he workshop focused on several general subjects such as the new ways of planning cities, but it also introduced some reflections about Macau. Paula Morais, one of the CPRG co-founders, is a Portuguese architect who has lived in Macau in the 90s. Interested in the historical culture of city, Morais spoke about the impact of the new challenges in a place with centuries of history.
“The city has a unique urban history that awarded a World Heritage status to its historical centre. At present Macau urgently needs to find a balance among its patterns of continuity and difference in the city design,” she said. “This presentation explores the 'imaginary city' and the 'real city' through its spatial history and narratives, and the crisis of how the city is being simultaneously erased and artificially forced to maintain its past as a mean of city branding and memory survival," she added.
Speaking to a local Portuguese language publication, Morais also said “the city needs to be recycled” because the charm that once captivated people who came here for only one or two years, and then ended up staying 20, is vanishing under the clout of an "uncontrolled urban development". She said that there's a lack of political vision and cultural consciousness, and that "people feel lost, they feel as if their spaces are being taken away, that Macau is being compressed and its memories erased".
The workshop also included talks by Michael Batty, professor of planning at the UCL, who explained how new technologies could be used and explored in city planning; Sue Batty, a doctorate in political science who shared her knowledge about the impact of casinos in urban regeneration; Richard Wei-Tse Wang, co-coordinator of the CPRG, who presented his studies about urban redevelopment, gentrification and the problems of social mix, based on fieldwork carried out in an inner-city neighbourhood in Shanghai during the summer of 2007 and 2008; and Yi Gong, a research assistant at the Bartlett School of Planning at the UCL, who presented her studies on prevention of child obesity by studying how children interacted with their environment and adapting it accordingly.
The China Planning Research Group started out as an inter-departmental initiative founded and coordinated by PhD students Paula Morais and Richard Wei-Tse Wang at the Bartlett School of Planning.