Mário Quintana Cultural Center
There is nothing better than the public’s approval to attest the success of a piece of work. This is true for books, songs, plays or films, and in this case it also applies to the warm reception given to this new space created for cultural activities: the Mário Quintana Cultural Center.
It is a singular building in Porto Alegre, located in the historic city center, an area that, like so many other historic centers of Brazilian capitals, has lost its weekend nightlife. The project was conceived by architect Theo Wiederspahn (who achieved recognition beyond Rio Grande do Sul), and its design is unusual: two slabs (considered tall for the time they were built), establishing a public way where striking transparent causeways cross the sky. It is quite peculiar, like a replication of the nineteenth-century elevated crossing of Diamantina or a futuristic vision of the city in the 20th century, with high multi-level skywalks connecting skyscrapers.
Wandering by the historic center of Porto Alegre without knowing the neighborhood may cause surprise. The martial loneliness and silence around the military area suddenly give place to movement and streets filled with parked cars around the old Magestic Hotel. The awkward quietness of the historic center is unsettled by young people and the permanent buzz of a place that is full of life and light. We can only hope that MQCC will maintain its vitality – that its sponsors will be willing to support and diversify the cultural agenda. The public has shown enough interest, and the place has proved to have more than enough qualities.
More surprising, however, is how the state authority has assumed the role of patron of the cultural space in the age of the official dismantling of culture and the panacea of laissez-faire. Two architects from the State Department of Culture developed a project and carried it out with a decision-making power that is unusual for civil servants – something similar, perhaps, to Luiz Nunes in Pernambuco or Affonso Eduardo Reidy in Rio de Janeiro, in a now forgotten past