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Redesigning historic cities facing rapid tourism growth: The case of Macao’s World Heritage centre and San Ma Lou Avenue

Francisco Vizeu Pinheiro (Department of Architecture, Universidade de Sao Jose, Macau, China)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The historical city of Macao has recently become one of the world’s centres for tourism and gaming. But growing traffic congestion in its narrow and old road network, especially in the city’s historic centre, raises concerns about the city’s traffic pollution, environmental impacts and negative effects on residents’ and visitors’ health. The purpose of this study is to address the possibility of mitigating emerging environmental problems with urban design solutions.


A review and background of the city’s evolution, from a Mediterranean-style town in the sixteenth century to its present status as one of the highest population density cities in the world, is first undertaken. The paper then critiques the urban layout that conditions current traffic and pollution trends.


High levels of pollution of particulate matters are created by a mixture of circumstances related to tall buildings along narrow roads, especially in the historic centre’s San Ma Lou Avenue, that limit ventilation and trap pollution. Green solutions that are known to effectively mitigate this problem, as well as contribute to enhancing the area’s carrying capacity, are discussed.


The originality of this paper lies in its critique of the environmental impact of rapid and overwhelming tourism-oriented development on the quality of the urban environment. It advocates urban design solutions based on experiences from other global tourist cities that, if implemented, will not damage the historic centre’s built environment and will contribute to a more liveable city for residents and better experience for visitors.



Pinheiro, F.V. (2017), "Redesigning historic cities facing rapid tourism growth: The case of Macao’s World Heritage centre and San Ma Lou Avenue", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 274-288.



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