Herzog and de Meuron transform historic Hong Kong police station and prison compound into arts venue

From an urban perspective, the compound is a rare ‘courtyard’ in the middle of one of the densest cities in the world. Our goal was to preserve its openness and distinct character, and to reactivate it for public use
– Herzog and de Meuron

Herzog and de Meuron have completed their latest cultural project: a museum and arts complex spread inside a walled compound of heritage justice buildings on Hong Kong Island.

A dramatic light show marked the opening of the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts on 25 May, with 150 guests in attendance, including the administrative region’s chief executive Carrie Lam.

Over twelve years, the Swiss architects have carefully restored 16 historic buildings, once home to three declared monuments: The Central Police Station, the Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. Eleven of these have been opened to the public, and here visitors can learn about Tai Kwun’s judicial and law enforcement history. Conservation and heritage architects Purcell and executive architects Rocco Design have also been heavily involved in the project.

In addition, two interconnected new buildings have been built, and appear to float tightly above the surrounding granite walls. These are the JC Contemporary, a gallery building with a contemporary art space, and JC Cube, an auditorium building for the performing arts, film screenings and educational events. Both are clad with a façade unit system of 100% recycled cast aluminium.

In its entirety, the complex spans around 28,000sq m (301,000sq ft) and also includes two large outdoor areas – the former Parade Ground and the Prison Yard.

The project has been developed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, a horse racing and community organisation that us one of the oldest institutions in Hong Kong.

In a statement posted on their website, Herzog and de Meuron said: “From an urban perspective, the compound is a rare ‘courtyard’ in the middle of one of the densest cities in the world. Our goal was to preserve its openness and distinct character, and to reactivate it for public use as a new type of urban ‘found space’. For this purpose, we implemented measures in order to allow access to the site from various new places by means of specifically designed staircases, bridges or breakthroughs.

“The new interventions are conceived as two distinctive but simple volumes, developed in consideration of important contextual qualities: to maintain the horizontal character of the site, to preserve the existing open spaces, and to carefully insert new elements within the fabric of existing buildings. “

Remarking on the opening of the complex, Lam said: “The conservation of the Central Police Station compound was conceived and presented as a gift to the people of Hong Kong in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

“After more than a decade of dedication, patience and perseverance on the part of the Jockey Club and the many experts and workers involved, the people can now rejoice at the grandeur of the gift they have received.”

Herzog and de Meuron  Hong Kong  Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts  Carrie Lam 
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Herzog and de Meuron have completed their latest cultural project: a museum and arts complex spread inside a walled compound of heritage justice buildings on Hong Kong Island. A dramatic light show marked the opening of the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts on 25 May, with 150 guests in attendance, including the administrative region’s chief executive Carrie Lam. Over twelve years, the Swiss architects have carefully restored 16
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Over twelve years, the Swiss architects have carefully restored 16 historic buildings, once home to three declared monuments / Herzog & de Meuron
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Herzog and de Meuron transform historic Hong Kong police station and prison compound into arts venue
Herzog and de Meuron have completed their latest cultural project: a museum and arts complex spread inside a walled compound of heritage justice buildings on Hong Kong Island.