By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The Barra area should be renewed primarily based on the principles of conservation and preservation rather than demolition and reconstruction, a recent survey of residents has suggested.
The Institute for Sustainable Development of the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) was commissioned by the Advisory Committee for Old Neighbourhood Renewal between October 6 and November 21, 2010 to gather the opinions of residents and shop owners in Barra covering the Lilau Square and around the A-Ma Temple, about how the area should be beautified and revitalised.
Among the 1,323 residential units and shops, 983 valid responses were collected. A majority of the respondents were Macau permanent residents and owners of the apartments or shops.
According to the findings released at a press conference yesterday, residents and shops were more aware of old neighbourhood renewal than those in the area of Ha Van, where a similar survey was conducted in 2009.
Assistant professor of the Faculty of Management and Administration of MUST, Sheng Ni, said around 60 to 70 percent of the respondents believed that the most suitable redevelopment models for Barra will be “conservation and preservation”, “renovation and restoration”, as well as “beautification of streetscapes”.
In addition, less than 40 percent of the residents and shops supported renewing Barra through building demolition and reconstruction.
Sheng explained that since Barra is within the Historic Centre of Macau, residents do not tend to see major demolition work going on in the area, so that the “characteristics and feel of the community” can be retained.
It has also been found that 90 percent of the respondents agreed that Barra has “distinguishing or historical architectures”, including the A-Ma Temple, Lilau Square, Mandarin’s House, Maritime Administration headquarters and the Maritime Museum.
Hence, the research team urged the Government to pay attention to the protection of these buildings as well as the preservation of Barra’s unique features when making over the neighbourhood.
On the other hand, about 44 percent of the respondents said they were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the current traffic conditions of Barra, but they were happy with the environmental and greening work in the area.
However, the respondents also demanded increased public facilities in particularly car parks, recreational and leisure facilities and health facilities.
In addition, although up to 90 percent of the residents and shops said they were willing to repair the aging public areas of their buildings, the research team suggested the Government continue to reinforce the promotional work of building maintenance in Macau.
Furthermore, Sheng said the Government has to provide different social support to cater to the needs of different people in the area.
Among the respondents, 26 percent had no income or were financially supported by their children or the Social Security Fund, 16 percent were retired, 11 percent were housewives, 7 percent had family members who were physically or mentally disabled, and 5 percent were jobless.
Chief of the urban planning department of the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau, Lao Iong, said the survey findings have provided the Government with a solid public opinion foundation for either the old neighbourhood renewal or city planning projects in the future.
He said more investigations of this kind will be carried out in other old neighbourhoods but not in this year because of the population census in August.