By Luciana Leitão
The court building dates back to 1951 and it originally housed government offices, as well as the judicial court and the administrative court. Today, it is being used to house temporary events or exhibitions. In the future, it will house the Macao Central Library.
It is a beautiful building. Whoever looks at it imagines the story behind it, even th0ugh it has been relatively inactive for the past years. Designated as a “building of architectural and artistic value,” it is now destined to become the future home of the Macao Central Library.
As I write, The Script Road — Macau Literary Festival is taking place, filling the rooms on the ground floor with authors, exhibitions and all sorts of artistic inputs. It is nice to see it active, filled with life, almost brought back to life.
Still, there is a bigger project planned for the old court building, than simply relegating it to an occasional venue for exhibitions and artistic events. It will become the New Central Library of the city, a project that is far from being consensual. “In order to allow Macao’s sustainable cultural development, promote knowledge to the general public and consolidate cultural pillars, the MSAR Government considers the construction of the New Central Library an important cultural task, which will become a cultural landmark of the city after its conclusion,” the Cultural Affairs Bureau says, in a note published in its website.
Today, the old court building is classified as “a building of architectural interest” and of “important cultural significance”. With that said, the Cultural Affairs Bureau has assured “it will strictly abide to the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Protection Law regarding the protection of this heritage building”, including its overall preservation. “The preservation will include the façade and roof, the inner structure, the floors as well as characteristic spaces and elements, among others.” Plus, according to this note released to the public, the New Central Library will result in a selection of “the best architectural project”, becoming an example of a building which “harmoniously combines historical and modern architectural features.”
Let’s see. In principle, I like the idea. The idea of seeing this fantastic building turned into a cultural landmark of the city, making it alive again. In practical terms, I’m cautious. I want to see which project will come to life and how it will appear. Let’s hope we can talk about it as a good example of cultural policy.