11 October 2010 Heritage-led Central Police Station Revitalisation Project to conserve all historic buildings and create a community asset for the public enjoyment of heritage, arts and leisure
The Development Bureau of the HKSAR Government and The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust today (11 October) jointly announced a heritage-led plan to conserve and revitalise the Central Police Station (“CPS”) and transform it into a centre of heritage, arts and leisure. The CPS is an important part of the Government’s Conserving Central initiative.
The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, said, "The revised design for the conservation and revitalisation of the Central Police Station (CPS) Compound is an exemplary outcome of embracing public views and aspirations in heritage conservation projects, and takes full account of the Government’s heritage conservation policy evolved over the last three years.
"I wish to thank the HKJC for its foresight and vision in assisting the Government to take forward which is by far the largest heritage conservation project in Hong Kong, under the auspices of a new heritage conservation policy announced by the Chief Executive in October 2007. The Government will continue to work closely with the HKJC to take forward this very meaningful conservation and revitalisation project for the enjoyment of the public."
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has agreed to support the capital cost of the revitalisation of the CPS. As a not-for-profit organisation, the Trust does not expect an investment return. The Trust has long supported heritage, arts and culture in Hong Kong, with numerous notable projects over the years, including the UNESCO award-winning preservation of Hung Shing Temple, funding the arts education-pioneering establishment of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and providing grants to the Hong Kong Arts Festival for over 30 years.
Chairman of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Mr T Brian Stevenson said, “The Charities Trust is committed to working with the community to bring a better quality of life to the people of Hong Kong. Revitalising the CPS, which embodies our collective Hong Kong memories, offers an opportunity to create an important community asset for all to enjoy. It would also add a visitor destination of unique Hong Kong character, to help enhance the regional competitiveness of Hong Kong.”
To fully understand the views of the community on the CPS, the Club conducted an extensive six month public consultation from 2007 to 2008. In 2008, the HKSAR Executive Council confirmed the Club’s not-for-profit concept to revitalise the CPS. The Government and the Club then entered into a partnership to take forward the conservation and revitalisation of the Central Police Station project.
In keeping with the heritage-led approach, an award-winning conservation architectural firm, Purcell Miller Tritton (PMT), has been retained to conduct extensive research on the history of the CPS site and to prepare a Conservation Management Plan, which sets out conservation principles for the heritage buildings.
The CPS site dates back 169 years to the beginning of Hong Kong in 1841. The site’s earliest dateable remaining structure is a prison building (D Hall) built in 1858. Other historic buildings include the Central Magistracy, a symbol of the power of the court, built in 1913, and the Headquarters Block, completed in 1919 and widely considered the public façade of the CPS. Over the last century and a half, the site has witnessed the development of the Central district and Hong Kong, and its many alterations reflect social, political and operational changes over time.
Former Commissioner of Police Mr Dick Lee, who worked at the site, commented, “Many of my former colleagues and I are grateful that this project will help preserve these historic buildings. Today’s announcement is merely the beginning of our community efforts to share our heritage stories with future generations.”
In this collaboration of internationally renowned architects, Herzog & de Meuron (HdM), PMT and Rocco Design Architects Ltd (RDA) have worked closely together and examined many different alternative schemes in order to establish the best design for adaptive re-use. The design announced today is the result of their best efforts in considering many factors, including opinions collected from the local community and arts groups, physical conditions of the site and statutory guidelines. The design responds to key findings of the public consultation in 2008, including concerns about height expressed by some regarding the option of an iconic building on the upper platform area, and wide support for revitalisation of the site for arts and leisure. 84% of the respondents felt the CPS was a valuable heritage site that should be sensitively revitalised to become a lively and integral part of the community, and 60% supported turning the site into a multi-purpose venue, integrating arts, culture and other non-profit and commercial activities.
“From our experience, unused buildings tend to deteriorate and the best way to conserve historic buildings is to adaptively re-use them,” said Mr Michael Morrison, Chairman of PMT. “To do nothing is not an option.”
The design announced today will preserve and revitalise all buildings of historical and architectural significance, 16 in total including F Hall, remembered for its use as a reception centre for prison visitors. In line with international best practices for heritage conservation and revitalisation, and given the physical constraints of the site, two new buildings will be added – the “Old Bailey Wing” and “Arbuthnot Wing” – to help minimise interventions in the heritage buildings by providing vertical circulation and other services essential for re-opening the heritage buildings for public enjoyment. The heights of Old Bailey and Arbuthnot Wings, at 25 metres above the prison yard, will fully comply with the height guideline of 80 mPD (metres above Principal Datum, 1.23 metres below Mean Sea Level) gazetted in the May 2010 Outline Zoning Plan.
