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32 PROJECT REPORT: HERITAGE & CONSERVATION


areas that should be retained, as well as the scope for change.


Much of Hong Kong’s colonial architecture has been demolished over the years, with buildings, often of historic merit, replaced with the high-rises that characterise the area. The city now holds the largest number of skyscrapers in the world – making the Tai Kwun Centre a unique oasis, sitting on highly sought-after land in the city’s prime central business district.


The Centre has been both restored and revitalised, providing a permeable site of significant heritage. Now open to the public, the area has been turned into a thriving 3.37 acre cultural hub, with 16 restored heritage buildings nestled between the many towers of Hong Kong Island. As well as hosting frequent shows and exhibitions, it includes areas educating visitors on heritage alongside its numerous retail and restaurant offerings.


A rich heritage


The site comprises three main historical elements, their functions split across several buildings: the former Victoria Prison, the Central Police Station, and the Central Magistracy – the combination originally intended as a holistic approach to processing criminals. Previously titled the Central Police Compound, the fortress-like site was constructed and redeveloped gradually from the 1840s onwards, and also contains various living quarters, an armoury, and a barracks. The magistrates courts served as a venue for war crimes trials post-WWII, and the prison was later re-opened for use by the Immigration Department, but by the late 20th century most inmates had been transferred to a nearby prison. In 1993, the Hong Kong Government realised the potential of the site as a heritage asset, declaring it as an official monument, and commenced moves to transform the area to its current use. Tenders were put out to various developers to get expressions of interest for a “revitalisation” project, and after some deliberation, the proposal from The Hong Kong Jockey Club – a not-for-profit organisation that controls all gambling in Hong Kong – was accepted. A 2007 public consultation was followed by Purcell’s appointment in 2008.


The conservation specialist architects were brought in to produce the masterplan that would inform the client’s development proposals. “The conservation management plan is a detailed piece of


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK ADF MARCH 2019


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