A Triumph of Both Adaptive Reuse and Heritage Conservation: SCAD and Leo A Daly conserve and bring new life to a decommissioned judicial center.

Aided by guidelines established by the Hong Kong development bureau and the antiquities and monuments Office, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), with Leo A Daly as Design Architects and Interiors Designer, undertook an interior redesign that conserves and preserves important elements of the former North Kowloon Magistracy building while incorporating unique design concepts for its new use as an international university for the arts.

As defined in the revitalization scheme for the magistracy, design priorities included retention and incorporation of heritage elements in the building’s future, such as conserving an original jail cell and courtroom for interpretive purposes. The transformation of the 70,000-SF building was completed in September 2010. Where changes needed to be made in order to accommodate the building’s new educational use and meet Hong Kong’s building codes, design excellence and sensitivity were demonstrated through converting original galleries, court rooms, jail cells, and administrative offices into new entry and student common areas, classrooms, photography and film studios, conference rooms, laboratories, exhibit galleries, data storage rooms, and administrative offices.

Glass safety guards minimize the visual impact of ornamental railing compliance upgrades, while historically sensitive wall, floor, and ceiling finishes were preserved using specialized cleansers and finishes. Restoration efforts included ornamental grills, grates, gates, and security bars, as well as the bronze entry doors. Efficient LED lighting merged aesthetics and energy conservation, while new cooling systems, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and solar-blocking shades contribute to sustainability strategies.

The interior redesign of SCAD’s Hong Kong campus demonstrates how quality design can aid both the appreciation of heritage surfaces, and meet the needs and functional requirements of a 21st century educational environment.

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