UPDATE ON THE MARRIED INSPECTORS’ QUARTERS (BLOCK 4) OF THE CENTRAL POLICE STATION COMPOUND9 Jul 2021, Friday
The Jockey Club CPS Limited (“JCCPS”) has submitted a detailed technical report to the Government’s Antiquities and Monuments Office (“AMO”) following a reappraisal of the condition of the Married Inspectors’ Quarters (“Block 4”) of the Central Police Station (“CPS”) Compound. Mindful that public safety is of the utmost importance, the report reveals that Block 4 is weaker than was anticipated when the updated recovery plan was proposed in 2019. The expert team which compiled the report opine s that the building is too weak for the original recovery plan to proceed. JCCPS has also presented the report’s findings to the Commissioner for Heritage’s Office (“CHO”) and the AMO. In light of these findings, JCCPS will revisit the eight recovery options presented to the Antiquities Advisory Board (“AAB”) in 2016.
The CPS Revitalisation Project is a large-scale heritage conservation scheme aimed at conserving an important heritage compound for adaptive reuse. Safety has remained the most important guiding principle throughout the revitalisation process.
Of the 16 historic buildings at the site, 15 have been meticulously restored, with the compound being opened to the public as “Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts” (“Tai Kwun”) in May 2018. Tai Kwun works with programme partners, schools and institutions, stakeholders in heritage and arts, as well as its neighbours and tenants to preserve and showcase local culture and vibrant arts experiences. In addition to free daily heritage tours, Tai Kwun offers year-round programmes to engage visitors from all walks of life. Since opening, it has welcomed over 8 million visitors. Tai Kwun was also honoured with the prestigious Award of Excellence – the highest honour – in the 2019 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Block 4 is the only historic building yet to be restored as part of the CPS Revitalisation Project. Much effort has been spent in planning for its recovery. Between 2016 and 2018, JCCPS sought the views of the AAB and other stakeholders on the conceptual options for recovery, which were narrowed down to a recovery plan in September 2018. The AAB noted the updated recovery plan, with a detailed programme provided in December 2019. The latter included a series of structural strengthening measures, including a new reinforced concrete structural frame inside the building, in order to safely recover Block 4.
Preparatory work for the implementation of the building’s recovery plan was carried out between June and December 2020. Building movements were detected by monitoring devices installed at the site during this period and work was immediately suspended due to safety concerns. The relevant Government authorities were alerted according to standard procedures. Precautionary measures were taken and preparatory work was resumed when it was deemed safe by the registered structural engineer in agreement with the relevant authority.
Throughout the preparatory work, JCCPS worked with relevant Government authorities and kept them informed of the progress. No further movements in Block 4 were detected following the completion of preparatory work. Since then the building has remained stable.
With safety being the most important principle for the Block 4 recovery project, JCCPS commissioned a team of local and international engineering, conservation and masonry experts to reappraise the building’s condition.
After six months of investigation, the expert team opined that the building is weaker than was anticipated when the recovery plan was proposed in 2019. The report – including a detailed account of building movements, and the technical findings of structural engineers and a masonry expert – was submitted to the AMO and copied to the CHO. JCCPS has also presented the report’s findings to the CHO and the AMO.
Taking into account the expert team’s advice, and mindful that safety must be the priority, JCCPS has no alternative but to terminate the implementation of the recovery plan set out in 2019. It will now revisit the eight original recovery options presented to AAB in 2016. The CHO, AMO and related authorities are studying the report in detail.
JCCPS remains committed to the conservation of Tai Kwun and will continue to work closely with the Government on a way forward. All other venues at Tai Kwun will continue to be open to visitors.
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Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts has welcomed over 8 million visitors since opening in 2018.
Precautionary measures were taken immediately after movements were detected in the building. These included additional propping and bracing.