5th year students of the University of Saint Joseph’s Bachelor of Architectural Studies displayed their graduation project in an exhibition named “On the Waterfront”. Three of these students speak with Macau Closer about their work.
Macau is the most densely populated place in the world with almost three quarters of a million people living on less than 30 square kilometers. With land being such a premium it is crucial that home-grown talent in the areas of architecture, urban planning and housing design is nurtured.
In 2012, the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) opened a new Faculty of Creative Industries, which offers some of their most successful programmes, ranging from Design, Architecture, Communication & Media, to newer fields of study, Environment and Urban Development and Information Systems. They are the only higher education body in Macau that offer Architecture, and last month students of the Bachelor degree programme exhibited their graduation projects at Creative Macau, in the Cultural Centre.
This year the projects of the final year students focused on Macau’s lakes and inner harbor. The intention was to revitalize the cultural and industrial heritage of these areas while enhancing the relationship between citizens and the waterfront. Collectively the work on display was an exciting demonstration of the talent and commitment of the next generation of Macau architects.
Gabriel Marques chose for his project an Aquatic Sports Centre on Nam Wan lake. His inspiration came from a wish to offer multiple swimming experiences that would bring much needed activity to the Nam Wan lake area. In Macau he feels there is a lack of outdoor swimming facilities, there being only one in the Tap Seac area. “It’s a family friendly activity, and Macau is a hot place, and besides, I like sports as well!” he smiles.
“I chose the location so as to bring more life to the Nam Wan area. I wanted to make the most of the beautiful waterfront, to provide more for locals. If our lakes waterfront was in Europe I imagine it would be packed with people using it, so my aquatic center would be a leisure destination on the lakes.”
“In attempting to integrate my building into the lake, I designed the front façade as a curve following the contour of the lake that will allow users to experience the wide variety of views offered by the strategic placement of the structure. The swimming experience consists of a variety of pools that are linked by a canal allowing the user to always be in the water. There is also a gym, café and changing rooms incorporated in the structure”
Aged 33, Gabriel was born in Macau. His father is from a Macau family of many generations and his mother hails from Famalicao in Northern Portugal. “Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to build things with toys, Lego. It’s very common amongst budding architects. I like the idea of building something that has a fundamental purpose for human survival.” He sees architecture as “a balance between practicality and design; I enjoy the practical side of applying solutions to a structure that I am trying to create.”
“I studied architecture in London’s Greenwich University but only completed my first year. After enjoying life in London for a few years, as soon as I heard that USJ was offering an architectural programme in Macau I enrolled”.
Now he’s graduated Gabriel would like to work in Macau for the next few years. I’m in the process of applying to local companies.”
Does he think anything like his Aquatic Center will ever be built on Nam Wan? “Oh, I wish!” he exclaims, his fellow students and he “cant wait to see something built that came from us!”
Claire Alexis May Jurado, aged 23, was born in Hong Kong of Filipino parents and grew up in Macau. “Since a young age I displayed an interest in design; I loved my art classes the most (I’m horrible at maths!)” and like Gabriel played a lot with Lego. “My parents and I were very excited about Macau’s first architectural degree programme when it was announced by USJ. I was going to take a gap year before university” but she was so keen to get started on the programme that she decided against it.
Claire’s project is a Youth Entertainment Center that she’s located on Carmo Taipa lake, between Taipa and CoTai. Her concept is derived from double exposure photography. She used the example of having two images, say a human face and a tree, and these are merged together to create an aesthetic affect. “At first the image looks confusing and complicated but the longer you look at it and in the case of a building, you experience it, the two different elements become apparent.”
In architecture, the concept of double exposure invites us to see differences that can provide the key to understanding qualities of uniqueness or similarity in architecture. Double exposure architecture implies more than optical characteristics, it implies a broader spatial order.
“I wanted to create a 3 dimensional double exposure”, Claire explains. “My youth entertainment centre is 17,000 sq meters and is two geometric shapes combined, containing classrooms, a multipurpose hall, reading area, games room, outdoor playground, family areas, and rooftop cafes.
As the building faces the lake and bird sanctuary Claire has incorporated lots of glass to make use of the lovely surroundings.
Claire is now working full time for leading architectural firm Steelman Partners. “Its just my second week at work there”, she smiles. “They’re doing several casino projects around the world. My work involves a lot of drafting and schematic designs. The team is amazing – I’m not a robot sat in the corner and forgotten about, they really try and invest time and effort in me which is good value for both the company and me.”
23 year old Tiago Guilherme Cheong was born in Macau of a Chinese father and Macanese mother. “I’m lucky”, he says, “I can speak Mandarin, Cantonese, English and Portuguese. I attended the Portuguese school, and when I finished 12th grade I immediately enrolled in USJ’s architectural programme.”
“Since I was in kindergarten I’m told I was a very creative boy, and this, it seems, has continued as I grew up. My auntie was a teacher of architectural history – she kept telling me about ancient Grecian architecture, and when, after the big fire in 1700s in Lisbon, the city was renewed and architecture really began again there.”
“In USJ, we have good professors from overseas. They’re widely traveled and have a lot of experience, which makes it interesting for us as we get to see the diversity in architecture. We were fortunate in being able to study the architecture in different places around the world.”
Tiago chose for his project to design a 7,585 square meter Intercrossing Transportation Hub, located on the Inner Harbour’s Rua do Doutor Lourenco Pereira Marques. “A transportation hub in the Inner Harbour fits well to helping people get around Macau easily. It not only means a hub, but also means emotions because this is the place where people say hello and goodbye to their families, a place of greetings and farewells. In also incorporated a bus terminal because there is an existing one in front of the site but without any quality, so in my design I will solve all the problems that we have now. Nowadays the development of Macau is making the city growing incredibly but the majority of the development is on the industry side, in casinos and hotels, and with few improvements to transportation.
He considers the Inner Harbor is a popular a tourist point, being close to Barra and the must see Ah Ma Temple, and to the old city of Macau. “The Inner harbor was an important trading point in the old days, where all the ships would come and go. Now the transportation is confusing: bus stops here, taxi stops there. And then there’s the light rail station soon to open less than a kilometer away.” Being located on the waterfront Tiago’s project would also be accessible to marine traffic. “My aim is to connect all the different transports, mixing functionality with design. My building is the continuation of the landscape from Penha hill, bringing the curve of the hill down to the waterside.
Now he’s graduated, what are his plans? “I’m interviewing now with some large local firms but for now I want to spend the summer traveling. I hope to get several years of experience before doing my Masters in architecture at Melbourne University. “I’m still deciding between urban planning or design.”
Photo credits: Eduardo Martins for Macau Closer magazine