The IAM Building is the earliest and most significant public building of Macao. At the time of the Portuguese administration in Macao, it was the premises of Municipal Council which was the autonomous administrative body of Macao and, after Macao's return to the motherland, it was the IACM building. Currently, it is the headquarters of the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM).
The IAM building had undergone repeated reconstruction and repair works to take its present shape. Built in 1784, it went through large-scale reconstruction after devastation by typhoon in 1874, coupled with termite damage. In 1876, the reconstruction was completed. After the completion of its final massive repairs in 1940, the architectural appearance of the building is preserved till present day.
Currently, the building serves as the headquarters of the Municipal Affairs Bureau. At first, it was the office of the Municipal Council for administration of Macao. In addition to the general municipal services, it also included the museum, post office, medical and health services, fire services, court and prison. Over time, they were moved out and independently operated.
After the official establishment of the Municipal Affairs Bureau on 1 January 2019, the history-laden building with great cultural significance is renamed the IAM Building.
Included in the Historic Centre of Macao, the long-standing IAM Building (the then IACM Building) was inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2005.
The Grand Hall is used for holding ceremonies, meetings and press conferences, as well as IAM's open sessions to the public that are scheduled for the last Friday of each month. The spacious hall is richly furnished with wood and ornamented with delicate craftsmanship. The border between the ceiling and the walls is embellished with hand-drawn patterns.
Chapel inside the Grand Hall
Built in 1940, the small Catholic chapel is located on one side of the Grand Hall. Participants of the regular senatorial meetings in the old days used to pray or attend mass in the chapel before the meeting sessions. The statues of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Macao, are venerated in the chapel.
The Conference Room is the place where the Administration Committee on Municipal Affairs holds its meetings and receives distinguished guests.
Currently managed by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, the library is one of the oldest public libraries in Macao. In the 1950s, it was praised by an English newspaper in Hong Kong as one of the most luxurious in the East. Opened in 1929, it is a reflection of the architectural style of Convent of Mafra of Portugal. Its interior is furnished in the style of the era of D. João V of Portugal to exude an air of graceful elegance. Of the around 20,000 books under its collection, some are rare and antiquarian. Among them, there is the first Portuguese newspaper of Macao published in 1822.
Over the top of the wall of the entrance hall, there is an arched wooden banner inscribed with the following in Portuguese, "Cidade do Nome de Deus, Não Há Outra Mais Leal" (City in the name of God, no other city is more loyal). It was bestowed on Macao by King D. João IV of Portugal in commendation of Macao's loyalty towards the Portuguese king during the Spanish rule of Portugal (1580-1640).
The walls of the entrance hall are inlaid with stone carvings of significant historic value. They were sourced from different places of Macao by the Luís de Camões Museum at the time when it was housed in the building.
Of the different pieces, the carving in relief of Holy Mary above the
entrance of the archway to the garden was originally inlaid into the wall of the church of the Holy House of Mercy, the first charitable institution of Macao. When the church was demolished in 1883, the carving in relief was moved to where it is nowadays.
The walls extending from both sides of the entrance of the IAM Building to its garden are beautifully ornamented with traditional Portuguese ceramic tiles in blue and white as the design focus, which are very similar to the blue and white porcelain of China. Two stone spheres are placed at the rear end of the garden, one of which is engraved with the coat of arms of Portugal and the other with an armillary sphere. They symbolise Portugal's important contribution to opening the world's seaways during the Age of Discovery, its glorious seafaring exploration and adventurous spirit.
Two busts stand on both sides of the flowerbed. One of them is a representation of Luís Vaz de Camões, the great Portuguese poet who is world famous for his epic work "Os Lusíadas". The other is the educator João de Deus, which was placed there in memory of the time when the public schools of Macao were managed by the Municipal Council. Atop the fountain behind the flowerbed, there is a carving of a coat of arms with a royal crown. Each side of the fountain is embellished with a strand of grapevine.
Gallery and Gift Shop
Located on the right side of the entrance hall, the Gallery has been the venue for holding a variety of cultural and art exhibitions ever since it was opened in 1985. The Gift Shop, located on the left side of the entrance hall, was opened in 2012, with the current sale of souvenirs and books about IAM and Macao.