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Today we continue to discuss the remaining two famous Pátio da Ilusão and my favorite Patio das Seis Casa.

Pátio da Ilusão

Located in the small streets, Pátio da Ilusão, also known as “Go Lao Lei”, located in the old shop. From rumor people who smoked opium in the houses got its name; consisted merge-in of five houses. Two houses have now collapsed, leaving only three old two-storey houses; the place locked and emptied out for many years.

The entrance beautifully designed with green brick arches. There was a gate back in the old days. Those subtle traces could still seen in other photo. Above the archway, the remaining sculptures, murals and texts can still be clearly seen. There are ancient shutters on the wall; painted murals and poems under the eaves on the top of the door wall, showing the style of the past.

There is more space on both sides of the building inside the enclosures. One side is a five-storey concrete building, and the other is a dilapidated green brick house. When turned to the end on the right hand side, some buildings have been demolished and covered by hoardings.

From the periphery of the iron gate, the attic has completely collapsed; roof residuals completely left behind, debris piled up like a mountain. Traces of the front courtyard and the backyard used to be the residence of wealthy people. The precious green-brick houses owned over a hundred years old have been left emptied for decades.

The Damaged Heritage

In 2016, the environment was damaged so badly. The owners did not show up, due to ownership issues, and the government did not intervene to follow up. In the following year, the owner turned up and applied the issuance of a draft planning conditional map. In return, the Macao Cultural Bureau issued binding opinions on the planning conditions of the heritage. It is required to preserve the current appearance of the building and the roof shall not be heightened. The restoration and preservation plan should be submitted for approval by the bureau urban development.

No further action completed so far. It was really heartbreaking to see the recent building conditions on last week’s visit. It is also the place where I took the longest time taking photo shots.

Patio das Seis Casa

Patio das Seis Casa, also known as Fok Lok Wai, is named because six buildings were there. It is also a well-preserved place in the entire surroundings. The six houses formed L street shaped; There is a well in the rear courtyard, which is unusable now. The well was utilised to make it convenient for the residents avoiding carry water that far away, which now reflected the living environment of the years.

Because of this, the location of the well is a public space. A long table is usually placed for dining in the neighbors on the left and right buildings. Children played games in the enclosure, and the elderly enjoy time, sitting down and start chatting. There is no need to lock or close the door with full consciousness at all. Such close connection between neighbors’ lives is difficult to acquire in Macau, under such full skyscrapers place. At the corridor’s entrance, you can see elements such as archways, cross-buildings, god of land and digging well cultures. It is a perfect demonstration unit for the way of settlement.

The Most beautiful Patio das Seis Casa

The buildings around Patio das Seis Casa have been dilapidated. Most of the residents have moved out – only one old lady with her family were left behind in the ending enclosures, behind the well. The outer wall body is almost intact; it is a more complete building complex when compared. Many existing green brick and tile roofs are two-storey high-rise buildings – with brick and wood structure. Most of which remain its old feature.

There is a wide stone wall outside, with a scaffolding under repair. The iron ring outside the big wooden doorway is still preserved in the upper part of the door, which has changed to an iron gate. A god of land was placed at the door to keep the family safe. The two-storey green brick building inside the enclosure is quite intact; the old wooden carved windows still exist, and the tile roof eaves are slightly damaged, due to the washing of the years.

Patio das Seis Casa Interiors

The four houses near the entrance in Patio das Seis Casa have two doors in the basement, one large and one small. In the past this kind of old building only had one door at most. Entering directly is the hall, and on the side is a wooden staircase to the second floor housing. Due to the increase in the residential households, large families have successively sub-rented, partitioned to stay separately; Different family households lived on the upper and lower floors in each unit. Therefore, an additional doorway was opened at the stairway to separate the upper and lower floor neighbors into independent units. Therefore, currently have two doorways.

Integrate with culture and history

George Vitalievich Smirnoff and his family fled from Hong Kong to Macau during the Japanese War of Resistance against Japan. They lived in one of the buildings in Patio das Seis Casa. Although living on the shabby second floor inside, those stayout period was quite meaningful for him. Later, life improved and decided did not move too far away, but rather they moved to Rua da Prata, which is very close to Patio das Seis Casa. According to historical records, this new home became his inspiration for painting.

The Vanishing streets and enclosures

In recent years, the so-called plans for redevelopment of old districts and urban renewal have been reported in the news; Based on reality found, they cannot adapt to the pace of today’s development, nor can they retain the historical value of cultural relics. They only consider the remaining exterior wall landscapes; which is not enough to retain its original features of the old Macau’s alleyways.

We should start from the small tiny part, repair the old worn outs, and try to use similar building materials to restore its original look. Injecting the revisiting of the story-telling throughout the years, and describing the life in the historical surroundings in detail. All these can truly revitalized and promote the unique features of old Macau districts.

Looking forward

Similarly, there are more than two hundred similar Pàtios and Becos in Macau that have been included in the list of Heritage protected areas in the old city; should be linked together to expand the scope of protection; in return, to maintain the integrity of the neighborhoods; in order to protect the long and timeless style of Macau. It may be considered to inject more multi functional usage plans after restoration of Pàtios and Becos.

Perhaps it may lead to a new form of cultural tourism in Macau somehow, to make a true, “real” contribution to the construction of the new Travelling route, acting as part of the “World Tourism and Leisure Center”. When compared to other options, it could found more meaningful not just to consider temporarily repairing endangered buildings projects or reconstruct new buildings; putting up a thought just purely to make huge profits in future real estate regains.

Angela Fung