Administrative Offices (Palácio das Repartições)

Administrative Offices (Palácio das Repartições)

Díli, Díli, Timor

Equipment and Infrastructures

The present-day building of the Government Palace, or Administrative Offices, is so-called because several public services are concentrated there and as a way of distinguishing it from the governors’ residence, situated in the suburban area of Lahane. Facing Dili’s Avenida Marginal, it was built in the 1950s within the reconstruction plan implemented by the Portuguese government following the devastation the territory suffered during the Second World War. The palace has an urban front overlooking a ceremonial square facing the sea. This function, with its own symbolic quality, preceded the formal urban square, which, when it was planned and accepted, symbolically replicated the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, complete with a statue of Infante D. Henrique in the centre and being bounded by the Administrative Office to the south, the sea to the north, the infantry barracks to the west and an open space planted with trees to the east. The building formally follows the model used all over the empire in the 1950s. It is a traditional two-storey Portuguese structure with a hip roof and eaves, emphasis being laid on the front façade that has an arcade at ground level, a veranda with a colonnade of pillars on the second floor and a flat reinforced concrete roof. In the centre of the composition and emphasising the symmetrical axis, the three central arches and the corresponding stretch of the upper veranda are in the form of a peristyle, with three arches at the axis. Curiously, the building does not have one but three bodies, the lateral ones being slightly shorter than the central one, the former having fifteen arches (three central and six lateral on each side), while the central body has seventeen (three central and seven lateral on each side). The porticos of the peristyles on the axes of the lateral bodies are less noticeable as they are a continuation of the veranda and are no higher than the height of the eaves, unlike the central building. The lateral and rear façades of the building, all of two storeys, are bereft of the architectonic elements – arches, verandas, porticos – that adorn the main façade, merely being elements that structure, encompass and support, in functional terms, the more representative areas that face the square. The building housed the services of the United Nations Aid Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) in the period that preceded the independence of Timor. It was also the refuge of many Timorese during the period of violence that followed the referendum of 30 August 1999. It was later the headquarters of UNAMET’s successor, the United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET), which ceased its functions with East Timor’s independence in 2002. The building is today the seat of the government, thus resuming its initial functions as the seat of political power.

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