Macao, officially known as the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, bears witness to a lengthy confluence of cultural interchange of East and West, whose historic centre was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage property in 2005. The city presents as a kind of trilogy: a historical centre with relatively low density; extensive monofunctional areas with modern casinos and shopping centres; and an older, highly-densified multifunctional city.
Faced with large-scale gentrification in the city’s historic centre, local commerce has struggled to compete with rising rental costs. Street vendors and shopkeepers have been displaced and traditional commerce has relocated to other areas of the city. Products for sale are catered to a new target client: the thousands of tourists who visit the city on a daily basis. A plethora of jewellers, casinos, designer clothes shops and beauty products are now commonplace – meeting the demands of visitors coming from the Chinese continent. The resident population avoids the historical centre, which is increasingly becoming the backdrop for one-day visits and the occasional photograph on the way to a local casino. Gentrification processes have shifted the relationship between culture and economics in the city, progressively driving out local inhabitants from the historic centre by tailoring the uses of urban spaces to market demands.
Source: Coimbra University, report for Study Area 6