THE CREATIVE CITY • A NUM
LOOK UPON IT
At the dawn of the 21st.
Century, those who hold power are, in a general way, in a crossroad, confronted
with the crucial decision the history demands from them, and which consists of a
The continuation of the use of solutions based on exhausted policies in a
climate of decline or the reinvention of the city as a vibrant source of
creativity that will also lead to an improvement of quality of life.
What appears to be factual is that it is not possible anymore to face the
challenges of a new century with models rooted in out of date orders when
somewhere in the world out there economies based on new concepts are galloping.
The Creative City is not only just a new social contract mas also a method of
strategic planning, examining the way how people can think, plan and act
creatively in a city. In short, it is the election of the full dialogue mode
with the aim of conducting all to a better understanding of how humanization and
revitalization can take place, making cities more productive and efficient,
recovering the talent and the imagination of citizens.
What in essence distinguishes the concept of the Creative City is the election
of culture as the fundamental element for something that is vital:
the clarified vision that culture, in its globalizing understanding, necessarily
Almost al of us, no matter how well structured the cities in which we live in,
legitimately hope for more.
We do not live isolated, but in a global community where our closest neighbour
can be someone living in Alaska. For this reason it becomes evident that one has
to find in well succeeded experiences sources of inspiration, but not models.
Let us accept that there are innovative ways for the creation of jobs, for the
usage of technologies, for the release of knowledge in all ages of man.
All the stage for this adventure is the City, it’s total architecture that
inspires and convokes, that surrounds the citizen and which should stimulate him
to interact in a constructive way.
The Century of Cities
After the closure of the fastest century in the history of man, the entrance of
the 21st. century becomes not just a reflexive thought of the recent past, but
leads, in the way I view it, to the conclusion coming from the importance of
multi-ethnicity and multi-culturalism: this will be the century of the cities.
For the first time it is possible to conclude that the search for better life
conditions at world level lead to the fact the half the population of the world
live in cities.
In Europe the statistics point to 75% while the under developing countries will
soon reach 50%, when, just two decades ago, the migration tax was at 29%.
But the option for the cities comes more from necessity than from will. A study
done in the United Kingdom in 1997 indicated that 84% of its inhabitants would
wish to be able to live in small villages compared to the 4% that actually
populate these villages.
This leads to the ethic imperative of turning the cities in places of quality of
life, recreating the values that people know that exist in small agglomerates:
A sense of belonging, an exact perception of one’s place in the social
structure, guarantees of continuity, of security and predictability, articulated
with the possibility to enjoy urban facilities such as commerce, interaction,
leisure and, above all, creativity.
Some Occurring Changes
The notion of creative city does not come by chance. The changes that occur in
the world are not predictable nor posses the regular evolutive order to which we
became accustomed to.
The centers of production moved to places of much reduced costs, while
technological centers are changing at an unprecedented speed, bringing with them
radical economical and social changes.
In front of our eyes some apparently scary transformations are taking place, but
that must be taken as challenges.
- The concept of creation of wealth is much less interested in the manipulation
of material goods or even services. The transformation of data into information
and its consequent manipulation and added value are in the direct proportion
with the competitive factors which moved away from coal and gold into a new era
of creative and imagination power.
- On the other hand, the concept of governance, that before was concerned with
the role of hierarchies is transforming itself into more horizontal structures,
with more shared responsibilities between government and institutions of
society, structures arising from joint-ventures or mixed capital, networks or
even virtual organizations. That is to say that the concept of power cannot be
anymore something that is exercised in the traditional way but rather in a
dialoguing relationship based in the simple fact that with what each one knows,
no encyclopedia can be completed, neither can it be without what each of the
team knows. It is once more the convocation of the social contract as
- The concept of vital cycles is also in transformation. Societies are
distancing themselves for the old system of education-work-retirement towards an
era of resource maximization based in a continuous learning and the usage of all
ages. That is to say, neither the young nor the women or the elderly are
expendables. On the contrary, the creative city implies the utilization and
insertion of all, as creative elements integrated in the network of efficiency
that can be seen as obvious.
- The concept of time is changing with instant communications in real time
through different time zones, bringing with its emergence changes in the pattern
of work, of commerce and of free time.
- Directly connected to the above change, the concept of place also brought a
redefinition of sedentarism. Fixation and apparent immobility transformed itself
in a situation of hyper-mobility where already a lot of people move between
multiple places, real and virtual.
- In front of this redefinition of concepts of time and space as a physical or
virtual place, it is necessary to rethink the idea of communication, since
through virtual place the convergence of the written word, image and sound,
announcing new ways of interactive development.
- These changes challenge even the concept of thought. It is necessary to think
as a network, think integrated.
Taking in consideration these sampling of changes that have been taking place,
the represent an indicator of the necessity of accept a new understanding of the
ordainment of reality and the conceptualization of the world. New times require
CULTURE AS SUPPORT TO THE CREATIVE ACTION
It is important to reconvert our conceptual perception of city, which cannot be
the post-industrial revolution machine but rather a system, or even an organism
that Confucius described as a weave of affection and mutual care.
