A city consisted of radically different urban fabric

Macau is consisted of 2 main areas – the Macau Peninsula at the north and the outlying islands region at the south while the region at the south can be further divided into 3 districts – Taipa, Cotai and Coloane.  All these 4 districts have different development history due to their own natural conditions, which lead to their various programmatic functions in the city and their future development trend.

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The main districts of Macau © 2009, Macau Geography


Macau Peninsula is the urban area of Macau, which contains most of the political, economic facilities.  According to survey statistics, the area of Macau Peninsula took up only 32.5% of whole Macau but 86.4% of Macau population lived in Macau Peninsula.  Since there is a large amount of churches in Peninsula, it can be divided into 5 sub-districts according to the names of the churches.  The northern part is Our Lady of Fatima’s Parish, which contains the largest portion of population in Peninsula.  It was farmland in the past and developed into an industrial, commercial and residential district along with the boost of Macau economy.  The western part is St. Anthony’s Parish in which the population is the highest, reaching 100 thousands people per meter square.  The central part is St. Lazarus’s Parish, which is the smallest part of Peninsula.  The south-eastern part is Cathedral’s Parish.  Most the land is obtained from reclamation.  Although the area of this part is the largest, the population density is the lowest as this is mainly commercial district.  The southern part is St. Lawrence’s Parish which contains varying areas such as tourists spots, traditional commercial district and commercial residential hybrid district.

The administrative division of Macau © 1993, The Transformation of Macau


Taipa was originally two isolated islands until reclamation project in 20th century last decade linked these two islands together.  In the past, ferry was the only transportation between Taipa and urban area.  Because of the inconvenient connection, only a small town and several villages existed in Taipa.  In 1972, the agricultural land occupied 40.9% of the utilized land area of Taipa.  Till 1974, bridge construction started and provided an essential factor for the later rapid development of Taipa.  Since large amounts of flat lands were available, tremendous residential districts and hybrid district were developed.  In 1970, there were only 5352 people living on Taipa but this number increased to 63293 in 2006.  In recent years, different kinds of infrastructure were built and the conditions required to be a satellite city can all be found in Taipa.

area reclamed
The area of land obtained from reclamation  © 2009, Macau Geography


The natural conditions of Coloane are not as good as Taipa so the development speed is much slower.  The landscape is mainly gentle hill so there are very few flat lands for urban growth.  Till now, there are just a few small towns and villages.  The increase in population over the past few years is much smaller than Taipa.  Despite the slow urban development, the beaches and mountains provided the conditions for Coloane to develop into a holiday tourist spot.  Coloane and Taipa were two isolated islands as well but a large reclamation project changed this and created a large piece of flat land between these two islands.  The newly reclaimed land, Cotai has an area up to 5.2 square meteres, which is nearly another Macau Peninsula.  The reclamation projects and urban planning for Cotai are now ongoing at the same time.

From their urban growth footprint in the past, we can see that these two districts are physically linked together but culturally and socially very different.  The Macau Peninsula is the main urban area of Macau and the important political and economic facilities are all there.  In the meantime, the southern peninsula has more residential areas and tends to develop into a different kind of urban pattern.




  1. Wong, Z. S. (2009). Macau Geography. Joint Publishing + Macau Foundation
  2. Porter, J. (1993). The Transformation of Macau. Pacific Affairs. Vol. 66, No. 1 (Spring, 1993), pp. 7-20
  3. Xiao, J. Y. (2008). Growth and degradation in the Orient’s ‘Las Vegas’: issues of environment in Macau. International Journal of Environmental Studies. Vol.65, Issue 5, 667-683
  4. Hilary, D. C. (2009). Emerging Issues for Cultural Tourism in Macau. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. Vol. 38, No. 1.
  5. Wan, Y.K. (2012). The social, economic and environmental impacts of casino gaming in Macao: the community leader perspective. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. Vol. 20, No. 5, 737 – 755

2 Comments on “A city consisted of radically different urban fabric

  1. There are some useful sources. However, if you were to cite mostly from one source in each entry, it is better represented in the bibliography section, where you extract the main thesis of the author, or delve into a single point. The “narratives” can better serve an intersection of a number of sources towards the formulation of an argument. There would essentially be a single narrative in each entry. For example, this entry on radically different fabric ought to pull together multiple sources of contesting “centers” or multiple political goals. The impact of casinos on urban space, and the importance of heritage and tourism from the other entries should add to this episode. Lastly, it will be great to cite the source of each image.

    • Thank you for your advice, Koon. I’m sorry that I only put the most important reference here before because of rushing before deadline. I have now put all the references I have looked at and cite the sources for the images as well. However, for the content, I was trying to show the different development processes of the 4 zones of Macau to derive my viewpoint that the future planning of these 4 zones would continue in divergence. For example, the planning of Macau Peninsula would be a contest between the casinos and the historic center while the planning of Coloane would be the contest between traditional villages and new holiday estates. The natural conditions of each zone actually brings up different contests for the urban growth respectively and that’s why I described Macau as a city of radically different urban fabrics.

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