MACAO A culture of ambition and creativity as catalysts for a sustainable city exhibition
CHARLES LANDRY Urban planner
this. According to its website, the cultural organisation’s mission is “to generate learning opportunities in the fields of contemporary art, architecture, and environment. BABEL is conceived as a museum without walls and aims to work in between cultures and across disciplines.” By creating activities and live events where interaction is key, BABEL draw upon the public space as their stage, transforming spectators into actors. Art curator Margarida Saraiva and architect Tiago Quadros founded BABEL in 2013. “We created the association because we felt there was a set of issues related to contemporary art, architecture, and the environment which needed to be discussed under different formats,” Quadros explains. He also underlines the need to curate different audiences, advocating for a strong education component in the form of workshops and exchange programmes with foreign schools. Macau Architecture Promenade (MAP), one of their recent projects, debúted in 2015. The idea behind the endeavour is to foster people’s interest in contemporary art and architecture by making use of public spaces: gardens, conference venues, libraries and even walls, streets, and
stairways. BABEL organised 30 international and local artists into more than 20 activities held throughout October, the international month of architecture. “The idea of MAP is to bring art into the public space,” says Quadros. However, he expresses frustration at the difficulty of putting on some of the activities due to bureaucracy and a “generalised inhibition (within local society) regarding the use of public space.” To eradicate this inhibition, he believes it is important to “break habits” and open people’s eyes to the endless possibilities.
INTEGRATED OASES ADD A COHESIVE SENSE OF URBAN BELONGING
Landry advocates that a city like Macao should establish leisure and entertainment spaces for its residents, what he calls little “oases”. The idea, he explains, is to design different areas where people go to enjoy themselves and relax in contrast with other parts of the urban cityscape which are driven by commercialism and tourism. “Isn’t city making about a hundred small things rather than one big icon?” Landry questions. NOVEMBER 2016