Old Supreme Court Building, Hong Kong
The Old Supreme Court Building (舊最高法院大樓), also called the Legislative Council Building (立法會大樓/立法局大樓), was the home of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1985 to 2011, and before that it housed the former Supreme Court. It is located at 8 Jackson Road, in Central, along the eastern side of Statue Square, directly west of Chater Garden. The exterior of the Old Supreme Court is one of the declared monuments of Hong Kong.
The building was designed by Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell, the British architects responsible for the eastern façade of Buckingham Palace and the Cromwell Road frontage of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Construction of the Building started in 1900 and it was opened on 15 January 1912 by the then Governor Sir Frederick Lugard. The two-storey granite building is neo-classical in style supported by Ionic columns. It is surmounted by a 2.7 m high blind-folded statue of Justice, represented by Themis, the Greek Goddess of Justice and Law. This statue is inspired by the one erected on the Old Bailey of London.
In 1978, this building was severely affected by the construction of MTR; therefore, it had to undergo some restoration afterwards. As a consequence, for a time in the early 1980s, the Supreme Court was moved to the Former French Mission Building, which was then used by the Victoria District Court.
The building became the Legislative Council Building in 1985, and the Supreme Court of Hong Kong was moved to the Supreme Court Building and remained there until 1997. It is now renamed the High Court Building.
In 2011 the Legislative Council was moved to the Legislative Council Complex within the Central Government Complex at Tamar site, and the now vacant building will revert to a judicial function, housing the Court of Final Appeal from 2015 onwards.
Previous homes of the Legislative Council
Before 1985, the Legislative Council met at other locations:
- Former French Mission Building 1843–1846
- Caine Road 1846–1855
- Government House, Hong Kong 1855; used ballroom after 1891
- Old Central Government Offices 1930s until 1954
- Former Central Government Offices 1957–1985
The Building was erected on reclaimed land. Its foundation was formed by driving hundreds of Chinese fir tree trunks into the mixture of reclamation materials and silt on the site. As a consequence, the Building is in effect "floating" on a timber raft. Such a foundation system requires the groundwater level to be maintained at a constant level, and a groundwater replenishment system is installed to replace groundwater as required.
The plan of the Building follows a rectangular pattern and is symmetrical. The Building occupies an area of around 2,660 square metres (28,600 sq ft) (about 70 by 38 metres (230 ft × 125 ft)) and is surrounded by columns. The height of the building, from street level to the highest point, which is in the form of a bronze Tudor Crown, is about 40 metres (130 ft).
A pediment surmounts the central section of the Building facing Statue Square. The pediment is topped by a Statue of Justice and under it is the inscription "Erected AD MDCCCCX" (Erected AD 1910). The pediment incorporates a semi-circular window and the carving of the British Royal Coat of Arms is above it. The shield shows the various royal emblems of the various parts of the United Kingdom: the three lions of England in the first and fourth quarters, the lion of Scotland in the second and the harp of Ireland in the third. The shield is supported by the English lion and Scottish unicorn and is surmounted by the Royal crown. The motto of the Sovereign, Dieu et mon droit (God and my right), is displayed underneath it. The figures of Mercy and Truth are located on both sides of the British Royal Coat of Arms. The coat of arms is the only colonial symbol that remains visible in Hong Kong after the 1997 handover.
Inside the building
- Central and Western Heritage Trail
- Former Central Magistracy
- List of buildings and structures in Hong Kong
- Macau Legislative Assembly Building and Leal Senado
- Picturesque Hong Kong: a handbook for travellers. Hong Kong: Tillotson & Sons. 1911.
- Legislative Council Secretariat: Information note IN26/02-03: The Legislative Council Building
- "The Legislative Council Building". Legislative Council. Archived from the original on November 23, 2011.
- Roberts, Denys (Apr 18, 2006). Another Disaster: Hong Kong Sketches. The Radcliffe Press. pp. 87–88. ISBN 9781845111120.
- "CE lays out his vision for a greener and more vibrant Hong Kong", Hong Kong Government Press Releases, October 14, 2009.
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