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[News from HKGBC Patron Member - Arup] Tai Kwun: Adaptive reuse to transform a Hong Kong landmark

27 Nov 2018

Tai Kwun - Centre for Heritage and Arts is Hong Kong’s largest ever historic building revitalisation project, transforming the city’s over 170-year-old Central Police Station compound into a new art and cultural centre.
With seamless collaboration with the team and local approval authorities, and with support from our London office, Arup has successfully retained, repaired and strengthened these unique historic buildings for adaptive reuse – promoting sustainability through creating new environmental, social and cultural values for the compound and for the community.

Led by the Hong Kong Jockey Club in partnership with the Hong Kong Government, the project involved conservation of 16 historic buildings on the declared monument site comprising the Police Headquarters, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison and the addition of two iconic buildings designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron.

Arup has been involved in the project since 2007, providing multidisciplinary engineering services including structural, civil and geotechnical engineering as well as façade, lighting, fire, materials and security consultancy, at the same time ensuring that the project was carried out in the most sustainable fashion.

Adaptive reuse of heritage fabric

During our investigation works of the existing buildings’ structural elements at the early stage, we discovered an unusual type of reinforcement inside the concrete floor slabs. To maximise the reuse of the existing structures, we have conducted materials tests and proved the technical viability of reusing the existing slabs with this reinforcement to the authorities, thus avoiding extensive recasting of floor slabs in both the Police Headquarters Block and the Central Magistracy. Not only did we conserve the structure of the historic buildings, but we also minimised material use and construction waste.

Bespoke façades made of sustainable materials

Sustainable materials are also adopted in the new buildings, JC Contemporary and JC Cube, which provide space for exhibitions and performing arts. Take the bespoke cast aluminium brick façade that wraps the two buildings as an example – the aluminium bricks were made from 100% recycled alloy wheels. The design also echoes the scale of the existing granite wall over which the new buildings emerge.


A “courtyard” for all

Standing in sharp contrast to the surrounding commercial towers, Tai Kwun today provides a rare “courtyard” in the middle of one of the densest cities in the world for the public to enjoy the scenery, tranquillity and the city’s heritage.

Tai Kwun has welcomed more than one million visitors since its opening, and recently listed on TIME’s 2018 edition of the World’s 100 Greatest Places.