Macau: Lou Kau Mansion

Together with my parents we visited Macau again. Macau is just an hour on the ferry away from Hong Kong, so it’s very easy to get to. We really enjoy visiting this former Portuguese city, as it is so different from Hong Kong and with the mix of Chinese of Portuguese elements it has so much to offer. In 2011 I’ve been four times to Macau  and I really enjoy that there is always something new to discover.

This time, we visited the Lou Kau Mansion for the first time. The mansion is believed to be built in 1889. It was the home of Lou Kau, a prominent Chinese merchant who owned several imposing properties in the city.

Lou Kau Mansion is a two-storey, traditional grey-brick courtyard house, with the architectural characteristics of a typical Xiguan Chinese residential building. The facade of the house has a recessed entrance, which creates an overhanging eave for weather protection while also providing a shelter for relief frieze decorations above the grand entrance, common in the housing design of the Lingnan region.

The house has a symmetric arrangement, organized in a three-by-three grid of spaces. The two courtyards in the central axis separate the three main halls, namely the Entrance Hall (Men Guan Hall), the Tea Hall (Sedan Hall) and the Senior Hall (Tou Hall) on ground level.

This spatial arrangement demonstrates the hierarchical structure of Chinese families where the spaces further inside the house are reserved for senior members, and are more private, away from the view of guests.

Although the house is typically Chinese in its structure, the decorative motifs also integrate subtle western influences as well as techniques from other regional sources, including oyster shell applications on the windows, inclusion of neo-classical balustrades and perforated wooden ceilings, similar to those found inside Macao’s churches, a technique that can also be found in Latin America.


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