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Breathing new life into Asia's colonial buildings

Innovative conservation projects mix cultural spaces and commercial developments

The newly opened House 1881, formerly the main building at the Marine Police Headquarters (Courtesy of House 1881)

BANGKOK -- When Hong Kong's Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts opened in mid-2018 it was with considerable fanfare, for the rebirth of the former Central Police Station complex was the city's biggest conservation project, involving the transformation of 16 dilapidated heritage buildings.

The public response exceeded all expectations. The development -- a partnership between the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the government of the Chinese special administrative region -- was an instant sensation, named by Time magazine of the U.S. as one of its "100 World's Greatest Places."

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