I am stretched out on the couch compulsively zapping through TV channels. I pause to watch CNN for a moment - a sniper kills dozens of people at a Mc Donald’s in Pasadena. On GloboNews, Rio gangs throw grenades at a public school, murders on SBT, wars on BBC, kidnappings on RAI, rapes on Record. Finally it is 10.27 on the night of March 27th in the year 2000. The telephone rings. It is Dr. Isaias Raw, the scientist. He invites me to design a small museum. A microbiology museum.
“ We have no money, a radical economy, expenditure containment, limited funds, economic restrictions, etc...” (a whole story we architects of the third world know like no other).
I already feel sad and happy. Dr. Raw continues speaking:
“ Maybe we could get funds from FAPESP to construct a high-level laboratory so the children will be able to do experiments under professional conditions” (this is sensational and already entices me.)
Some days later I go with my team to check out the site at the Butantan Institute. I am hoping that it is one of those old buildings. Not a bit of it. It is a block of a building, built in the 70`s and falling apart. Total discouragement. A few moments later though, I begin to like it. There’s a lot of greenery surrounding the area. It is somewhat removed from the other blocks. A small volume with reasonable proportions. Maybe if we covered it in wood, we would have some great results. We also thought of a patio in the middle of the thicket. It could be nice.
With the passing of time, other ideas pop up in my mind.
- A glass panel with rear-lighting exhibiting the Xylella genetic code (an important Brazilian scientific achievement) could have a very interesting aesthetic effect.
- A large table of steel, glass and wood using models to tell the history of microbiology.
- A small auditorium with colored chairs.
On February 21, 2002, the grand inauguration party. A band plays French music. Ms. Hisako and Dr. Isaias call me over and insist on a photo unveiling the commemorative plaque. The politicians are moving about in front of me and I am blocked out of the photograph. They call me again, and once again I am pushed out of view. The same scene is repeated twice more. It feels like a Groucho Marx film. Ms. Hisako and Dr. Raw give up. I am definitely out of the picture.