The new Central Library will be built on the land plot of the former Hotel Estoril at Tap Seac Square, returning to its original chosen location after a public consultation process held by the government back in 2009, the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) announced yesterday during a press conference.
According to the president of the IC, Mok Ian Ian, the return to the old location was a decision made by the new administration, taking into account the feasibility of the location and its accessibility, the ease of construction, and the price of the project which, according to Mok, will stand at just around 500 million patacas, almost 45% less than what the government had last forecasted as the cost of the construction at the Old Court Building in central Macau (MOP900 million).
Another of the advantages in favor of this location, according to Mok, is the fact that there is more consensus among the population.
“The government has been taking into account the different opinions of the public regarding the selected location of the new Central Library, some of which expressed interest in reassessing the feasibility of building it on the land plot of the former Hotel Estoril. After analysis and evaluation, it was found that the construction of the new Central Library in the land plot of the former Hotel Estoril is more rational and effective,” Mok said.
“After a comprehensive analysis, the land plot of the former Hotel Estoril for building the new Central Library may attain a gross construction area of more than 10,000 square meters. In technical architectural terms, the construction will [also] be less difficult and will have a relatively low construction cost.”
For the IC, locating the library at Tap Seac Square also renders it a more iconic cultural building, as the location already includes several cultural facilities, including the current Central Library, and hosts many civic activities.
The location also adds several advantages in terms of proximity to residential areas, is better served by public transport, and has several schools in the surroundings, vice president of the IC, Leong Wai Man, also added.
For the new library project, the IC is now evaluating a total of four design proposals submitted by renowned and experienced international architecture and design companies, from which the government expects to pick the final design of the new Central Library.
“Four internationally renowned architectural design teams from the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, and Switzerland, were invited, from an initial shortlist of 15, to submit proposals of a conceptual design according to the requirements of having an iconic exterior design, preserving the existing mosaics, including parking space, focusing on the interactive relationship with the Square and making full use of the landscape of the Estoril swimming pool,” the vice president noted in her presentation. “The proposals provide a scientific and more specific reference basis for the selection of the location of the new Central Library.”
To help the government decide upon the best solution, the IC is also calling for the opinions of the public, which will be included in a full review to be done by the government “with the help of specialists.”
Questioned by the media as to when it would be possible to open the new Central Library to the public, Mok said that the construction time would take between one and two years, and that it is expected that the facility could open as early as 2024.
Also questioned on the costs of the new library, taking into account the abandonment of the former projects at the Old Court Building and the Youth Centre project designed to occupy the land plot of Hotel Estoril, the government may save as much as 2 billion patacas in total.
“Although it is still too early to address the budget, as we did not decide yet which project will be built, we can advance that we expect to spend around 500 million patacas on the new project, which is significantly less than the previous one,” Mok said. However, Leong added that this is, for the time being, only a reference, as the design proposals requested by the government do not include an accurate cost of the project.
Questioned about the future of the Youth Center project, Leong said that although the idea would be dropped, several of the spaces and facilities planned for the center are still included in the plans of the new Central Library, such as the parking lot, the reading rooms and several multifunctional areas.
“The big difference will probably be that of the Macao Conservatory, which will not move to the new Central Library venue and for which we need to find another relocation solution,” Leong said.
When questioned about the future of the current building where the Central Library operates, the IC official added that it would be dedicated to the Macau Historical Archives where there will be a section dedicated to historical documents in consultation with researchers and scholars undergoing studies on Macau’s history.