After laying dormant for almost 14 years, the former Police Married Quarters (PMQ) on Hollywood Road has found new life as Hong Kong’s latest creative hub for local designers of diverse disciplines. The 18,000sqm former heritage site houses 130 units rented out to selected locally based creative talents from the fields of design, fashion and art at a discounted rate for a maximum lease of two years, to allow them to create their own viable businesses. More established brands such as Bread and Butter and Vivienne Tam are also present on the ground and first floor to lend some clout.
PMQ is also home to five restaurants including Aberdeen Street Social by Jason Atherton & Yenn Wong, and Spanish fine dining restaurant Vasco featuring Paolo Casagrande from two- Michelin star Barcelonan restaurant Lasarte. There are 15 pop-up spaces, 6 units for international ‘designers in residence’ to work from and a huge 6,000sqm exhibition space called the Cube which will host fashion and art events. Be sure to visit the night market run by the organisers of Island East Markets every Friday and weekend nights featuring street food from the city’s most cutting edge eateries, creations by local craftspeople and music from top musicians and DJs. I popped by Hong Kong’s newest creative spot for a look during its soft opening in May. It officially opens in late June 2014. As far as I could see from the 30% of the shops open during the soft opening – it’s a shopping haven for people who appreciate one-of-a-kind product offerings (like me), and I have no doubt it will be a hip place to hangout during the weekend evenings. Pen it down in your itinerary on your next trip to Hong Kong.
The site on Aberdeen Road where PMQ sits also deserves mentioning for its rich cultural heritage – it was built way back in 1889 as the Central School. The school was severely damaged during World War II and was demolished in 1948 to make way for building the Former Police Married Quarters (and where its current name PMQ was derived). After the Former Police Married Quarters were vacated in 2000, it remained empty for years amid a mire of indecision on its next usage. It was definitely a costly (in)decision as the market price of the building was estimated at $2,500m to $3,000m. The government eventually launched the ‘Conserving Central’ plan in 2009 to preserve eight key heritage sites in Central including PMQ. A $100m bid by the Musketeers Foundation (a group of 3 anonymous local businessmen who support culture and education) to turn the site into a creative hub for designers was accepted, and voila – PMQ is born.
1) MTR Sheung Wan Station Exit E2. Walk through the Grand Millennium Plaza to reach Bonham Strand. Cross the road and turn left onto Wellington Street and walk for around two minutes. Turn onto Aberdeen Street and walk for around three minutes to reach PMQ.
2) MTR Central Station Exit C. Walk along Dex Voeux Road to the Hang Seng Bank Headquarters, which is linked to the Central–Mid-Levels Escalator. Take the escalator to Staunton Street and turn right. Walk for about three minutes to reach PMQ. The whole walk takes about 15 minutes.