Administrative Offices (Present-day Court)
Macao, Macau, China
Equipment and Infrastructures
he Administrative Offices and Court building was built by Praia Grande, on the former site of the Administrative Palace, which was originally the governors’ residence before the use of the Praia Grande Palace, where several public services, the courts and, for some years, the Banco National Ultramarino were housed. It was demolished in 1946 and replaced with this build- ing designed by António Lei in 1949 in the taste of 1940s regime architecture. It has a monumental entrance of double columns resting on huge stone pedestals.
Inaugurated in 1951, the building is one massive volume with rows of windows in a horizontal strip of canonical, rhythmic repetition that confers an austere, overpowering presence on the urban landscape. The collaboration of the engineers José Baptista, director of public works at the time, and Zhou Zifan produced one of the most interesting public works of the time because the design has a purity of expression based on a clear, rational classical language that gives it a deliberate sense of modernity.
In keeping with the modern monumental sense of the public works of Pardal Monteiro in Portugal, this building stands out through its singular originality, integrating elements of Asian composition that at the same time combine with modern and classical elements. It is a work of an austere geometric design and equilibrium between the horizontality of the main body and the verticality of the entrance with its four columns that flank the stairway leading up to the entrance.
The building is organised around two patios and an enormous central staircase topped by a skylight. The materials are strictly in keeping with the construction – the modern use of steel in the framework and the classical use of dressed stone for the entrance. The administrative offices occupied the ground floor and the court the first floor in the original building, which has housed only the court since the 1980s.