is the red brick façade. This refers to the construction of the walls of the building by red bricks, which account for the name "Red Brick House".
Being a former pumping station, the architecture of the building is of utilitarian design, which is also a typical example of the British industrial building. The building does not consist of much decoration, there are only some decorative brickwork features and ironwork balustrading.
There are not much structural alteration to the building. The pitched roof is finished with double layer Chinese clay tiles, with a single chimney stack and flue openings projects above the ridge. The windows of the building consist of wooden casements incorporated in window openings with granite cills and lintels. Above the lintels, there are rough brick relieving arches. Ornamental ironwork balustrades with granite copings is retained from an arched verandah, which is now enclosed with windows. Doors of the building which are cross braced and battened, are also made of wood. Cast-iron rainwater pipes, hopper heads and gutters along the wall of the building also have exectional level of significance to the building.
Inside the building, there are arched verandah and internal arcades on the ground floor. The walls are plastered and painted and the floor is screeded. For the first floor, the original wooden doors and windows, cornices, skirtings and floor boarding are still presented.
In early 2000, the sole surviving building of former pumping station was slated for demolition in preparation for the 36-storey, twin-tower residential project, No. 8 Waterloo Road
, which was jointly developed by the Land Development Corporation (the predecessor of the Urban Renewal Authority) and Sun Hung Kai Properties.
At that time, the original identity of the building had been forgotten and it was simply referred to as "Red Brick House".
During the process of the study, two heritage specialists from The University of Hong Kong
, Dr. Lee Ho Yin and Dr. Lynne DiStefano, raised questions about the original function of the anonymous Red Brick House.
The original identity and usage of the building was revealed when the original architectural drawings were found by an old British engineer at Water Supplies Department. In view of the building's historical significance and rarity, it was awarded a Grade I Historical Building status in 2000 and recommended for conservation. As a result, the building cannot be demolished. Therefore, Land Development Corporation and Sun Hung Kai Properties had to adjust the development plans to accommodate the 36-storey building on the site, without any influence on the engineer's office of the former pumping station.
The building is now vacant awaiting a suitable adaptive re-use. It is proposed that the Red Brick Building will revitalize in conjunction with the Yau Ma Tei Theatre as a Xiqu (戲曲) Activity Centre, providing a performing and practicing venue for small-scale Cantonese Opera performance. It would also serve as training venue for budding artists. This revitalization project was endorsed by the Public Works Subcommittee of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council at its meeting on January 21, 2009.