The debate about authenticity and heritage rages on at Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun project. By CHRISTOPHER DEWOLF香港的大館保育項目引發何謂保存歷史原貌的熱烈討論。撰文: Christopher DeWolf

Discovery - - CONTENTS - 建築界及保育界引起激烈的辯論PHOTOGRAPHY MIKE PICKLES

It was like stepping back in time. When the Detour design festival threw open the gates to Victoria Prison and the Central Police Station compound in 2010, visitors had a chance to explore one of Hong Kong’s most significant historical landmarks, a complex of 16 Victorian buildings that once housed prisoners, police officers and magistrates.

Although the festival had transformed the compound’s public areas with colourful lights and quirky installations, most of the interiors had been left untouched since they were abandoned in 2001. Cobwebs hung between the bars of Dickensian prison cells; a disco ball floated above an officers’ lounge. Visitors could even walk through a prison kitchen stocked with knives and other cooking utensils. Then those doors were sealed shut. That was the last time the public saw the old compound in its untouched state. In mid-2018, they will (or should) be able to visit once again – only this time, it will have been transformed into Tai Kwun (‘ The Big House’), a centre for heritage and art. Funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, it will include leafy public spaces, a heritage interpretation centre, shops, restaurants and exhibition spaces for contemporary art.

Expectations are high. Adeline Ooi, director Asia of Art Basel, describes Tai Kwun as ‘the final piece of the puzzle’

– a museum-style exhibition space that will anchor Central’s thriving gallery scene, while also complementing the M+ museum of visual culture that is now rising in West Kowloon.

It also marks a departure from Hong Kong’s long history of knocking down its most significant historical buildings. ‘ We’re moving into uncharted territory,’ says Fredo Cheung, an architectural conservationist who lectures at the University of Hong Kong. ‘ We’ve never before had a heritage conservation project in Hong Kong of this scale and magnitude.’

That might even be an understatement. Until now, most of Hong Kong’s conservation efforts have been limited to a single building here and there. But Tai Kwun is actually three clusters of buildings, some of them nearly 200 years old. When it opened in August 1841, Victoria Prison was the first permanent structure built by the British on Hong Kong Island. Through the years, notable prisoners included Ho Chi Minh, who was arrested for secretly running the Vietnamese Communist Party in Hong Kong; and renowned Chinese poet Dai Wangshu, who was imprisoned for opposing the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during the Second World War.

Over the years, the prison was joined by the police headquarters, built in stages from 1864, and the Central Magistracy, which opened in 1914. The complexity of the site has made preserving it a

challenge. That was made especially clear last year, when one of the oldest structures in the compound suddenly collapsed. An investigation concluded that the building suffered from previously undetected structural weaknesses, and the entire project was delayed as the other historic buildings were examined.

The Jockey Club and the government are now deciding how best to deal with the collapsed structure. Some of the options include rebuilding it with salvaged historical materials, rebuilding it as a new structure or leaving it in ruins as a reminder of what happened.

Beyond the collapse, the most contentious change has been the proposed Old Bailey Galleries, a pair of new exhibition halls with 16,150 square feet of space. Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the firm responsible for the Tate Modern in London as well as the upcoming M+, the galleries are housed in two textured black boxes suspended over a portion of the old prison.

The goal was to provide new, museumquality exhibition spaces without altering any of the historical structures. ‘Some like them, some don’t,’ says Katty Law, convenor of the Central and Western District Concern Group, a neighbourhood development watchdog. ‘Many people feel they are totally out of place. I personally think they’re too heavy. They dominate the entire site.’

Cheung says that these new interventions give Tai Kwun more flexibility. ‘ When we talk about heritage conservation now, we talk about adaptive reuse – giving a building new life. There’s only so much you can do with the existing buildings,’ he says. He also defends the bold contemporary architecture of the new galleries. ‘ The point is not to mimic the old but to distinguish the old from the new,’ he says. ‘It’s about authenticity.’

Aside from the galleries, which will be run in partnership with independent local arts organisations like Para Site and the Asia Art Archive, not many details have been revealed about the rest of the compound: the Jockey Club has been tight-lipped about the project. Law wonders how historical artefacts discovered during an archaeological dig will be displayed, including a Qing dynasty opium container, a 19th century coin and the foundations of demolished buildings.

She also worries that, as with many restored heritage structures in Hong Kong, post-renovation Tai Kwun will feel too polished and new. Cheung says that’s a legitimate concern. Whether they’re going to see art, learn about history or eat dinner, visitors should have the same feeling of discovery they did when the gates to the old compound were thrown open in 2010. ‘It’s not just about conserving the historical fabric,’ he says. ‘It’s about how to interpret the history.’

