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What we know and the uncertain context – Appeal to creativity

By Paulo Reis Silva, Senior Partner and Architect

We do not know when rest, leisure or tourism began, but we do know that this need to do something besides work has existed for almost always: “rested on the seventh day”[1]. This creation or invention as you may call it, has assumed several formats over the years. However we can perceive it today as an aspect that is part of our lives, included on our routines.

Without forgetting that there are many people who do not have access to this rest, I look at the quote I transcribed and I see a society – mainly the western one that I know – that has fully incorporated leisure and travelling in its lifestyle and has expanded and perfected it in so many ways.

It is so developed that nowadays the tourism activity represents a significant part of business made throughout the world, with over 10% of all of the world economic activity and estimated to be the 3rd sector that generates more employment.

We are experiencing a period of crisis, a crisis associated to an event that made it very intense and which we were not expecting. In fact, we are all restricted to a unique situation, all of us on the same boat.

In fairness, we know, perhaps, a lot about many things, but we always live in a state of constant fragility. Here lies the opportunity. We are architects, we design cities and spaces and we also design for rest, leisure and tourism.

I believe that in the current context, which I am going to refer as highly uncertain, we have the opportunity to rethink what is not right, to grow new ideas and create opportunities. In fact, this crisis experienced from an organic perspective, that is, as a living society, appeal that we value our assets, what we know how to do well, either as a country or people, or more specifically, as architects.

Many uncertainties have been experienced throughout time and many more will surely come. But in a great uncertainty experienced recently, the 9/11, we were face to face with the thought of not knowing whether the plane we boarded was going to explode or not. Today, we find all of the safety procedures implemented normal and we forget that this uncertainty only took one year and half to dissipate.

A solution to this COVID pandemic will arise and the uncertainty which we live with today will also disappear.

Tourism was one of the activities that suffered the most with this crisis, but is also an activity that keeps recreating itself, either by using the existing accommodation or by optimising new places. The existing spaces will be maintained, not only because they are valuable assets – even if they need to be upgraded – but mainly because the clients will come back if they enjoyed it.

In the last decade we have witnessed an exceptional increase in the quality of the tourism offer in Portugal, to which the architects have surely contributed. That is the work that we need to continue to do.

The IMF’S projections indicate that we may suffer a deep recession generated by the crisis we are experiencing, but that we will quickly recover from it. I see this as an excellent opportunity.

This crisis has put us between what we know and a highly changing context that we do not control. This situation demands architects to place all their creativity to the service of society and economic activities.

Creativity, because we will have to think the spaces for this new context, flexible and adaptable spaces, resilient to this type of event that has hit us.

Creativity, because we will need to exemplarily transform what exists by boosting the activity of tourism, leisure and rest.

Creativity, because we must focus and think on spaces in a way that the relationships between people are not abruptly interrupted again.

[1] The Book of Genesis 2,2

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