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Construction to restart on controversial skyscraper near UNESCO-listed Guia Lighthouse

Despite exceeding height restrictions, high-rise given go-ahead with modified design that is said will lessen its impact on historic area.

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Despite exceeding height restrictions, high-rise given go-ahead with modified design that is said will lessen its impact on historic area.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:39 am

A high-rise residential project on Calçada do Gaio near the historic Guia Lighthouse, which has stood idle for 14 years, has been given the go-ahead to restart construction after the developer submitted a new design, Cultural Affairs Bureau President Leong Wai Man has announced.

Building work was halted on the skyscraper after it had reached 81.32 metres in height, although the official limit for the area is 52.5 metres. The original plan proposed a height of 126.12 metres.

Choi Kin Long, who heads the bureau’s Cultural Affairs Bureau’s Heritage Department, said the new design suggests some modifications to the building’s exterior in order to reduce the impact on the landscape surrounding the lighthouse, in line with the requirements from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC).

Choi said the total height of the building can remain at 81.32 metres, the current height before construction was suspended 14 years ago.

According to Choi, the modifications include: removing the top structure in the original design with the aim of ensuring that its total height will not exceed 81.32 metres; replacing the curved façade with a linear design so as to simplify the building’s overall external structure; replacing the originally planned concrete façade with a glass-aluminium cladding.

Under the new design, the façade will be translucent, and its colour will be in harmony with the surroundings.

Choi underlined that after an assessment, the bureau has concluded that the new design meets the requirements of the WHC, however there is no timetable for the project as yet.

After the lighthouse was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005, an executive order restricted the height of buildings surrounding the lighthouse to a maximum of 52.50 metres.

Built in the 1860s, it is said to be the oldest Western-style lighthouse in Asia.

The construction of the residential high-rise in Calçada do Gaio was halted in 2008, following an executive order, as the building exceeded the then imposed official height limit. It then already stood at 81.32 metres, even though construction hadn’t been completed. The building was initially to have a height of 126.12 metres.

In 2016, the government said that it had decided to allow the height of the building to remain at 81.32 metres.

In 2019, Mok Ian Ian, the then president of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, said that the government had submitted its decision to allow the building’s height to remain at 81.32 metres to the WHC through the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in Beijing, and that the WHC did not raise any objections, The Macau Post Daily reported. 

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:39 am

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