A new extracurricular course titled Arquitectarte (Architectart, in English) is to take place at the Portuguese School of Macau, from March 1 to June 30, targeting youngsters from six to 18 years old, divided into three groups. The aim is to use architecture to teach visual communication codes as well as explain maths, science and visual arts concepts.

By Luciana Leitão

A lot has been written about whether the non-tertiary education system is stimulating creativity. Architect and designer Marieta da Costa, based in Macau for five years, felt something was missing in the regular teaching system and decided to fill that gap. She is now starting an extracurricular course at the Portuguese School of Macau, which aims at using creativity exercises, images and mockups, to develop certain competencies.

“It is a leisure activity that serves as complement to the development and the multidisciplinary learning, as, through architecture, it teaches visual communication codes and explains maths, science and visual arts concepts,” says the note released to the public. “We want the participants to develop general competencies — oral, formal, abstraction, fantasy and teamwork capabilities.”

Marieta da Costa has a degree in Interior Design, by London’s Chelsea College of Arts, as well as a degree in Architecture and a master in Contemporary Architecture by the London Metropolitan University. When she arrived in Macau, five years ago, she realised her then two-year old son was missing some activities related to the arts. “In London, there were many activities for the children and I felt my son was becoming blocked, so I started doing such activities at home”, she tells mART, adding: “But it is important for children to interact with each other.”

She started working at the kindergarten D.José Costa Nunes, two years ago, developing this type of extracurricular activities, for younger children, aged from four to six years old. And now she has received an invitation by the Portuguese School Parents Association to do the same, but to older children.

The methodology

Architecture for children “is not architecture in the real sense of the word”. It is about teaching maths, science and everything else, as “people are integrated in a space”, and, ultimately, “everything is related to architecture”.

Her classes always approach recycling concepts. “What we can keep at home and transform, that is the starting point,” she explains. “I had a very funny class — it was about an idea of a house and the younger children said a door with two windows and in the end the house was half church, half house; they kept adding elements they felt were important,” Ms Costa recalls, giving an example.

The course at the Portuguese School of Macau will be divided into three groups. The older ones, between 15 to 18 years old, have classes on friday, between 4.30 pm to 6.15 pm. “The idea of opening up a class for teenagers came up because parents kept calling me saying their children were thinking on taking a university degree related to arts and had no real notion on what is it about,” she says. “I will use mockups, which is an instrument widely used in arts, I will try to explain how the whole procedure works, starting from the brainstorm phase, do some field trips, make sketches, exchange ideas, talk about the problems in the project and help them solve them.”

Six to 10 years old children will have classes every wednesday, from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm, while those aged between 11 to 14 years old will have classes on the same day from 4.30 pm to 6.15 pm.

Admissions are up until February 25. Members of the Portuguese School Parents Association pay 960 patacas, while non-members pay 2000. The activity is subsidised by the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau.