Central Police Station shows Hong Kong can honour the past while building the future
After years of delay, a building collapse, budget blowouts and other hurdles, the Central Police Station compound has been reborn as the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, a feat underwritten and managed by the Jockey Club (“Hong Kong Central Police Station restoration: how city’s most ambitious heritage project overcame the odds”, June 15).
The enthusiastic response to its partial inauguration last month highlighted how protecting and preserving historical buildings should be among the government’s top responsibilities, and how, despite the challenges, it is possible to get it right.
The oldest structure at the Central Police Station compound is a barracks block built in 1864, which is of high historic value. In fact, it is one of three declared monuments in the compound.
Tai Kwun, or “big station” in Cantonese, is thus a part of the collective memory of Hong Kong, a reminder of the time when Hong Kong was a colony, and it tells stories from Hong Kong’s history (“Central Police Station is now the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, where fond Hong Kong tales live on”, May 29).
Even though adaptive reuse of heritage sites often generates controversy in Hong Kong, commercially viable preservation of historical buildings is what can help us Hongkongers protect and preserve our treasured memories.
The need for speedy development should not make the Hong Kong government and people forget the past or the people who built the city we enjoy today.
Fiona Kwok, Kowloon Tong