By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The SAR government is going to start over the architectural concept design for the new Central Library to be located in the Nam Van old court by holding another contest this year.
President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau (ICM) Ung Vai Meng said the winning entries in the previous concept design competition held in 2008 will not be used anymore.
The Cultural Advisory Committee yesterday held its first plenary meeting of the year which was chaired by Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Cheong U at the Mandarin’s House.
According to Ung, the committee agreed to add more environmental elements in the architectural design of the Central Library and also to provide more space in the building for local artists to showcase their works.
“Having taken into consideration that more new architects and designers have returned to Macau”, the ICM president said, “we have decided to start over the design work for the Central library in a new competition.”
He did not give further reasons for the decision, but added that since the requirements for the library facilities have changed, “we think it’s the right time to restart the work”.
ICM vice president Stephen Chan Chak Seng said the winning designs of the previous contest will be served as an “empirical experience for the next competition, but will not be considered again for the final architectural design of the Central Library”.
The SAR government in April 2008 launched an architectural concept design competition for the new Central Library in which only invited architects could participate.
However, despite the winners were selected and cash rewards were given out, it was surrounded by controversies regarding the fairness and transparency of the process, which also led to the interference of the Commission Against Corruption. After that, very little progress had been made on the Central Library plan.
This time the competition will be open to all Macau-registered architects and the ICM vice-president said winners of the 2008 contest will be allowed to join the race.
Chan told reporters that the bureau will begin drafting the rules and details for the competition and afterwards the timetable in April.
He also said that the ICM will follow the competition rules and standards of the International Union of Architects and representatives from the Architects Association of Macau will be in the judging panel, in order to ensure fairness and impartiality.
The contest will be divided into two parts – the first round will be on conceptual design aimed to encourage architects to showcase their creativity and architectural concepts, and afterwards the selected entries will enter the final round in which the contestants’ actual architectural design capacities will be tested, which is about the feasibility of their design proposals, Chan added.
Ung Vai Meng said it is expected that the first round results will be announced at the end of this year and the final results in mid-2011.
On the other hand, Ung said the advisory committee agreed that if Macau has to develop cultural and creative industries, first of all the government must have to put our cultural resources in order.
“We are thinking of selecting some locations to display Macau’s achievements in cultural and creative industries and also making use of opportunities to display our design, fashion design or architectural works outside of Macau,” he said.
In May, Macau will participate in the Shenzhen Cultural and Creative Fair where a Macau Pavilion will be built.
The ICM is going to set up a Department for the Promotion of Cultural and Creative Industries. Ung said the bureau will refer to the successful experiences in neighbouring regions, and first focus on the development of visual arts, publishing and architecture, followed by music and performance, and then audio and video areas.
In addition, Ung said the bureau has been in talks with the Institute for Tourism Studies and also through its own training programs to provide more tour guide services in local attractions.
Such service will first be introduced at the Mandarin’s House. Trainees who meet the requirements will begin to provide tour guide services in Cantonese during the upcoming Easter holidays in early April.
Afterwards, the service will be available there every Saturday and Sunday, three sessions a day for free. Ung said other languages will be gradually provided.
Meanwhile, the ICM has been in discussions with the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) to set up signs in cultural heritage attractions.
Ung said a World Heritage logo will be shown on the signs and stories of the places will be explained in Chinese, English, Portuguese and Japanese.