Tai Kwun, heart of Central

Central Hong Kong

Today’s article is about an old place Hong Kongers know well. Sitting between Central and Mid-levels, surrounded by Chancery Lane, Old Bailey Street and Hollywood Road, Tai Kwun is what used to be the Central Police Station compound. It is now a centre for heritage and arts, fostering artists and multiple exhibitions. After 8 years of work and 3.8 billion HKD expenses, the Centre opened in May 2018.

One of the oldest buildings on the site, the Barrack Block appeared between 1862 and 1864. In the turbulent decades of the early 20th century, refugees came spilling into Hong Kong from war-torn Mainland China. Thus, the colony’s population increased rapidly, creating law and order challenges. As a result, Hong Kong’s police resources increased. And the compound underwent several expansions between 1905 and 1925.

Also, the site itself comprises three declared monuments. They are the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. The name “Tai Kwun” in Chinese means “big station”, referring to the old police complex. The former Central Magistracy is a Greek-revival style edifice from 1914. The two courts here served the entire colony. And the building’s commanding façade was designed to impress the population with the majesty of the law. In addition to this, some structures are of late Victorian era architectural style, while some smaller edifices carry traces of eastern looking style.

Then, Tai Kwun aspires to offer the best heritage and arts experiences, and to cultivate knowledge and appreciation of contemporary art, performing arts and history in the community.

The revitalisation project has been led by The Hong Kong Jockey Club in partnership with the Government of the Hong Kong SAR. It is now a radiant environment, offering exhibition spaces, free visits of the former prison cells, restaurants and more.

Furthermore, Tai Kwun’s performing arts programmes aim to bring to life the many remarkable spaces. Both indoors and outdoors, through events which have been designed and tailored to suit these unique venues. JC Cube, the Laundry Steps, the Prison Yard and the Parade Ground will become performance spaces for theatre, music, dance and film, with a wide range of programming to appeal to all audiences. Whether you would like to go to the museum, have a drink on a Friday evening or just walk through the courtyard, the aesthetics of the place are welcoming.

Additionally, more than 170 years of history unfold in here. Through interactive tours, heritage storytelling spaces, diverse education programmes and thematic heritage and community exhibitions. Recently, visitors were able to enjoy an exhibition by Takashi Murakami, simply named “Murakami vs. Murakami”. History, performances, modern arts, restaurants and shops coexist in this space dedicated to culture and crafts. In short, Hong Kong rich and tumultuous history can be, in parts, witnessed here. A unique destination!