Cultural conscience it is one fundamental added value and the driving force for
the transformation of the urban space into a more imaginative city.
This approach of the Creative City is based in the idea of culture while a set
of values in permanent evolution, in ways of life and forms of creative
expression, becoming the field within which creativity emerges and manifests
itself propitiating the dynamic for development.
In this context, natural resources are the raw material and the added value for
the ignition of renovation, while the process of creativity will be the group of
means through which the identified cultural resources are identified, evaluated
and invested of the necessary means, while one will say that the cultural
planning will be the process of identifying projects, build plans and manage the
strategic implementations based on said identification of resources.
However, it is important to clarify that cultural planning is not the planning
of culture, since in the recent past it had a profile that could be resumed in:
• Racial, ethnic or nationalising
• Stable, unchangeable and of fixed root
• Authoritarian, privileged and authentic
• Superior or inferior
• Primitive or refined, factual and unarguable
Today there is the idea more and more consolidated, with special incidence in
multi-racial societies, that this cultural monolithism is not only outdated but
condemned to extinction.
A new definition, or perhaps it should be called a creative indefinition, is
born for the culture of the 21st. century:
• A Complex idea, Compromised and Contested
• Miscigenated, Unequal and Ambiguous
• Contextual and Historical
• Conjunctural, Dissonant and Fragmented
• Invented, Built and Created
• Heterogeneous and Dialoguing
It is therefore the emergence of fiction, of the stage where humanity is
building its history made of unexpected synergies. It is being said that culture
is in the open or, why not, that culture is itself that stage for fiction where
we also become the performers. It is not possible anymore to think isolated in
I think it is worthy to exemplify the cultural approach under the global context
of the city:
For example, in terms of health care, one can ask oneself if local health
practices could be fostered having in view a more efficient sanitary prevention,
while in the social area enquiries should be made about traditions in mutual
care that could be adapted to support structures for toxic-dependants or for
abandoned old people.
In terms of creation of employments, a visitation to old forms of craftsmanship
and its techniques could allow an evaluation of how these traditional
expressions could be transported to necessities of the present, becoming added
It is through the placement of the cultural resources at the center of
priorities that can synergetic and interactive relationships between these
resources and any other type of politic, be it of housing, health, educational,
social, touristic, urban planning and even cultural policy itself.
THE CASE OF MACAU
After having approached some concepts about the Creative City, it is worthy to
briefly touch on the history of Macau.
The concept of creativity applied to Macau is based ab initio in the way how, at
the margin of the Middle Kingdom, a city-state was created which consolidated
itself around a collective government that transformed the early city in the
first democratic republic of the Far-East, a situation that, under the historic
light of this region, was absolutely unheard of, therefore, creative.
Therefore, if the political outlines constitute a pragmatic and creative
transposition e usage of the Greek Latin concept of City-State – a result of a
need that enhanced ingenuity – to a geography where Confucianism and Buddhism
are omni-present, therefore fostering the emergence of another facet of
Macau was, for a long time the first and most important European outpost in the
Far-East. The vehicle that translated the interests of two countries that did
not have diplomatic relationships: China and Japan.
Creativity found a pacific way to mediate or, better saying, intermediate
between the sale of Chinese silk and its offer to Japan’s Nagasaki port, and the
exchange for silver bullion that would transform the small city of Macau in the
richest Outpost in the world.
The Future of the Past or
The unique context of Macau, ancient characteristic that today still defines
the city as the exception and not the rule, roots itself in its status of
pragmatic convenience that allowed the conjugation of two worlds.
The new reality of Macau is a peaceful process of emancipation achieved with
substantive maturity, in which memories continue to coexist with the
construction of the future.
Of this inevitable verification, it is important to extrapolate a concept that I
have been supporting for more than two decades, bearing in mind that part of
Macau’s population is in transit:
The consolidation of a referential matrix that can agglutinate the different
communities, in a process of full opening to the Other, both in what it is
similar as well as in what is distinguishable.
It is in the weave of affections that Citizenship – while an identitary
reference as well – can be consolidated in its plenitude, allowing then the full
usage of the cultural approach in the Creative City.
Citizenship topic is very dear to me by what it implicitly carries of
compromise, and because Macau, is an integral part of the “Second System” so
wisely drafted and implemented by Deng Xiao Ping, as an act of creative policies
destined, as it is known, to generate the progressive transformation of the
inner country through the capillarity effect resulting of the creation of
special economic and administrative regions, all located by the coastline, as
fundamental instruments of evolution.
The urban figurine of Macau change drastically since its creation. However, the
essence of the City-State remained unchanged, independently of its political
In 1978 I had the opportunity to write that Macau possessed the ideal dimension
to be a par excellence laboratory, a city of experimentation, a statement that
carried implicitly the understanding that, for experimentation to exist, it
would be necessary to have exchange.
