Hong Kong – While rich in commercial gallery spaces, the area comprised by the Central and Western and Wan Chai districts was looking to improve its limited offer of not-for-profit art venues. This year, the city’s Jockey Club responded with a 1,500 sq-m cultural spot in Central: the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts.
But they didn’t start from scratch: much like anything Hong Kong, it’s a mix of old and new, as Herzog & de Meuron renovated the CPS, a colonial-era police station complex. And that past is certainly not forgotten: its inaugural exhibition is 100 Faces of Tai Kwun, an immersive tour that links the former occupants of the building to the shop owners, neighbours and even former offenders who interacted with them.
The exhibition, designed by Ado Culture, uses a wireframe skeleton structure to drive visitors back to Central’s former appearance: a black thread brings together the familiar colonnades, verandahs and signboards of the tong lau – the local name for the tenement buildings that populated the city until the 1960s – and a group of illustrations, portraits and movies that tell the stories of the people who inhabited and interacted with these spaces. ‘This is an investigation of the intricate relationships among the people in neighbourhood, whose lives intertwined with this station,’ explained Ado Culture’s Kit Cheuk. ‘Their stories unveil the heart and soul of Tai Kwun.’