The Hong Kong Jockey Club Drug InfoCentre
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Drug Info Centre (DIC), located on the roof floor at the Low Block of the Queensway Government Offices, has become a focal point for drug education and anti-drug educational activities in the territory upon its opening. The Action Committee Against Narcotics endorsed the setting up of the DIC in December 1999. The project is funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust (donation of $50.58 million), whilst development of the project was led by the Narcotics Division, Security Bureau. Building design is by the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and branding, exhibition and 2D and 3D design are by MET Studio Design Ltd, under the project management of ArchSD. The main contractor of the project is Kingsmen Hong Kong Ltd.
The content approach of the Centre is not to create any moralizing tone or any summarizing "voice of authority". Instead, the designer believed that using the words of people who had "been there done that" and the experiences of those whose lives have been touched by drugs would be far more impactful. All of this is underpinned by hard dispassionately presented medical fact on the physical and psychological effects of drugs. The intention above all is to stimulate debate and learning, which can be carried on in other areas of the space or at home or in the classroom.
Even more visible from the street is the central dramatic structure of the exhibition: the 1m-wide x 25m long "agent structure" - an abstract and angular blue flashing lightbox, which bends and weaves across both storeys of the exhibition, running above the exhibition's ground floor and wrapping around the first floor suspended mezzanine level, serving both as a navigational reference and as a representation of the veins of the body, carrying the "agent", in this instance drugs, along the body's highways.
The 900m2 two-storeyed exhibition hall comprises the three core areas of the exhibition (Host/Agent/Environment) on the lower floor and then, on the mezzanine level, a library, an info cafe, a multi-purpose classroom, a thematic exhibition area and an interactive theatre.
Content is divided into three main areas running the full length of the lower floor area of the exhibition: Host (i.e. YOU, the human body, and how drugs change your life), which runs along the rear wall of the exhibition area, Agent (i.e. the drugs themselves and what they do to your mind and body), which runs along the centre of the space, beneath the overhead "Agent" structure and Environment (home, school and social etc and how you can say no within such environments), which runs just inside the glazed frontage of the exhibition.
The DIC icon comprise a young male and a young female. This represents that peer influence is a key factor for young people to abuse drugs which is often taken place in groups of friends. The welcoming hands of the icon invite public to visit the DIC so as to get a better understanding about the harm of drugs.
Host Backdrop Wall
The "Host" area has a backdrop wall that looks at real users and real stories, tracing the "seven stages" of drug taking through the lives of six users. Each of the stages is characterized by a piece of art created by former drug abusers and are: innocence / ignorance / initiation / habitual use / crash and burn / seeking help / recovery / where are they now?
Next to the backdrop wall are interactive case studies - modeled on real suitcases - each in their own encasing and on their own stand, presenting the moment in time when drugs really touched the life of the user or someone around them. These feature a rehabilitated drug addict, a police officer, a teacher, a parent, a doctor, a social worker and a current drug abuser. Each story is given in the inner lid of the case, whilst objects related to the story are inset into the bottom of the case.
The Agent area is comprised of 14 individual bays, starting with an intro and overview of current trends in drugs and then giving the unadorned medical breakdown on the exact effects of ten major contemporary drugs (heroin / "ice" / "ecstasy" / ketamine / GHB / tranquillizers / cannabis / cough medicine / organic solvents and cocaine), with the final two bays giving information on mixing drugs and impurity problem.
For each drug displayed, we will look at the physical properties of the drug in its various forms, the ingestion method and its long-term and short-term effects. Apart from displaying drug replicas and ingestion tools for each drug, there will be video showing the internal effects on the body.
In the Environment area, a series of abstracted environments representing the home, school and social will have strong messages cleverly incorporated into environmental graphics. The main focus of interpretation will be a series of specially designed tables - representing each of the environments. Into these are incorporated a series of screens which periodically run a round table discussion by a group of people (e.g. a family, young children and teenagers). For the visitors seated at the table they are effectively watching a group of talking heads discussing drugs at school, in the home and in a disco. This will act as an ideal tool for teachers to spark group discussion.
A 15-minute movie about a drug-related scenario encountered by three young people will be shown. At the discussion point, viewers will stop to discuss an important decision confronting the characters. Before the end of the movie, viewers will "vote" to decide for one of the characters whether he will take drugs. The majority choice will lead the movie to the end. The voting system in the theatre will allow the teacher or facilitators to engage the group in discussion about their decisions. Apart from serving as a venue for the show, the theatre could flexibly be turned into an auditorium.
This area will occupy a prime location on the mezzanine level, affording excellent views through the double height window to the harbour. It has a contemporary cyber cafe feel with comfortable seating encouraging visitors to browse information on drugs and play games on the computer terminals.
Library is a controlled area placed with over 8,200 drug-related books, journals and research reports. A number of computer terminals will be provided for readers to browse the library collections database.
The classroom would provide a space to gather groups after walking through the exhibition on the lower floor. The area, surrounded by colorful and playful graphics to imply positive and healthy lifestyle, would be an ideal place to gather a group of young children to consolidate the subjects they had gone through in the previous sections. Drug education programme could be conducted in this classroom as well.