The Evolution of Block and Street Structure

The evolution of the block structure was in an organic growth and under gradual modern development as we can see from the figures throughout the 4 periods of time. From the map of 1834 (Figure 4), the blocks appeared in various shapes and sizes. There were longer strips blocks which were observable around the lower inner harbor. The map of 1889 shows that there were reclamation and rehabilitation projects to the west with subdivision of blocks in contrast to other larger and irregular blocks. From the map of 1959, the blocks developed were having a clear hierarchy in sizes with different obvious straight contours intersecting each other. We can see from the map of 2010 that through having massive reclamation projects, the overall size of the Macau Peninsula had increased obviously, and the blocks located on the new reclaimed lands were relatively more regular and larger in appearance. In contrast to other blocks, they were more subdivided and more roads had been built.


Apart from the block system, the street system of the Macau Peninsula also evolved in a modern way and at the same time in a more efficient system. From the map of 1834 (in Figure 5), the organic and sinuous streets show the major spine of the street network under the irregular block structure. The map of 1889 shows that at the west of the inner harbor, a more intensive grid system had been developed with a more completed network formed. From the map of 1952, there were more streets in long straight lines, especially in the northern peninsula. The map of 2010 shows that orthogonal grids were introduced along with the new reclaimed lands.


Under the evolution of the block and street system, with several reclamation projects and extensions of city boundary, the block and street system has been characterized by adding new pieces with a variety each time onto the original structure. Despite of some small-scale redevelopment projects, the basic core spatial structure of the block and street was generally preserved. Yet with the additional pieces, Macau has evolved into a structure with various urban grids.




“The Morphological Evolution of Macau” By Chen Feng, Haofeng Wang, Xiaojun Rao. College of Architecture & Urban Planning, Shenzhen University, China

“Proceedings: Eighth International Space Syntax Symposium” Edited by M. Greene, J. Reyes and A. Castro. Santiago de Chile: PUC, 2012.

3 Comments on “The Evolution of Block and Street Structure

  1. It is compelling to see the evolution of the block and street structure of Macau, where it was in an organic growth pace and undergoing gradual modern development- as you have illustrated in the figures throughout the four periods of time (Which is a large period span of time). In general, as you have mentioned, despite some of the smaller scale redevelopment projects, the basic core spatial structure of the block and street was still generally preserved and yet with the additional pieces, the city has evolved into a structure with various urban grids. It would be nice to discover what the reasons and stories behind the back were that have caused these changes to happen- Were the various urban grids set out as the structure due to one of the strategies of Portuguese in the earliest stage of their colony? Was it to establish a clear and identifiable territory to show their political power over the Chinese?

  2. The narrative posts are more of historical documentations of the changes in the urban fabric. Why is the street pattern important to represent Macau? It would be important to focus on a specific period and events, which triggered a certain pattern, that you might want to explain the arguments behind such as the political, social and ideological considerations causing it to happen.

  3. As I have mentioned in the blog of “Background of Macau Urban Development”, the development of Macau is under 3 stages, the 4 maps are relatively describing different stages of the development. The map of 1834 is showing the early stage of the development of the Portuguese’s colonization. Therefore as shown in the map, the more developed districts were mainly under Portuguese territory. The map of 1889 shows at the beginning of stage 2 and it was the situation of the period at the year of the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration. And after the declaration, the citadel wall was destroyed and the north district started to be developed. As shown in the maps of 1889 and 1952, the plan was much developed and there were fewer territories and more connected spaces for the whole Macau.

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