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34 PROJECT REPORT: HERITAGE & CONSERVATION


gallery, and an auditorium (pictured, left). The Prison Yard is the third and final open space, facing the historical street Chancery Lane, that runs along the south wall. Once imposing and forbidding, the new space has been dedicated to cultural programming. Visitors are also able to enter this half of the site from gates on both the east and western side. Halls A to F of the new Centre are the former buildings making up Victoria Prison – Hong Kong’s earliest and longest running prison, completed in 1841 and retaining a Victorian facade. It was later redeveloped into a radial form, a popular prison model with a central inspector’s area with multiple wings off it, emulating Pentonville Prison in London. Some of the halls have been restored to their original form, for visitors to learn about the prison and the lives of its inmates – which at one point included Vietnam’s former leader Ho Chi Minh – others have been repurposed for office space, restaurants, and back-of- house facilities.


Among these halls is a prison block that has been left as an “interpretation space,” with cells unaltered from their last period of occupation. “That provides a really good sense of what the prisoners were feeling like,” says Gary, “especially during the summer months – we haven’t installed any air conditioning, so you really get a sense of what the prisoners were facing.” This is a key example of Purcell’s adopted approach of “minimal intervention” when it came to restoration.


Careful restoration The buildings on the site, and its “interpretation spaces” in particular, had be treated with great care in order to be restored to their former states, with some areas requiring work to meet modern building codes. Key to restoration works were detailed analyses and conservation cleaning, with the colour scheme of the walls and joinery, for example, being reverted back to their authentic look through paint analysis, and tiles being painstakingly restored.


Purcell discovered evidence of previous generations of paint beneath the current decoration, and in the police compound, which was painted a very bright blue, in the 1980s, the decision was made to restore internally back to the dark brown of the original design. Almost all of the buildings were brought back to their original colour schemes in the project.


Conservation cleaning was undertaken WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK ADF MARCH 2019


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