Old district renewal a better option for Macau: expert

Friday, November 20, 2009
Issue 874, Page 3
Word count: 514
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Macau should focus more on old district renewal instead of relying too much on reclamation, a local urban planning expert said.

Jose Chui Sai Peng, chairman of the Macao Urban Planning Institute and a Macau and U.S. registered civil and structural engineer gave a lecture at the Polytechnic Institute yesterday afternoon.

The event was to introduce to the audience what urban planning meant and the relationship between urban planning and architectural design, and as such they would understand the function of urban planning and what role it was playing in a society, Chui told reporters ahead of the one-hour lecture.

Yet, he said that the most significant part of the talk was to provide people with the right to know.

“People usually hear things through word of mouth, even one normal thing could be turned into something very rare. So the key here is about information exchange,” he added.

It is of almost everyone’s knowledge that limited resources are one of the most prominent shortcomings in Macau, which made successful urban planning even more difficult in this place.

“So what are our options? To continue using the resources in the same way, start to economize or practice recycling? It is common nowadays that things are being used over and over again, and this exactly brought up the concept of old neighbourhood renewal,” Chui said.

“Some neighbourhoods were built long time ago, but due to social demand, what means or approaches can people use to better utilize the places?” he pointed out.

To Chui, who obtained a PhD in urban planning at China’s Tsinghua University, most of the time people wish to have a win-win outcome, yet in reality they have to make a choice and at times when they are gaining something they must be losing something as well.

“We can carry out an analysis on the technical level, but the ultimate policy of urban planning will be left for the people [and the government] to decide,” he said.

During the lecture, the urban planning expert highlighted the importance for Macau to shift its focus to old district renewal from land reclamation.

Chui said that Macau used to be made up of four separate “land parcels” – Taipa was originally divided into Taipa Grande (big) Hill and Taipa Pequena (small) Hill, in addition to Coloane on its own and the Macau peninsula.

However, with all the reclamation Taipa has already become one combined island and Taipa and Coloane are also being connected by the Cotai Strip.

Three official old neighbourhood renewal committees were set up in 2006, but Chui pointed out that the challenges in front of them were mainly the complexity in the ownership of old buildings, conflicts of interest as well as land constraints (where to settle the residents and shop owners when an old district is being renewed).

According to Chui, there are four common old district renewal approaches, respectively “complete reconstruction and redevelopment [the easiest yet gives the biggest impact], preservation and conservation [Casa da Cheang], restoration [St. Dominic’s Church at Senado Square] and also street beautification [Three Lamps area]”.

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