Hong Kong is not exactly a city known for historic preservation. There are a few pieces of colonial architecture here and there, and pockets of older, low-rise buildings, but in this densely populated city, where space is scarce and rents are high, the impetus is to build new and build high. All of these factors make the recently unveiled renovation of the Police Married Quarters (PMQ) building, which dates from just after World War II and now sits on a prime piece of real estate at the edge of Soho, so remarkable; not only was the building conserved, but it is now largely dedicated to incubating businesses by offering concessionary rents to up-and-coming creative minds.
On the ground level, bigger name retailers and restaurants, paying market rents, anchor the space and draw in crowds. Here you’ll find Goods of Desire and Kapok, two of Hong Kong’s best known design shops, and a large Vivienne Tam boutique.
But the upper floors, once the living quarters for young, married police officers, have been converted to subsidized studio spaces for entrepreneurs, enabling them to set up shop in a part of town they would normally be priced out of.
You’ll find unique jewelers (The Little Finger), kids’ wear in luxe fabrics (Tóng Cháo), urban yoga garb (A Day with Fé), Hong Kong-themed gifts and games (Mall852), vintage-style home accessories (Museum CONTEXT), handmade ceramics (FLOW + Living) and dozens of other shops. Some studios feel like typical retail stores, others appear more like workshops. Our advice: take the elevator all the way up and work your way down to see it all, floor by floor.
Police Married Quarters’ central courtyard serves as a space for events and pop-ups. The area was recently overtaken by the World Wildlife Fund’s 1600 Pandas project. On July 25-27, the PMQ Night Market will set up one last time for the summer, and it promises to feature live music, food stalls and local vendors.
Several restaurants are setting up here as well. So far, the biggest entry is Aberdeen Street Social, a two-story restaurant, café and cocktail bar featuring modern British cooking by chef Jason Atherton (of Pollen Street Social in London and 22 Ships here in Hong Kong). Other scheduled openings include the natural food spot Alice Wild, Vasco Spanish Fine Dining, Mediterranean table Isono Eatery & Bar and Kung Fu Teahouse.
Photo Courtesy of PMQ Management Co. Ltd.