The OASIS project, a collaboration between Hong Kong based BEAU Architects and Brussels based Bureau Bas Smets, takes place at Tai Kwun, the cultural hub by Herzog & de Meuron developed around the transformation/adaptation of the former historical prison and police quarter located at Hong Kong Central. In itself, the project consists in the revitalisation of two of Tai Kwun’s main outdoor spaces, the Prison Yard and the Lower E-Hall.
The first intervention, at the Prison Yard, focuses on the rethinking of the original tree planters and benches. Articulated around the tree trunks, a series of large circular benches provides generous seating opportunity in the shade while giving the roots more room to grow. These are made out of polished concrete where salvaged stones from the historical prison were used as aggregates. The result blends in its context while offering more possibilities of functional appropriation.
The second intervention, at the Lower E-Hall, is actually located near one of the site’s main entrances and one of the most impressive heritage infrastructures of the former police station. Despites this condition, the area did suffer from public desertion from the very start. In its new configuration, the Lower E-Hall was populated with more than 200 plants in pots to generate human-centric “pocket spaces” echoing the pre-existing columns grid. These pockets were then furbished with tables and chairs allowing free use by the public. The very dense “airy tropical veranda” it created offers a stark contrast, balancing the openness and mineral nature of the Prison Yard’s intervention, yet being consistent with the general idea of the project.