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Hong Kong’s largest heritage conservation project opens to public

Jenny Ho Jenny Ho East Asia Press Office,Hong Kong
13 June 2018

The historic Central Police Station (CPS) compound has been successfully transformed into a vibrant cultural and arts hub. Now named Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts, the once closed complex opened its doors to the public on 29 May 2018.

Led by the Hong Kong Jockey Club in partnership with the Government of the HKSAR, the city’s biggest ever revitalisation project involves conservation of 16 historic buildings (some of them more than 150 years old) and addition of two new buildings. 

Arup has been involved in the project since 2007, providing total engineering services, including structural, civil and geotechnical engineering and façade, lighting, fire, materials and security consultancy.

With seamless collaboration with the team and local approval authorities especially the specialist conservation architect Purcell and with support from our London office, we have successfully retained, repaired and strengthened invaluable historic buildings for adaptive re-use. Overall stability of the buildings has been enhanced with minimum and reversible structural interventions – setting a benchmark for future revitalisation projects in Hong Kong.

Tai Kwun opened to the public with magic light shows.

Designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the two new iconic buildings, JC Contemporary and JC Cube, provide additional floor space for art exhibitions and performances. The façades feature interlocking aluminum bricks fabricated using 100% recycled aluminum from alloy wheels, echoing the granite blocks of the existing revetment walls.   

We have introduced an innovative piling system for foundation of the two new buildings and underpinning work for two existing buildings, minimising the geotechnical works to be carried out in a mid-level site where bedrock is over 100m below ground. This also minimised impact on the historic buildings with reduced vibration and settlement.

Elegant footbridges and walkways were designed and new openings were also formed in the revetment walls and buildings to enhance pedestrian access to the compound and connectivity within.  

We also developed a lighting scheme for the public routes and spaces, with minimal impact on the surrounding heritage façade while lighting these areas at night. 

Tai Kwun (or Big Station) is the colloquial name for the 13,600m2 compound. The name has been adopted as a reminder of the historical importance of the site.