Former Wan Chai Police Station

The end of last year was rather busy and chaotic so I’m a bit behind on posting but I thought I’d share a few photos from DETOUR 2012: Design Renegade which was held in the Former Wan Chai Police Station (灣仔警署署) late November – continuing last years theme of opening up decommissioned buildings to the public for the duration of the festival.

Prison Cells

The No. 2 Police Station (二號差館), as it was known, was built in 1932 and originally faced directly onto Victoria Harbour before land reclamation left it inland. The station closed in 2011 and is awaiting redevelopment.

No. 2 Cell

Inside the building retains many of the signs of its former purpose – including the prisoner cells which look as unwelcoming as you might expect.

Police Station Cell

Ignoring the unfathomable ‘art’ installation, it’s not hard to imagine the prisoners locked up here, with nothing but four concrete walls to stare at and toilet facilities which consisted of a hole in the floor.

Prisoner Drinking Water

A bilingual sign reminds prisoners of their rights to drinking water.

Language Identifier

For those who couldn’t understand Cantonese or English, there was a helpful chart that foreign prisoners could use to point out their language so that an interpreter could be called.

Red Guard

One cell had former police officers’ accoutrements painted in bright red.

2012 Hong Kong Design Year

2012 was Hong Kong Design Year.

Block Chart

This block chart represented the recorded soundscapes of the local Wan Chai neighbourhood which is home to some of the city’s richest and poorest people.

Cardboard Contours

A cool wooden contour map.


When asked the question of how Hong Kong’s urban development could be improved it’s nice to see someone had a sense of humour!

Hanging Plants

Random hanging plants.

Team 4

District Crime Investigation Team 4 and their good luck deities.

Faux Patriotism

My favourite installation was a room with a horn, which when blown into activated a fan to raise the Chinese national flag!

Report Room

Some of the signs in the station had stickers on them which I think was an indicator that they should be preserved.

We Serve with Pride and Care

“We Serve with Pride and Care”.

Where was the last place you freaked out?

“Where was the last place you freaked out?” – probably trying to walk home through the ever-crowded streets of Mong Kok!

deTour 2012

A watchtower outside the police station compound. Were they expecting invaders?


Outside there were a few weird and wonderful sculptures.

Glowing Water

A sign next to this read “100% pure unfiltered Hong Kong Tap Water – Drink at own risk”. As with last year, the building and the surrounding neighbourhood were somewhat more interesting than the exhibition but perhaps that was part of the idea.

David avatar


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