The exhibition is a search of cultural significance of the former prison as an iconic heritage site in the city centre of Hong Kong in relation to past, present and future. B Hall intends to create multiple interpretations of the former colonial prison in terms of its concept, meaning, design and experience. Each cell delivers content and experience with different perspectives. D Hall which used to be part of the hospital complex inside the prison with a mortuary remained intends to explore the traumatic and healing aspects of prison as a social system.
Since the site is a unique and complex historical site from the colonial period of Hong Kong. The design concept begins with minimising and eliminating new additions of amenities and devices from the previous exhibition set up that may mask the original essence and features of the prison architecture itself. Lighting is a key element that is used to highlight the original architectural aura of the prison cells and special architectural elements in both Halls.
To ensure the exhibition display would not contradict the architectural language of the original prison, a series of display systems were designed based on the materiality and tectonics of prison architecture with a very subtle contemporary touch to avoid confusion between original and new, yet still maintaining a harmony between the exhibition and the heritage itself. There are in general four types of display systems in the series including modular frames with metal bars and dismountable board for texts and images, “forensic” light box tables for objects, projections on wall for video content and monolithic screens for intimate dialogues. There are also special displays in some enclosed cells where the room becomes a “vitrine” conceptually.
The mortuary in D Hall was located at a dead end of a long corridor. In order to create subtle yet effective directional guide, a bespoke long linear light tube was introduced to the ceiling along the corridor. Its lighting temperature gradient slowly shifts from yellow to blue, warm to cold that signifies the cycle of life and death inside the complex.