Tai Kwun, Centre for Heritage and Arts

The Hong Kong Jockey Club CPS Limited

Forming a unique cluster of heritage buildings located at the heart of the Central district, the Central Police Station compound—now known as Tai Kwun, Centre for Heritage and Arts—once served as an important base for law and order in Hong Kong. Formally a“one-stop-shop”facility housing a police station, a prison, and a magistracy, the site was fully decommissioned in 2006.

In 2008, the Government of Hong Kong SAR announced its partnership with The Hong Kong Jockey Club to revitalise the Central Police Station compound, and a few years later, Marc & Chantal was given the incredible opportunity to be the creative partners of this one-of-a-kind project.

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The challenge

Our team’s first mission was to articulate a strong vision for the experience that this exceptional site was destined to offer. We started by seeking the answers to a long list of questions—Who will visit the site? What do they want to see? How will the space be used?...

Our Approach

Working closely with The Hong Kong Jockey Club and a third party consultant, we conducted engagement exercises with various parties of stakeholders to understand their perceptions, aspirations and motivations. Combining these findings with a comprehensive benchmarking of both local and international cultural venues, we were able to formulate an original experience model in which heritage, arts and leisure are creatively integrated.

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- Fusing the past and the future -
Using our naming strategy, we explored various options that followed a thematic approach. In the end, the name [大館] ‘Tai Kwun’ (literally ‘Big House’) was adopted—a term that was once used colloquially amongst locals to refer to the Central Police Station compound.

We then created a simple yet memorable logomark through combining the pitched roof of the heritage buildings and the cubed shape of the new buildings designed by Herzog & de Meuron.

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- A playful twist -
Designed to fit within a system of shapes that reflect the diversity in the buildings found on the site, we also developed a flexible pattern that playfully hints at the village-like atmosphere of the unique cluster of structures. The logo and patterns were adapted by the talented team at Tai Kwun, and used on various items now sold at the Tai Kwun Store!

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- Heritage Interpretation -
Our team took a keen interest in the content development aspect of the project. Through close collaboration with the Heritage Team at Tai Kwun, we were able to develop meaningful and creative interpretations of the extensive research conducted about the site. These spaces are distributed throughout the site, with each key heritage building housing a permanent exhibition telling the story of the Central Police Station compound and its occupants.

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- Creative collaborations -
We also worked closely with other creative contributors, including historians, audio and video production artists, model makers…and with the local urban sketcher, Noble, whom we worked with for the storytelling murals found throughout the site. We chose Noble in particular because we fell in love with the ‘from life’ look and feel of his sketches, which are not overly stylized or polished.