Urbanie & Urbanus

Issue 2021 Dec


Issue 6, P.102 - P.119

Prologue to Tai Kwun: Commercialism or Community? A case study of the urban struggles regarding the revitalisation of the former Central Police Station Compound in Hong Kong


This paper presents a case study of the conservation and revitalisation project of the former Central Police Station Compound (“the Compound”). By documenting the tug of war between economic development and community benefits that took place from 2003 to 2010, it shows how the value of cultural heritage and residents’ lived experience could be affected in the contemporary urban regeneration process. The community’s endeavours to resist the undesirable consequences of the initial revitalisation plan are highlighted to discuss how place identity was threatened, established, defended and reinforced throughout, as well as other factors contributing to the successful regeneration outcome. Examining the evolution and outcome of the two major waves of urban struggles pertaining to the design of the Compound shows that resource mobilisation, social construction and political climate served as vehicles for achieving success, which shape the Tai Kwun we see today as a humanistic focal point for arts and culture. On this basis, this paper aims to shed light on the social, cultural and emotional meanings attached to and evoked by the built environment, which are closely associated with the physical and structural dimensions, in the context of heritage conservation and revitalisation.