Two outstanding designs have been acknowledged by the same Awards, submitted by the LBA Arquitectura e Planeamento architecture and planning firm. One of its partners is architect Rui Leão, who also chairs the Board of the International Council of Portuguese-Speaking Architects (CIALP) and ranks among the confirmed speakers at UIA2021RIO. These honours were bestowed by the 2020 Rethinking the Future – Architecture, Construction & Design Awards. Held every year, this global event encompasses many different architectural segments, ranging from housing to transport infrastructure, industrial buildings, hotels, stores, schools, cultural facilities, and many others. This year, some 1,200 entries were submitted from more than forty countries and territories, all seeking the Rethinking the Future prizes for architecture, design, and construction.
According to the organisers of this contest, the winners were chosen because they “focused on excellence and innovation”. the Barra Public Transport Interchange (BPTI) entry took second place, with the Fai Chi Kei Public Housing Complex coming in third. Both are located in Macau, which is also home to the LBA head offices.
The BPTI is an underground station and parking facility for public tour buses and private automobiles in the Barra district. Covering almost 36,000 m², the intervention area runs under one of the busiest scenic thoroughfares in this region: the Avenida Panorâmica, alongside the Lago Sai Van lake.
With three basement floors and a further two stories, this building houses a public bus terminal whose station platforms are at the same level as the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in Macau. This structure is designed to streamline transfers among different modes of transport, including trains, buses, cabs, and private automobiles.
As the station is underground, it is covered by green roofing that forms a raised public recreation area, which is aligned with the natural suspended landscape concept that invites passers-by to relax, while also offering services and shops. The intention of its designers was to ease pressures on the core area and encourage pedestrian flows, separated from vehicle traffic.
According to Rui Leão, there was a geographical gap at this location, between the old Chinese city in the west and the area colonised by the Portuguese in the East. By connecting these two urban hubs, this project introduces innovative facilities that link them into a continuous whole through a pedestrian-friendly landscape.
A video on this project is available through YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJb8GhtCte8.
The other prize-winning entry submitted by LBA in the 2020 Rethinking the Future Awards – the Fai Chi Kei Public Housing Complex – is a social housing cluster commissioned by the government. With a high population density, Macau suffers from rampant property speculation.
"In 2010, the government decided to develop some plots of land in the city through social housing; we were commissioned to design a building in the North zone of the peninsular, which is one of the most densely-populated areas of the city,” comments Rui Leão. The challenge was to build more than 700 apartments in a relatively small city block, while still complying with the regulations.
The most common structure for large buildings in Macau and Hong Kong – a concourse and towers – was rejected by the architects. Instead, they decided to integrate the different floors, designing two large apartment buildings with elevator lobbies leading to inner courtyards, with common circulation areas and stores. These two blocks are linked by bridges at four-story intervals. Together with the social areas at the concourse level, they form a three-dimensional structure of common open spaces.
The LBA architecture and planning firm was set up in 1996 by Rui Leão and Francesca Carlotta Bruni, who is also an architect.
Designed in 2015, the Fai Chi Kei Complex was awarded a Gold Medal by the Macau Architects Association in 2017. A video on this project is available at: https://vimeo.com/431138049/3e11d8eb8e.
More detailed information on these projects is available on the LBA website: http://lbamacau.net/.
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