首先讓時光倒流,回到從前。話2010年舉行的「Detour設計遊」打開了域多利監獄和中區警署建築群的大門,訪客可走進這個極具代表的港性 香 古蹟內,於16座維多利亞式歷史建築之間遊逛,想像昔日囚犯、警員和裁判官在這個地方活動的情景。

雖然活動舉時行 ,建築群的公眾範圍滿繽紛的燈飾,又陳列了奇形怪狀的裝置術藝 品,但室內大部分仍保留了2001年停用時原的 狀。有如狄更斯小中囚的室,鐵欄上結滿了蜘蛛網,一顆的士高閃光球仍然懸 在警員俱樂部的花天 板,參者觀甚至可以走進然滿依 放 刀具和烹飪器的具監獄廚房。

活動過後,這些古蹟再次重門深鎖。這是公眾最後次一 看到這群歷史建築的原貌。到了2018年中,應大家 該可以再次故地重遊,只不過這次舊址已活化成為結合古蹟與藝術的「大館」(中區警署昔日的俗稱)。計劃由香港賽馬會資助,項整個目括綠樹成蔭公的 共空間、文物探知中心、商店、餐廳和展示當代藝的術 美。術館

各界對大館期望甚殷巴。塞爾藝術展亞洲監總 黃 君形容大館是「最一後塊拼圖」,這座具備展覽功能的美術館正好與中環林立的畫廊相輔相成,並且與矗立西於 九文化區的M+視覺文化博物館互輝相 映。

這項活化計劃,與香港長期以來拆毀重要歷史建築的傳統法日做 背 而馳。教任香大港 學的建築文物保護師家張 榮 :「我 們邁向全新的領,域 以往從來沒有如此規模宏大且意義深遠的文物保育計劃。」

他的 法其實略嫌。保守 香港進行的保目育項,迄今大部分只是散落於不同地點的單幢建築,但大館涵蓋了三個歷史建築群,當中有些已有近200年歷史。域多利監獄於1841年8月落成,英是 國政府香島在 港 興建的首座永久建築物,多年來曾經囚禁過不少知名囚犯, 括在香私港 自籌組越南共產黨的胡,志明 以及在次戰因二 大 時 日被日軍逮捕,關押於此的中國著名詩人戴望舒。

其後在漫長的歲月,之中 監獄經過多次建擴例, 如1864年起分階段增了建 作為警察總部的營房大樓,以及1914年中央裁判司署完成改。建 建築群範圍龐而大 複雜,令保育工程困難重重。去年其中一幢最古老的大樓突然倒塌,更為工增程 添。難度調查指出於由 進行鞏固工程時沒有察覺大樓結構脆弱,導致倒塌,結必全果 須 面檢查其他古建築,拖了慢 整項工程的進度。

香港馬賽 會和政府目前正在打算如何妥善處理倒塌的建築物,提出的解決方法括以倒塌部分的物舊 料重建大樓、將大樓拆卸並重建為全新建築,以及保留建築遺跡,作為倒事塌 件的見證等。

除了倒塌,意外 大館最具爭議的改變要數奧卑利美術館。美術兩館 括 間合共16,150平方呎的展覽廳,由負責設計倫敦泰特現代博物館和即將揭幕的M+博物館的瑞士建築事所務 赫佐格和德 隆設計,外型有如兩個紋理浮凸、懸浮於舊監獄部分圍牆上盒的黑。

這樣做的目的,是在不改變現有歷史建築的前提下,為公眾提供一個博物館等級的嶄新展覽空間。一注直關 鄰近社區發展中的 西區關注組召 人羅 寧 :「有些人喜歡,有些則不以為然。很多人 為美術館與四周的環境格格不入。我個人則為設計突,賓兀 喧 奪主支配整了 個古蹟。」

但是張家榮卻 為,這些新的設計令大館變得更靈活多變他。:「我們現在談古蹟保育,是考慮如何為舊建築物賦予新生命,因為原有建築可做的改變非常有限。」他亦為新美術館的大膽 現代造型喊冤:「重點不是要模仿的舊 設計,而是要突出新舊之別,這樣才能保存古蹟的原貌。」

除了術美 館將會與Para Site藝術空間及亞洲藝術文獻庫等本地獨立藝術機構合作之外,大館尚未透露更多關於建築群的其他詳情,香港賽馬會亦守口如瓶。羅 寧關心古考 挖掘出土的歷史文物括,  一個清朝的鴉片罐、一枚19世紀銅錢及拆卸的建築物地基等將會以何種方式來陳列。

她亦擔心修復後的大館一如香港不少經復的修 古蹟一樣,過於簇新亮麗。張家榮

為這是合理的顧慮。不論訪客是來欣賞藝術、了解歷史或享用膳晚,他們都應該像2010年參觀這些舊建築的人一樣,從得中獲探索的新奇感,:他 「我們的目的不僅是保存歷史舊貌,還要考慮如何演繹歷史。」


Heritage remixed Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the Tai Kwun project adds a new museum (above) to sit alongside the original Victorian buildings 新舊交融赫佐格和德默隆建築 務所負責大館的設計,在原來的 多利 代建築群加建一座 的美術館(上圖)

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