Fai Chi Kei Residential Houses
Macao, Macau, China
Designed in 1978 and concluded in 1982, this is the most powerful, mature and complete work of the architect Manuel Vicente, successfully combining many of the themes that had preoccupied him up to that time, but for which he had not found the right place, agenda or scale to express.
Created and designed on an urban scale, Fai Chi Kei is not only a great architectural ensemble of social housing, but also a sizeable area of the city occupying an extensive strip of land reclaimed from the sea. The housing complex consists of two long parallel buildings with a street between as if this was part of a large public space. Each building is a residential unit with an inventive system for distributing into access to each residence, creating another public space, although here on a more domestic scale.
The architectural design locates the streets below the two parallel buildings, freeing the space between them for collective use, while the two blocks themselves run parallel to the configuration of the artificial peninsula. It was an unusual solution that reflects the contradictions of the place where the building is located.
The large scale of the Fai Chi Kei housing blocks (about 400 metres long and five stories high) is domesticated by the regular placing of large porticos opening into the interior. The façades are characterised by a texture created by hundreds of windows, whose complex universe of grilles, gratings and glass bricks is multiplied by means of an obsessive serialism, unified through the use of a single colour, salmon pink. The interior features tier after tier of patios and galleries that pool, alter and parcel out the sunlight.
The square module that forms the basis of the design is found at every level of the building, extending even into the interior space and the fireplaces. This module is multiplied throughout a wide variety of different applications, creating a range of different ambiances in sharp contrast with the monotonous repetition that usually characterises projects such as these built on minimum budgets.