According to Landry’s city categorisation system—City 1.0, City 2.0, and City 3.0—he deems Macao a “spectacularised city 2.0”, where, among other traits, architecture and design are mainly conceived for spectacular effect. And like other 2.0 cities, he sees Macao as needing to improve connectivity in general and to further a community‑driven mind‑set. At a lecture he gave at Macao Science Centre entitled “Macao: A Culture of Ambition and Creativity as Catalysts for a Sustainable City,” Landry started by asking the audience to first envision the kind of city they want to live in. In order to successfully execute any plan, before all else, “It’s necessary to choose the model you want to follow,” he clarified. While some would like to live in a shiny metropolis, others prefer smaller, calmer cities or one that is more tech‑friendly and environmentally‑conscious. Urban planning is about defining how to achieve a specific goal; it does not define what that goal ought to be. Regardless of personal preference, everyone can agree on one thing: Macao’s ambition. “Macao has been ambitious creating casinos, universities and metros, but is this what you want?” Landry wonders. Using contrasting cities Dubai and Buenos Aires as examples, the urban planner highlights the need to have a clear vision. In his experience, people want human scale architecture, a sense of place, affordable housing, and to feel that their city is “a city for all” growing with everybody’s help and connectivity. “What makes a great city, in my opinion, is an interweaving [of disciplines and areas of knowledge].”
HOW GOING CORPORATE WOULD HELP MACAO THRIVE
Landry believes that for a city to grow, there has to be greater economic investment as well as increased development with regards to societal well‑being, although the two cannot both grow concurrently at the same rate. The urban specialist urges casino operators to implement better corporate social responsibility (CSR) plans and put their enormous gaming revenues, which far exceed that of Las Vegas, to good use by supporting Macao’s social and cultural development. He also suggests employing more local companies and start‑ups in their supply chains. “There’s a vast set of skills involving what the casino operators do which NOVEMBER 2016
has to do with creative economy.” When asked how one might inspire such big companies to action, Landry explains that external pressure is often effective, starting with citizen–led discourse. Graphic designer and founder of Macao Creations, Wilson Lam, agrees that big, established companies ought to mentor and support smaller ones for the greater good of the city’s future. “Macao has its unique gambling hub going on and that’s all good and well but we should be using it as a stepping stone for the next city version.��� Macao Creations is a branding and product design, sales, and manufacturing company based in the region. In addition to their own products, the company often showcases the work of local artists.
BUILDING A CITY, NOT JUST A DESTINATION
Creating a destination, Landry argues, is different from creating a city. Destinations are a short‑term stay concept, whereas a city is meant to be sustainably liveable. He cautions against a collective apathy combined with a lack of creative vision, which would cripple progressive urban development. Within the urban planning community, there is growing concern that the ratio of spectators to makers is too high, that action is making way more and more for passivity. Landry fears that “people don’t acknowledge the resources Macao has”, but is encouraged by the region’s ability to transform when the proper resources are utilised, pointing to the St. Lazarus neighbourhood, which has been attracting more visitors following its revival. What if a city’s population could actively participate in its evolution, bringing imagination to life and contributing to a safer, cleaner, and more liveable environment? This might sound utopian, but it is in fact a reality for many cities, Macao included. BABEL, a local non‑profit, is doing precisely