‘A cultural activity with an irreversible impact on the behaviour of its own species.‘
Building. One of the greatest driving forces of mankind. Although building may not have been passed on as the first survival strategy in the genetic programming, mankind itself has developed this building into a cultural activity with an irreversible impact on the behaviour of its own species, but it also has an irreversible impact on other inhabitants of our host planet, on everything that moves and grows there.
The last few decades have made it painfully clear what our collective building activities, which are a literal accumulation of centuries of building with the same force and typology, bring about. In the last century, this power has been squared by the development of several technological innovations. Gigantic structures of concrete are spread across the surface of the earth. These mega-structures are mainly monocultures where only people live and work together with a few domesticated animals and plants. What we don’t think belongs there is at best tolerated, kept outside or removed.
Cities are concentrated agglomerations that stand alone and function individually. The link between these structures is the infrastructure, created by the systematic development of footpaths. In the last century, this has developed into an enormous network of roads that make almost every corner of this planet accessible. An unprecedented structure with the same typology throughout the world has been laid out in rapid succession. The joint building force has created something that is both a blessing and a disaster. Blessing for the development of peoples and the individual human being, disaster for nature through which all roads have been drawn. Also, the vehicles; cars, trains, ships, planes, have been designed in such a way that they contribute to an irreversible climate change. Hardly anyone denies this nowadays.
location: Impromptu Storefront, Macau
Impromptu Projects, Macau
Ephemera Public Space Cooperative, Macau
duration: September 22 – December 31, 2021
PROLOGNED! > February 27, 2022
curators: João Ó and Rita Machado
© photography Courtesy of Impromptu Projects
Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for Hong Kong and Macau SARs.
Institute of European Studies of Macau.
Impromptu Storefront (installation)
AAM premise (on site + zoom webinar)
Zoom Webinar organizer:
Architecture Association of Macau
Besides roads and train tracks, which have exactly the same appearance almost everywhere on earth, there is also another infrastructure, a more invisible one of planes and ships that move around the world via less clear lines. But here too, a common typology has developed that is remarkable.
In order to supply and transport these vehicles, artificial landscapes are constructed such as harbours and airports with bridges and viaducts that can grow into gigantic artificial constructions. This infrastructure together is the largest collective edifice ever made. I see them as the cathedrals of our time. A system that links everything to everything and connects or could connect everyone to everyone. Many connections have already been made, but also many have not yet been made; the possibilities for connection are inexhaustible.
These artificial landscapes are contradictory. On the one hand, they are a great connective structure with their own typology that emphasises the genius of man, our species. They are a creation of the highest order that brings together all technical innovations. Infra has always been the vehicle of progress, always offered the opportunity for technical development to the vehicles that use it, and vice versa, infra is also constantly being improved as the technology of the vehicles changes. Innovation and architecture by engineers have a serving esthetic that is unobtrusive, but can also lead to enormous heights in building power and technology that have a specific beauty in them. Few people will fail to be impressed by viaducts, tunnels, dams, dykes, bridges, land reclamation projects, harbours and airports.
This beauty is distinct – and of a different order – from what nature itself creates. We have created something parallel to nature that is unnatural, that turns against the force that created it. This is the direct opposite of this beauty. For although developed consciously and with the right intentions, it has unconsciously led to a great crisis that is only at the beginning of its development. It can now no longer be denied that everything that makes it possible for us to live in a different way from the way we used to, now also threatens us.
The installation for Impromptu is located in Macau where, since the arrival of the Portuguese, has been an infrahub, a port to establish a relationship between China and the West. The peninsula has been made bigger by land reclamation projects and port development, and even an airport has been built in the sea. You can feel this force and it is also visible in the floor plans.
The installation literally combines artificial harbour landscapes from Macau, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Portugal and the Netherlands into a structure to establish relationships that have been there for centuries but are not concretely visible, a beauty in cohesion. On the other hand, with this installation emphasises that infra, our interventions, are not without effect and must be seen as a destructive force on nature.
from left to right: Jimmy Wardhana (Board of Directors of Architects Association of Macau), Christine Choi (President of Architects Association of Macau), Rita Machado (Director of Impromptu Storefront), João Ó (Director of Impromptu Storefront), Hugo Couto (President of General Assembly of Ephemera Public Space Cooperative), Dr. Jose Luis Sales Marques (President of Institute of European Studies of Macau), Francisco Ricarte (Board of Directors of Architects Association of Macau), Chan Si Kei (Board of Directors of Ephemera Public Space Cooperative).