PMQ - Hong Kong's creative hub

Posted on May 6, 2015 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments


PMQ's Staunton Street entrance


Back in 2010, I visited the disused Grade 3 listed former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters, which was temporarily transformed into an arts and design hub by deTour (part of The Business of design week). Built in 1951 as housing or dormitory for Chinese rank and file police officers, the site was listed as one of eight projects under ‘Conserving Central’ in 2009. Local architectural firm Thomas Chow Architects (TCA) was responsible for the transformation and conservation of the site.


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The former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters back in 2010


Finally in 2014, with support from the Government and Musketeers Education and Culture Charitable Foundation Ltd., a new design and creative hub PMQ was born. The organisation runs as a self-financing, non-profit-making social enterprise, with a aim to support local artists, designers and entrepreneurs.




Honestly, I think this hub is long overdue. The Government has neglected the local arts and creative industry for decades, and it is only in recent years that new creative hubs have started to emerge. One of the forerunners is the JCCAC (opened in 2008) in Shek Kip Mei (read my previous entry on it here) and InnoCentre (opened in 2006) in Kowloon Tong. Yet both venues are not centrally located, so the main advantage of PMQ is its prime location.




The site is comprised of two main buildings and a large front courtyard, occupying 6000 square metre of land in the SoHo area not far from the mid-Levels escalator.

Wandering around the vast site, it is not hard to see the collective effort that has been put into it. From rooftop garden to signage to each shop's interior and visual merchandising, it is a far cry from the glossy and soulless shopping malls that dominate all parts of the city today.


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Aside from local independent shops and design studios, there are also alternative art galleries, cafes, restaurants and a 600 square metre multifunctional hall available for hire. There are also pop up shops, exhibitions, workshops and marketplace that take place regularly.

Another interesting aspect of the site is the underground archaeological remains of the Central school, which was the original building that occupied the site back in 1862. Visitors can book onto the free daily heritage guided tour or visit the site unguided to learn more about the history of the site.


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I initially visited the site on a weekday, and it was fairly quiet, with some tourists, high school students and young locals. And when I spoke to my local friends/ entrepreneurs, I found out from them that the site has somewhat failed to attract regular footfall esp. on weekdays. One of them was in negotiation with the organisation for a shop rental, but despite the reasonable rental cost and thorough application procedure, the deal fell through and she is still seeking for a new shop space.

However, on a more positive note, the venue was jam-packed on my last visit (during the long weekend) because of the opening of Le French May festival. At the front foyer, there were food stalls, live music and performances; and inside the Qube, it is currently hosting French street artist Invader's new exhibition "Wipe Out" (until 17th May).


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Top row: The Qube is often used as an exhibition space, including handmade carpet made by designer Alexandra Kehayoglou for Dries Van Noten SS2015 fashion show (right) and French street artist Invader's "Wipe out" exhibition (left)


I sincerely hope that this venue would continue to evolve and be a success story in Hong Kong. This city desperately needs an alternative shopping space and cultural hub, and I think PMQ does fill the gap in the market. If it proves to be successful, then hopefully, the model will inspire others to follow suit.


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Top left: old mail boxes from the former Police married quarters; Top right: an underground latrine from 1918; the rest: Archaeological remains of Central school



This post was posted in Hong Kong, Exhibitions, Architecture, Shopping, Travel, Art, Hong Kong design, Architectural conservation, Design and was tagged with Hong Kong, shopping, Hong Kong design, Architectural conservation