Hong Kong's Two Major Revitalization Projects in Central District: Tai Kwun & PMQ 香港中环黄金地段的活化古建筑：大馆、元创方
There probably isn’t a city dweller passing by the Central district in Hong Kong who doesn’t notice the looming colonial buildings smack dab in the middle of Hollywood Road, replete with huge arched windows, ionic columns, and handsome granite and brick façades. This is Tai Kwun (meaning ‘Big Station’), Hong Kong’s centre for heritage and arts, a non-profit cultural revitalisation project that likely remains the city’s largest yet. Hong Kong is home to many of the world’s leading commercial galleries but has always lacked a museum-standard not-for-profit art space. Tai Kwun Contemporary fills that gap.
Tai Kwun is located on Hollywood Road at the Central district. There are three monuments in the building complex: the old Central Police Station, the former Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. The Central Police Station was built in 1864 and is an original three-storey classical building. The original site is adjacent to the former Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison, which also have a long history, and developed into a historical and cultural tourist area. Tai Kwun is now a heritage and art museum dedicated to bringing a rich and exciting heritage and artistic experience to Hong Kong.
Aside from a bevvy of heritage experiences, thematic art exhibitions, and immersive public programmes, this gorgeous compound is also home to some fantastic bars and restaurants.
As part of the preservation efforts, some cells that were part of the old Victoria Prison have been retained and open for the public to visit. Head over to D Hall to find a number of old prison cells with their original numbers and locks intact. They have now been converted into heritage storytelling spaces that pay tribute to its former life, and are a fascinating look into Hong Kong penal system that used to be inaccessible to the public.
It may not sound like a huge deal, but Tai Kwun provides a rare courtyard area that is open for public use. Considering that our city is so dense, it’s incredible to have a dedicated space right in the heart of it all that is deliberately kept empty and wide open.
Smack in the middle of Central district, PMQ is one of the only places in Hong Kong that is fully dedicated to indie design. With more than a century of history, this building used to be the colonial-era Police Married Quarters (hence the name), so you can expect cool architecture alongside a groundswell of creativity. It is not a single boutique, but rather a complex of dozens of buzzing workshops, studios, and ateliers from the coolest labels in town.
If you have all the time in the world, wander through the industrial hallways, chat with designers in their studios, or join an ad hoc leather, jewelry or baking workshop. There are dozens of tiny studios and workshops to discover. You’ll likely meet many of the designers personally, which can create a lasting bond with the brand, or even watch artisans craft silver jewelry, eyeglasses, and leather shoes. And if you’re lucky enough to time your visit with one of the regular pop-ups, markets, and art events, you’ll really see what this creative community is all about.