Casinos Consume Public Spaces

Urban planning practices and scenarios for Macao development

A boom in construction and urban development is produced by the gaming liberalization, but the government urban planning department was not prepared for this, causing the planning full of flaws, from which the whole city suffered.


The NAPE area, mainly for residential areas.
The urban park is now occupied by Sand Casino.
Green areas have being eaten up by casinos.

Urban planning practices and scenarios for Macao development

1999 plan of COTAI.
The core of the plan is residential and social facilities.
The plan after 2002 is mainly casinos and hotels.

The NAPE (New reclaimed areas in Outer Harbor and Nam Wan Bay) area and COTAI (land reclamation between Coloane and Taipa Islands) area were designated with the purpose of providing an organized and balanced way to integrate residential areas with social and public facilities with green areas and parks (Vizeu& Wan, 2008). This real estate development was to liberate the old part of the city and organic urban fabric. But the law of NAPE was violated. To cope with the rapid tourism development, there was an urgent need for hotels and casinos. These iconic towers were built in century old narrow streets. The development of the casino clusters consumed up spaces for schools, universities, gardens and parks (Vizeu& Wan, 2007). The NAPE plan was cancelled and the priority of the land is given for gaming and hotel industries, resulting in that many community institutions such as the historical Legislative Council and the Supreme Court was removed to allow Casino and Hotel developments. Moreover, COTAI plan, the plan for residential and social facilities, was converted into the COTAI strip which is mainly for casinos and hotels.

Urban planning practices and scenarios for Macao development

the 1999 COTAI plan on the left , and 2006 COTAI plan on the right

The skyrocketed expansion of casinos and hotels ruined the original urban planning of the integration of the old Macau city with more residential and social areas. It is absurd to remove social facilities so as to give way for commercial development. There is less connection between the newly reclaimed area and the old city with the absence of well-thought plans and executions.





  1. “Urban planning practices and scenarios for Macau development” 2007, Francisco Vizeu Pinheriro and Penny Wan, 12th Real Estate Society Annual Conference. 
  2. “Transformations of the Urban Planning Practices in the Gaming City of Macao”, 2008, Penny Y.K. Wan and Francisco Vizeu Pinheiro,3rd International Conference on “Public Management in 21st Century

3 Comments on “Casinos Consume Public Spaces

  1. The idea of how casinos eat up the original planned areas of greenery and public services is quite intriguing and new to me. In the post, you seem to talk more about the process and facts and maybe there could be more evaluation in other posts. For example, what is the social/economical/political ideology behind that drives such priority given to tourism and commercial activities despite the need for civic services and housing? What is the response of the locals and if they have objection, what is the government’s reaction to it? Also, identifying and analyzing some key figures that were involved in the decision-making process of such planning might be helpful.

  2. One last thing — regarding the visuals, I think it would be easier to read the contrast if you could just make simple highlight on the areas that were eaten up in the maps. It’s hard to make cross-reference right now for a reader who is not familiar with the planning, since the images are presented in very different format partly due to their different sources.

  3. Great observations, Zhixin. In fact, this thesis may be that the planning guidelines in the new casino district made no requirements for public amenities, and the authority to produce public amenities were given to the casino developers. If this speculation is to be validated, you would need to pull out more details from the planning guidelines from the Macau government. Of course the developers are well aware of the need to produce spaces for gathering and repose for the gamblers and visitors, but they are pursuing it strictly for profit. The historical images are wonderful to see, but their sources need to be cited. In addition, avoid repeating the same image in the historical documents section, unless you are prepared to elaborate on the document with a short paragraph to articulate its relevance to the research.

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