Superior Court
Macau SAR of PRC





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Court Rooms and Function Hall, Magistrates and Public Persecutor offices, parking

Date of Completion:	Abril de 1999
Construction area:	6,400 m2
Date of Project:	Outubro de 1997
Architecture:	Mário Duarte Duque
		Frederico Ramos
		Teresa Queiroga
Stability:		Fernando Botelho - EPE
with:		Raymond Sou - EPE
Hydraulic Eng.:	Fernando Botelho - EPE
E & M Installations: 	Henrique Costa,
		SE - Engineering Services
Fire Service:	SUN TAT
Contractor:	CHON TIT


The New Building for the Superior Court of Macau is part of the last generation of public buildings, carried out by the Portuguese Administration of Macau, committed to be accomplish before the handover to the People’s Republic of China.

Exactly the Superior Court represents the cut off to the jurisdictional organs that still relates Macau to the Republic of Portugal, providing Macau with a complete jurisdictional system up to the High Appeal Court.

This is the very first building to be accomplished in this new reclaimed land that encloses the old waterfront. This new land defines interior lakes, which gave a new environmental quality, not only in terms of public space, but also in terms of city landscape keeping at the same time the presence of the old water front outline. The new lakes provide the possibility to enjoy the sights of both old and new opposing waterfronts.

The area where the building stands has been planned to group a series of public administrative organs, together with the New Legislative Assembly still under construction. The construction volumes are relatively low to what has been planned for the surrounding ground, building up a future intermediate scale to the public space.

The geometry of the urban concept defined strong conditions that necessarily the architecture had to take into consideration, such as boundaries and alignments of specific urban directions, drive in ways and necessarily the waterfront. The result is a rather articulated building which volumes clearly identifies its plastic and urban function.

The design that came out of these conditions necessarily had to pay a major attention to define and identify each piece of the architecture body, not to make it elaborate, but to make it acknowledgeable.

In this framework, the materials play an important role where each application is directed to elements of the building of the same kind or plastic function.

All the materials chosen display their natural properties such as stones and metals.

White bushamered Portuguese limestone assures the solidity of the building and display with light the bends of the shapes.

The polished gray lined marble – arabescato - emphasises the energy of the cutting elements.

The Portuguese black cleft slate develops from the background the outlines and solemnizes the law court functions.

The Norwegian Cleft Alta Quartzite, with its smooth though strong texture, produces a waving water green reflection that ‘floods’ the interior circulation areas with the reflection of the sun coming trough the ground floor glazed surfaces. In the early morning and late afternoon, gives the impression of walking on a fresh wet floor.

Concrete itself is also part of the play whenever the interior skeleton of the building is displayed.

Metals are stainless steel, aluminum natural anodized and copper - polished and patinated which, with its light green color, forms the cladding of the walls of the main court room delivering a rather less tense atmosphere. Patinated copper is also the single color reference in the building together with the dark cherry wood of the carpentry works.

The result is purely abstract, though logical, bringing rather different things together. It often drives the viewer to make remarks to things that the building could resemble. The most common association is a ‘ship’ due to the fact that the metal cladded hyperbolic edge is pointing at the lake. In truth, this was a found appropriate way to solve the exterior and interior space for the volume of the main court room, which was, at the same time, two pre defined boundaries with an amplitude of 30º. A curved shape seemed to solve better this condition, both in the interior and exterior, for the enclosure of a gathering hall. The stainless steel cladding proved also to render a better expression and better feasibility for such a constructive shape.

People say that the sword of justice is also displayed at night-time in the profile of this hyperbolic shape. Still, this happens due to the strong flood lights we directed to this surface and the only light we can see is the hyperbolic profile that corresponds to their reflection, whatever the location one is, as it is most difficult for a gloss surface to hold and diffuse light.

It’s still our conviction that all of the architecture of this building is rather abstract, though plastically functional, and is not supposed to look like anything as nothing in it is absolutely figurative, but we accept the remarks of resemblance.

Generally we achieved a strong contrasted architecture at different levels of light and texture which strongly identifies the elements that shape the architecture, producing the chiaro/scuro effect that the volumes can hardly render only by the weak cutting effect of tropical light.

Nam Van Lakes - Building Location

(Photo courtesy of MV Atelier de Arquitectura)


Lighting on the Stainless steel cladding calotte 

Iluminação da calote de aço inox

Stainless steel cladding calotte facing the lake

Calote orientada ao lago revestida a aço inox


Perspective of the computer model - Main Entrance

Perspectiva do Modelo de computador - Entrada Principal

Lighting of the Varanda of the Function Hall

Iluminação da varanda do Salão Nobre

Varanda of the Function Hall

Varanda do Salão Nobre

Perspective of the model - Main Entrance

Fotografia da Maqueta - Entrada Principal

South View of the Main Entrance

Vista Sul da Entrada Principal

Aerial Perspective of the computer model - Main Entrance

Perspectiva aérea do Modelo de computador - Entrada Principal

Aerial Perspective of the computer model - Superior Court and Legislative Assembly - Ensemble Lake View

Perspectiva aérea do Modelo de computador - Edifício dos Tribunais e Edifício da Assembleia Legislativa - Vista de conjunto do lago

Perspective of the computer model - Superior Court and Legislative Assembly - Ensemble Lake View

Perspectiva do Modelo de computador - Edifício dos Tribunais e Edifício da Assembleia Legislativa - Vista de conjunto do lago

Perspective of the computer model - Superior Court and Legislative Assembly - East Lake View

Perspectiva do Modelo de computador - Edifício dos Tribunais e Edifício da Assembleia Legislativa - Vista Nascente do conjunto

Perspective of the computer model - View from the Superior Court Ground floor Loggia/Porte Cochère

Perspectiva do Modelo de computador - Vista do Átrio exterior do Edifício dos Tribunais 


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Last updated: 03 Jul 2016


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