Abel Maciel lectures in design at the AA and the Bartlett and is currently working on a research project to create intelligent virtual reality tools to assist architectural concept design. He also advises designers on how to manage design information in construction projects.
How does working in London compare to working in Brazil?
Practising architecture in London is more formalized than in Brazil. People back home have a romantic view of the profession. It’s a creative endeavour and conservation is important, and, although this is a good thing, there are things we could learn from British practice.
What Brazilian things do you do in London?
Occasionally I go to Brazilian bars. I bring coffee over from Brazil and I drink açai berry smoothies in the local organic juice bar and I have all the spices my mother uses here in my kitchen in London. Sometimes I gather with friends for a ’feijoada’, which feels very Brazilian. I also keep a book in hand from a Brazilian writer; I love Jorge Amado and Raquel de Queiros.
What would a perfect night out in Brazil involve?
I would have churrasco for lunch, and would need a power nap around 5:00pm, ideally on Ipanema or Leblon beaches. The evening would be spent with friends, either dancing at a samba school, clubbing, or hitting the bars in Lapa or Gavea Baixa in Rio. Many Brazilians, myself included, like to escape for long weekends. Praia da Pipa and Fernando de Noronha island are my favourite places.
Are there any Brazilian expressions that would translate well in to English?
’Mente vazia é oficina do diabo’ or ’an empty mind is the devil’s workshop’.
How does being Brazilian shape your aesthetic?
Being Brazilian is synonymous with being social, emotional and intuitive. We like change and improvisation. Any Brazilian would agree that we have a special interest in relationships; we like to get to know people and understand the intricacy and complexities of someone’s personality. Also, growing up with exuberant fauna and flora, and a range of architectural styles, from baroque to modernist, has given me a good palette from which to work.