Author: Alexander Chapman
Tutors: Laura Allen- Mark Smout
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
The UNESCO Historic Centre of Macau becomes the modern Euraserie; a catalogue of the ‘reversed Chinoiserie’.
‘Chinoiseries’ are the European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and East Asian artistic traditions, especially in architecture, literature and decorative arts. They often contained fragmented stories, purposely and accidentally mistranslated between the cultures, often creating a skewed vision of the East from the Occident (West). The Royal Pavilion (John Nash) in Brighton forms a case study for its wealthy collection, where a series of silk wallpaper drawings are made purposely magnifying its architectural translations (the copywrong). The project also begins to speculate on the modern reversal of its tradition, whereby an Asian lens of the Occident is established in Macau now that power and wealth is more finely balanced.
The Special Administration Region of Macau, an island 40 miles west of Hong Kong, has accumulated new wealth through its rapidly growing casino industry with the Sans Cotai strip boasting a serious collection of western, ‘copyware/imitation’ architecture and evidence of a Eurasier (reverse Chinoiserie). This, disparate from its Sino/Portuguese heritage, has seen a marginalization of the UNESCO protected territory, with casinos expanding into its elected buffer zone.
This project creates an exportable series of architectural extensions to each UNESCO monument, using the notion of ‘copywrong’ – replicating its heritage architecture and ballooning its process into an ‘UNESCO resort’, whilst protecting the original component in situ using a ‘Wardian Case’ structure.
The architectural mistranslations once held in the Chinoiseries are contained within the new extensions. This deals with the wear and tear damage due to cultural tourism, whilst also creating a platform for Macau’s heritage to rival the casino skyline thus playing the casino’s at their own game with Macanese architecture and not Western imitations.