Project, Intervention Models and Cities

The area of the Bairro da Ilha Verde, Macau, 2008.

A final illustration, from a different type of colonial relationship, that of Portuguese colonialism in China, comes from the landfill site of the Bairro da Ilha Verde in Macao in the second quarter of the 20th Century, with an embryonic sites & services programme to transform a neighbourhood mapped in 1929 as the ‘Neighbourhood of the Chineze Indigent’ (Jesus, 1990, p. 128) into the informal but monitored settlement of a population of fishermen-turned-industrial-workers for a gun powder factory.


In these and other projects throughout the colonial landscape, there was a tentative response to conditions of inequality and segregation, involving a play between the architectural use of cheap construction materials and urban planning methodologies such as mapping or zoning. In other words, architects and planners working in colonial cities negotiated their practice in the interstices between freedom and power. While governing these settlements, whether using the instruments of planning or those of housing provision, a wealth of experience was also garnered and indeed, experiments on self-building for colonial populations were inspirational for the later programme of the SAAL in Portugal.