Standardization of neighbourhood

Under the rapid development of casino industry in Macau which strengthened Macau’s global position as entertainment destination. The cityscape has drastically changed that creates negative impact to the life of local residence. One of the impact is the changing of urban environment in terms of streetscape. The second would be eating up of public space.

Despite the original plan in 1999 to develop Cotai as area that support residential population of 180,000 residents, hotels capacity has jumped significantly from 11,000 rooms to 40,000 instead of public housing. As designed in last years of the Portuguese administration as city expansion that cope with the growing tourism development, the Cotai sacrificed the old city fabric and public space like schools, fire stations, markets, and residential places for expansion of gaming industry. According to Klebanow, even if the population is rapidly increasing, there is no space available for school, social facilities and residence was removed from the 1999 plan. The latest planning of Macau only contemplates casinos and hotels, accompany by few high class residential complex, most of them inaccessible for local residents. It blocks the accessibility of the original city fabric as well as permeability for residents to travel from one zone to another. Besides, there are no hospitals, churches, and parks, which made the Cotai area not favor for living and Macao citizens are moving to a green landscape and better environment of neighboring Zhuhai.

As major urban developments, landscape and morphology have transformed with breeding a towering skyline, with buildings rising ever-higher and more fantastically ornamented, but also a city more congested and contradictorily continental, now partly unrecognizable to its residents. Other far-reaching and, arguably, more disruptive effects have been equally felt in the lives of ordinary people as Macau’s gambling-led development, while taking over the urban space, began to transform ‘non-casino’ spaces.

Consistently transformed to attend to the preferences of the casinos’ clientele, the old Macau streetront used to be grocery stores, tailor shops and restaurants offering different cuisines. After the invasion of the casino industry, shops and stores become homogeneous such as pawnshops and money exchange services. There is specific type of economy that sprawl indulges tourist patrons, which include Chinese restaurants, hotels, banks and jewelleries. For transportation industry, taxi driver prefer tourist customers against local customer to serve mainly the casino area. An obvious example would be the old casino district starting from Rua de Pequim to Avenida da Amizade, demonstrate the standardization of streetscape that created by the casino industry.

[Fig 1] Photo of old casino district starting from Rua de Pequim to Avenida da Amizade

The reliance of casino industry and the ever-growing tourist-favor urban environment has resulted in generalization and standardization of cityscape. It has sacrificed the public space that it used to have and be replaced by gated resort area owned by the powerful casino concessionaires. It lowers the livability of the Cotai area due to the lack of public amenities and proper urban planning


1. Andrew M. Klebanow, “Casinos and the City: A White Paper on the History of Casino Development in Cities, Past and Current Trends, and Recommendations for Future Development,” Global Market Advisors (2015), 4-6

2. Manfredini, Manfredo. and Yuen, Gloria. and Wu, Steven, 2013. Public Space and Consumption “Spatial Assemblages”: Exploring Macau’s Place of Spectacular Otherness. Proc. of International Conference on Planning and Design, Tainan, Taiwan.

3. Tieben H, 2009, “Urban image construction on Macau in the first decade after the ‘handover’, 1999–2008” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 38(1) 49–72

1 Comment on “Standardization of neighbourhood

  1. The impacts of Macau’s gambling-led development is well narrated in the post. It’s interesting to see how the casino industry development influence the ‘non-casino’ spaces. As a famous entertainment destination, the balance between casino industry and local living condition is quite important. The public space for local people is eaten up and the streetscape becomes standardized so as to cater for the tourists. The living condition for local people is neglected and becomes worse.

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