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198 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque 199 11. Is Postmodern Macao’s Architecture Baroque? Is Postmodern Macao’s Architecture Baroque? Chapter 11 109. View of Sands from Museum of Fine Arts 110. Legislative Assembly Like photograph 88, photograph 109 plays with illusions that are already there, looking out onto reclaimed land from inside Macao Cultural Centre (1999, architect Bruno Soares), with stairs mirrored in the glass, surveying illusionistic floorlevels , which though flat appear to be bevelled, across to the rounded towers of the Sands Casino, the lower one being seen here. These towers have been compared with UFOs, or with rockets, or more suggestively, with syringes, sucking money out of the gamblers. Beyond Sands is Fisherman’s Wharf. Art and illusion are put against each other, except that art is also illusion. This reclaimed land is the part of Macao where visitors who come from the jet-foil which ferries gamblers and others from Hong Kong will find themselves initially. And this seems to be inhabited so much by new casinos. It requires getting beyond this space, past the large international hotels, to get to the older, baroque Macao. This chapter, and the next, suggests that there has been a desire to see modern Macao in Venetian terms. This certainly appears in the architectural work of the Lisbon-born (in 1962) Mário Duarte Duque for the Legislative Assembly and the Supreme Court (the Court of Final Appeal). 1 These are both situated on the Nam Van Lake, and jut out onto the water. The Legislative Assembly is the simpler building, basically rectangular, but this is 200 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque disguised by placing its main entrance onto a corner of the building, away from the waterfront. The entrance comes out in a bevelled form which continues the sense of an ovaloid shape, which is how the floor-space of the atrium appears inside. The entrance has a massive overhanging canopy, looking from the side like an open mouth, and is so arranged that though it is perfectly symmetrical, it looks a little off-centred — an effect helped by the steps up to it which are not curved but cornered, and by its possessing only one window above, set to one side. The rounded corner above the entrance, massive, has no features at all, but looks like the blank wall shape that Herman Melville in Moby-Dick described the sperm whale as having for forehead. A blind wall, then. If the entrance may indeed be thought of as slightly off-centred in appearance, the symbolic intention may be to say to the person who approaches the building that however much they think they know, they are not quite equal to the proceedings of the legislators. The absence above the entrance of a flanking window to balance the other and the paucity of windows seem to deny transparency in government (the contrast with Norman Foster’s glass-dominated Reichstag building in Berlin (1999 — the same year) is obvious). It seems to give nothing to the person approaching. The entrance faces onto empty grassland and away from casinos on the other side of the Nam Van Lake, as if blind to their existence. If it looks at anything, it is back to Penha Hill, and to the buildings climbing up to Penha Church from the line of old trees that marked the Praya Grande and the limits of land (see photograph 65). Behind the Legislative Assembly stands the Court of Final Appeal (1999) — the Tribunais de Segunda e Última Instâncias: ultimate, appropriately, because this is as far as the land gets before the sea. Its position enforces the point that behind government stands the rule of law. It has been designed as virtually two buildings, linked at the upper storey. The one that looks out to sea has, predictably, a prow like a ship’s. The one that looks to land, and towards the Macao tower, is more traditional. The buildings are separated by a passageway wide enough to take a car, and the building to the left displays, as the visitor looks into it, a Dr Caligarilike Expressionistic exaggerated sense of perspective, where lines recede in grossly accentuated diagonals. (The shadow cast by the building to the right only intensifies the feeling of potential menace.) The left-side building, in fact, seems to be leaning on the other. (What does Justice lean on?) Throughout these two buildings which are in fact one, the rectangular box-shape which makes it...

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