Capitalizing on culture in flagship heritage initiatives: Transforming Hong Kong's Police Married Quarters into “PMQ”

Lachlan B. BARBER

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The adaptive reuse of publicly owned historic buildings as heritage projects presents opportunities to create spaces with multiple uses for diverse publics. Such projects are shaped by a mixture of economic considerations, policy objectives, and public concerns. In recent years the creative industries have emerged as a favoured format in East Asian cities but questions remain about the status of culture in heritage revitalization schemes. This paper studies a flagship heritage initiative in Hong Kong with a view to situating it in relation to both the heritage activism movement and the cultural economy. Much of the scholarship on heritage in post-1997 Hong Kong has focused on paradoxes and contestations in the context of the city's land shortage, and on governance and management issues. This paper sheds light on the end result of one project. The paper considers the revitalization of the former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters, which activists fought to protect from demolition, as PMQ. It queries what kind of place this building has become, and how this reality may be interpreted as a product of complementary forces of production and consumption. Drawing on theories of the commodification of culture, the paper situates PMQ within the ongoing gentrification of the Central and Western district. Building on analysis of newspaper reporting, participant observation and key informant interviews, the article considers how built heritage has become a backdrop for differentially positioned cultural-economic activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100275
JournalCity, Culture and Society
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Urban Studies
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Creative industries
  • Gentrification
  • Heritage
  • Hong Kong
  • Urban politics


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