Here we take a look at one of the most important institutional buildings through the history of Macau, located on the Avenida Praia Grande. The government headquarters, an imposing neo classical construction facing the Nam Van Lake, is the official seat of the chief executive of Macau and its government since 1999, its name due to the fact that it was the official seat of the governor of Macau during the Portuguese administration of the territory.
It was built in 1849 (or in 1859 according to other records found) and its first owner was the Baron of Cercal, Alexandrino António de Melo. Initially, the palace was rented by the Portuguese governor José Maria Lobo d’Ávila and later it was bought by the Portuguese government, being used by several government departments until eventually it was exclusively used as the official residence for the Portuguese governors.
There are many doubts regarding the true story of the design and construction of what is today the government headquarters but the project is believed to belong to another Baron of Cercal, the Macanese architect José Agostinho Tomás de Aquino, and finally built at the start of the second half of the 19th century.
The building went through several renovations until the end of the first half of the 20th century; especially due to damages to the roof caused by a typhoon in 1924 or other government decisions through the years. Since then almost no big changes have been done to the property other than small repairs or conservation works.
“The current building is in a U shape, with two protruding external bodies with balconies and one other balcony along the entire front”. The architect used the neoclassical design, “as again can be seen in many other buildings in Macau from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, “especially noticed in the triangular pediments in the windows and balconies of the first floor”.
It was built using typical brick masonry, plastered and painted in the “pombalino” pink. This pink tone is then mixed with the white that is used in some of the elements such as the windows, balustrades, cornices, etc.
Since 2001 the property is open to the public two times a year, a chance for the population and some tourists to visit some of the rooms inside and also the gardens.
Source: “A Urbanização e a Arquitectura dos Portugueses em Macau” by Pedro Dias; Wikipedia
Government Headquarters 131 Avenida da Praia Grande, Macau, +853 2872 6886, www2.gcs.gov.mo/openday
For any inquiries about interior design or fit-out works, don’t hesitate to contact Rui Barbosa:
*All views expressed are the author’s alone