Herzog & de Meuron transforms colonial buildings in Hong Kong into Tai Kwun art centre

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Swiss agency Herzog & de Meuron has transformed a collection of historic properties in Hong Kong into a vast arts intricate, for the city’s major heritage conservation project so far.

The Tai Kwun art and heritage centre spans 27,000 sq. metres throughout a sloping web-site, reflective of Hong Kong Island’s mountainous terrain.

Herzog & de Meuron combined conservation and adaptive reuse to preserve the city’s former main police station, central magistracy, and prison, established by the British after they took control of the territory in 1841.

Almost all of the town’s colonial architecture wasn’t guarded, and as a consequence bulldozed for redevelopment.

The studio has also added two new structures to the site, which was decommissioned and vacated in 2006, bringing the total number of buildings to 16. Overall, the transformation makes Tai Kwun the largest heritage conservation project in Hong Kong.


“What We’ve carried out in Hong Kong is to transform a former law enforcement station into a cultural centre,” mentioned Herzog & de Meuron. “In Hong Kong in addition to in Mainland China this continues to be a very new method of architecture – an abnormal matter to perform because Usually old structures and complete neighbourhoods are being removed and being changed by new kinds.”

Working with British conservation architecture firm Purcell, Herzog & de Meuron preserved the outdoor corridors, arches and pillars of the old brick structures. A series of outdoor staircases connect the site’s numerous walkways and alleys.


Related story M+ museum opens first gallery in West Kowloon Cultural District

Tai Kwun is positioned on the corner great deal and it is walled-in with masonry constructions alongside Hollywood Street and Chancery Lane. Their gabled roofs mirror a bygone era in the skyscraper-prevalent city.

Visitors walk through the main gates, past a series of former administrative buildings, and into the main plaza and former Victoria Prison. The prison now a museum that recounts the its former use, with many of the cells in their original conditions.

As a whole, Tai Kwun arranged around two large courtyards: the Parade Ground and the Prison Yard. “From an urban perspective, the compound is a rare ‘courtyard’ in the middle of one of the densest cities in the world,” Herzog & de Meuron said.

At the rear of the complex is a high masonry wall, which tops out at a sidewalk to reveal Hong Kong’s towering cityscape. Here, the two new buildings by the firm have a contemporary design language that contrasts with the surrounding historic structures.

Equally are square-formed and clad with Forged aluminium facades. The grid method usually takes cues on the bricks used somewhere else, but in addition serves as Sunshine shading and rain safety in Hong Kong’s subtropical local weather.

On the southeast corner of Tai Kwun is a new wing on Arbuthnot Road, with a volume that hovers above the retaining wall to create a covered public outdoor space, with stairs that also serve as seating.


Over the way is really a up to date art museum with a restaurant on its best amount. Within is a strong concrete materiality, reflective with the prison cells nearby, plus a concrete spiral staircase that spans the setting up.

Herzog & de Meuron is also working on another museum in Hong Kong – the M+ Museum in the Kowloon area – and has a wide portfolio of cultural projects globally, including the National Library of Israel and the Museum of the 20th Century in Berlin.


The studio’s capability to flip decommissioned historic buildings into spectacular exhibition Areas was demonstrated on the Tate Fashionable gallery inside of a former London energy station, which also received a present-day addition in 2016.

Photography is by Iwan Baan.


Task credits:

Associates in cost: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ascan Mergenthaler
Job administrators: Edman Choy, Vladimir Pajkic
Challenge supervisor: Chi-Yan Chan
Job group: Raymond Jr Gaëtan, Abdulfatah Adan, Roman Aebi, Maximilian Beckenbauer, Aurélie Blanchard, Emi Jean Bryan, Alexander Bürgi, Soohyun Chang, Julien Combes, Massimo Corradi, Duarte De Azevedo Coutinho Lobo Antunes, Dorothee Dietz, Peter Dougherty, Piotr Fortuna, Luis Gisler, Carl Kristoffer Hägerström, Kelvin Ho, Justin Hui, Kentaro Ishida, Anna Jach, Sara Jardim Manteigas, Hauke Jungjohann, Anssi Kankkunen, Rina Ko, Johannes Rudolf Kohnle, Dannes Kok, Pawel Krzeminski, Jin Tack Lim, Mark Loughnan, Jaroslav Mach, Donald Mak, James Albert Martin, José Ramón Mayoral Moratilla, Olivier Meystre, Lukas Nordström, Cristian Oprea, Leonardo Pérez-Alonso, Thomas Polster, Maki Portilla Kawamura, Tom Powell, Günter Schwob, Oana Stanescu, Kai Strehlke, Fumiko Takahama, Zachary Vourlas, Kenneth Wong, Sung Goo Yang, Daniela Zimmer
Govt architect: Rocco Structure Architects Ltd
Conservation architect: Purcell
Historic properties: Stonewest Ltd, Yau Lee Development Co Ltd, Harvest Century Holdings
Structural, civil, facade and lighting engineer: Arup
Landscape architect: AECOM
Shopper: The Hong Kong Jockey Club

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