In his Policy Address of 2009-10, Donald Tsang, the former Chief Executive of Hong Kong, proposed a new initiative called Conserving Central, aimed at achieving a balance between development and conservation. From this, the transformation of the former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road marked the first collaborative effort between the government and private enterprise, resulting in a community-centred hub where creativity is celebrated
Opened just a few months ago, the transformation of the former Police Married Quarters (PMQ)
on Hollywood Road has been nothing short of remarkable. Now a landmark destination for Hong Kong's creative industries, the conservation and renovation of this historical Grade III historical building has literally rejuvenated a slightly run-down part of Central.
Located in the heart of SoHo between Hollywood Road and Staunton Street — right next to the Dr Sun Yat-sen Heritage Trail — PMQ comprises two residential blocks and an ancillary Junior Police Call clubhouse built in 1951. Its peerless heritage doesn't end there, for PMQ also perches over the underground remains of Victoria College, formerly named the Central School, which had been founded on Gough Street in 1962. Moving to its new premises in 1889, it was the first Government school to provide upper primary and secondary western education to the public, marking a new phase in the development of public education in Hong Kong.
The school was severely damaged during World War II, and demolished in 1948 to make way for PMQ, the first police quarters to provide accommodation for married rank and file officers, including locals, to enhance the morale of junior police officers. The PMQ remained in use until 2000, when the site was completely vacated. After a decade of lying idle, the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the management company of PMQ worked together to conserve and revitalise PMQ into a creative hub for local design talents.
The three policy objectives which had to be adhered to were: conserving the heritage building, supporting the local creative industry and creating more public open space. "Keeping the exteriors as close as to the original outlook of the site was our main goal," says Stephen Tang JP, deputy director of ArchSD. "In getting involved with this project, the government hopes to demonstrate the potential for collaboration with private ownership in conserving heritage buildings."This is a preview of the "Opportunities ahead” article from the November 2014 issue of Perspective magazine.