“To conserve and revitalise a historic site is not about mimicking the old,” said Ascan Mergenthaler, Senior Partner in charge of the CPS project for Herzog & de Meuron. “The new structures have been inserted to accommodate new cultural programme and building services which could not find a suitable home in the historical buildings without substantial alterations. In that sense, the new buildings establish a symbiotic relationship with the heritage buildings and inject new life both programmatically and functionally. They become an integral part of this unique "collection of buildings" defining the CPS site and through their massing and architectural expression they also facilitate connectivity within the site and between adjacent areas such as Central, SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong.”
The new buildings, occupying 22% of the total floor area, will provide arts, culture and building services space which cannot be accommodated in the heritage buildings. Old Bailey Wing will provide exhibition galleries, and Arbuthnot Wing will provide a multi-purpose performance or lecture venue with approximately 200 seats. The spaces in the new buildings will be provisioned with floor loading capacity and ceiling height necessary for supporting arts exhibitions and cultural activities that are not possible in the fragile older buildings.
37% of the total floor area of 25,959 square metres will be allocated for arts and culture, including gallery, multi-purpose, library, archive and arts organisation office space. 36% of the total floor area will be for public use and plant space. F&B and retail outlets, contributing to financial sustainability, will occupy the remaining 27% of the total floor area. The tenant selection policy will ensure a range of affordability and compatibility with heritage buildings.
The prison yard and the police parade ground will also be preserved, respectively, as the upper and lower courtyards, to provide additional open space. Including these two courtyards, the total area of major open spaces at the site is over 4,000 square metres. All safe, healthy trees in these courtyards will be preserved, with more trees to be planted. A green wall will also be created in the upper courtyard. Key locations in major historic buildings will be preserved to tell the overall heritage story in a holistic manner. An open air terrace on the Old Bailey Wing will be reserved as a vantage point for the public.
In addition to the existing public entrance at Pottinger Gate, an Old Bailey Gate, an Arbuthnot Gate and a footbridge connection to the Mid-levels Escalator are planned to open up what was previously a secure compound, for easy access and enjoyment by the public. Stairs and lifts will be provided to facilitate pedestrian connectivity between the upper courtyard near Chancery Lane and lower courtyard near Hollywood Road, and between SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong.
Executive Director of RDA Rocco Yim said, “The design plan integrates the site with its local community and the public at large by giving these historic buildings new life and new meaning.”
In parallel to the design process, the arts programming direction is being developed in line with an earlier study by an internationally respected, Hong Kong-based arts research organisation, Asia Art Archive. Based on wide-ranging consultations with the local arts community, the study identifies general support for a cultural complex with museum and exhibition gallery space for contemporary art. Leading Arts Advisor David Elliott has been appointed to continue to work with the local arts community and will make further recommendations in 2011. The new buildings, combined with the idiosyncratic spaces of the site’s heritage buildings, would provide many varied opportunities to show the very best in art and performance, and could accommodate smaller shows and talented up-and-coming artists who may not otherwise have the appropriate opportunities. The facilities could also become an important centre for training curators and arts management professionals and provide new homes for some of Hong Kong’s arts organisations, enabling synergy, collaboration and showcases leveraging the unique time and space of the CPS.
The design announced is capable of creating an arts and culture hub of local and international importance. Overall, the heritage of the CPS would be brought to life through an attractive, informative and educational journey through the heritage buildings and a high quality visitor centre. A wide range of visual and performing arts and cultural activities can be accommodated in the historic buildings, new extensions and courtyard spaces. These community activities, combined with attractive gathering spaces, restaurants and retail facilities, would provide an integrated recreational retreat for both the local community and overseas visitors.
The CPS design will be subject to statutory guidelines and procedures from the Town Planning Board (Section 16), Environmental Protection Department (EIA) and Planning Department (OZP). Restoration and construction are being planned to commence in 2011.
More details about the Central Police Station Revitalisation Project can be found on the official website at www.centralpolicestation.org.hk.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Founded in 1884, The Hong Kong Jockey Club has become one of Hong Kong’s best known and respected organisations, providing the public with world-class sporting entertainment as well as being the city’s major non-Government community benefactor, now donating more than HK$1 billion a year to charitable and community projects. It has been a part of Hong Kong through good times and bad, sharing the city’s growth and development with its people, and is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for future generations.