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Words: Jane Hall
Cultural economy : DOBRA architects
Parallel to the increasing occupation of public space, many institutions and the local government have begun to promote events in the city through an incentive scheme, in which big companies financially support cultural projects in place of paying some taxes. Despite this backing, often the projects manage to retain quite critical views, such as the latest event to take place in Praça da Liberdade, designed by the young architecture practice DOBRA (meaning 'fold'). Its project Museu do Instante proposed occupying the square with everyday objects and events that constituted an alternative type of cultural expression. Its intervention was a comment on the contemporary museum as a closed, privileged space: 'We wanted to show that spontaneous ways to occupy the streets are just as much "cultural" -- and perhaps more political -- as those that take place inside museums.'
DOBRA filled the square with activities aimed at uniting different points of view across the city to promote a new experience of the public realm, if only just for a day. These experiences, it believes, reinforce the idea that public space should be used as a place for leisure, alongside all the recent political activism, to achieve real urban improvements. In doing so, DOBRA fulfilled the brief to broaden the demographic of visitors to the museum while also expanding the purpose of the institution itself. It also collaborated on this project with other groups engaged in cultural projects across Belo Horizonte to make the project 'richer and and closer to what happens all over the city'.
As a result it brought together a new generation of architects who are seeking a more critical and purposeful attitude to the production of architecture, finding ways to do so through both conventional and atypical means.