Today, more than two decades later, I feel and foresee how important is the
return to this topic, in a moment when the city is governed by its own people,
and where its plenitude has to be translated in the equalitarian integration of
all communities in presence. The more important this is to exist since there has
been the grandeur not to wipe out history or deny it, this evidences what is
inevitably happening in the entire world:
the ever more proliferation of multi-ethnic cities to which the Portuguese,
Chinese and Macanese diasporas, each in its possible proportions, have given a
However, I would be quite unfair if I did not recognized the creative vitality
and pragmatism of the population of this very unique city.
For those who know Macau, it will be easy to verify that areas of commerce are
already consolidated by specimen, as in the case of antiques in the Rua de Santo
António next to the St. Paul’s ruins, or the intense enjoyment of the population
of all leisure areas, squares and gardens.
Much of the heritage has been recovered, highlighting the usage of the Rua das
Felicidades, while there could have been an occupation more in accordance to its
own past history as an exclusive place for food and leisure.
Rua das Felicidades (Happiness
New leisure places were initiated by imaginative people and to these places,
others of similar nature joined, by the river. It is important to recognize the
role of the Macau Municipality in the hosting of the Jazz Club, while the
Islands Municipality has encouraged leisure places as well as ensuring Coloane
Island as an ecological reserve and leisure destination par excellence.
Pavillion and bridge of Lou Lim Ieok Garden
The Lou Lim Iok garden, a unique sample of a
Chinese traditional garden is the stage for amateurs of Chinese Opera that daily
gather to sing under the shades of its abundant vegetation.
By this very brief sampling, one can see that Macau does not only exist in its
diverse leisure and cultural dimensions whose diversity must be fostered, but
the synergies are instinctively perceived by the people, which ensures a more
the promising terrain.
The benefits of Macau’s dimension
Today, the physical smallness of a city is not a barrier to its development.
Very much in the contrary, it potentiate the rapid creation of an organizational
network or, if you will, of a system.
Factually we should see the following:
- 150 Enterprises respond to 50 percent of the Market of all Companies quoted
globally in Stock Exchanges, in a value corresponding to 31 trillion USD.
- Of these 150 Companies, 49 percent were registered only in the last five
It is in this context that physical dimension lost its significance.
From the generalization of the Creative City to the particularization of
Macau, I will say that a substantive part of the economic development of Macau
should undergo a complement of what is the evolution of the “First System” in
Macau has all the ingredients and the optimal dimension to become the place for
an Encounter of Ideas, a great Center of Creativity whose proposal, in
specific terms, I presented in 1995, only to verify that in the year 2000
Bennetton launched its Factory of Ideas, therefore reinforcing my convictions.
The essence of mediation constitutes an added creative value if we consider
that, integrated in the second system of China, it has also an enormous opening
to the world, while on the other side it touches the first system. In other
words, it has all the advantages to become the stage of pure creativity and
Fundamentally, cities will need to interpret its destinies and the way how they
will unleash the creative forces within it. The capacity of a city to recognize,
liberate, feed, strengthen and maintain its creativity will be determining for
its destiny in a competitive regional and global scenario.
The Centre of Creativity that I mentioned before, would be the important
instrument of analysis of data, ideas and information, of specific creativity,
of identification of added values, of circulation of knowledge, formulation of
strategies, considering the privileged position of Macau while as a hinge
between two markets: the world’s biggest market and the rest of the world.
I have asked myself often: why has not this dimension and geography been
potentiated earlier for added value?
There are many that, out of context, try to emulate productions that in Macau
are genuine, or at least have the legitimacy for it, as a result of cultural
hybridation and the mediation vocation of that added value that is multi-culture
applied to creativity.
Macau possesses numerous added values that are squandered due to the fact that
it has no methodology capable of detecting creative interpreters in an organized
manner and potentiate these authors and therefore potentiate the city in a
The future is not static. It is imperative to equip the city of other
instruments that will allow virtual mediation. I am very specifically speaking
of electronic commerce, and its transaction instruments such as merchant’s
accounts. And in the implementation of the communication network between
services, institutions and public, anticipating the model of the future.
It is not unusual to happen that the emergence of a technological instrument can
ignite a revolution, especially if we consider that 40% of retail in the world
is done electronically.
To end what I have to say I concerning eventual skepticism that may exist, I
will quote Niccolo Machiavelli:
“Those who oppose to change by the lost of benefits that may arise from it, will
generally be the first ones to enjoy the benefits coming from the consolidation
of the new order that they opposed”.
The exercise of politics in its most profound sense, combined with the concept
of active citizenship, horizontal and dialoguing, is the most noble cause that a
man can aspire, because a Creative City is one that understands and integrates
itself in the Harmony of the Universe, where each person, each citizen has an
I will therefore quote Confucius:
We can understand all this, but if we do not support it with humanity, it
will leak between our fingers.
We may understand and support with humanity, but if we do not govern with truth,
do not expect gratitude from the people.
We may understand, support with humanity, govern with truth, but if we do not
put in practice with all our effort, none of the effort will be worth.