Hong Kong’s PMQ Has Artsy New Tenants

  • Indie outlets now populate the colonial buildings.

    Indie outlets now populate the colonial buildings.

  • The renovation supports local artisans as the buildings' new tenants.

    The renovation supports local artisans as the buildings' new tenants.

  • From vintage fashion to independent design studios, PMQ now houses a host of one-off businesses.

    From vintage fashion to independent design studios, PMQ now houses a host of one-off businesses.

  • A gorgeous glass-roofed courtyard connects the buildings.

    A gorgeous glass-roofed courtyard connects the buildings.

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Hong Kong is a city perpetually reinventing itself, and in no other district is this more evident than Central, where many colonial-era buildings are at last being redeveloped by the government. The latest innovation is PMQ (35 Aberdeen St.), housed in the former Police Married Quarters off Hollywood Road. Having stood empty for more than a decade, the complex—built in 1951 to provide accommodations for junior police officers and their families—reopened in April as a dynamic new hub aimed squarely at supporting local artisans and designers, with the original apartments converted into studio spaces for more than 100 creative businesses. Providing discounted rents and two-year leases, PMQ has enabled its tenants—a mix of fashion and product designers, craft studios, jewelers, and the like—to relocate from obscure factory settings like Fo Tan and showcase their wares in a higher-profile part of town.

Branches of hip Hong Kong brands Goods of Desire (Shop SG09; 852/2544-5615) and S. Nine by Susanna So (Shop S505; 852/2815-0884) provide some mainstream retail appeal, but it’s the indie outlets, spread over two seven-story blocks, that give PMQ its edge. Among the many standouts are the well-curated vintage stores The World Beyond (Shop H403; 852/6891-5494) and Museum Context  (Shop H402; 852/2152-0820); Swedish-owned design atelier C’monde Studios (Shop S608; 852/9158-7315); and Hulu Culture’s SEE Through Craftsmen (Shop S507; 852/2780- 0286), a nonprofit consignment store and demonstration space dedicated to Hong Kong’s traditional craft shops.

Connecting the buildings is a glass-roofed courtyard that is its own attraction. Several of PMQ’s dining venues are located here (highlights include an offshoot of Wan Chai’s Tai Lung Fung bar and chef Jason Atherton’s latest venture, Aberdeen Street Social), and the square is set to hold events throughout the year, kicking off with a weekend night market that will continue through June. –Nick Walton

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2014 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Initial Reaction”).

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