macau cultural bridge


Macau Cultural Bridge is a speculative design proposal that aims to reposition the city of Macau, also known as the “Las Vegas of Asia”, as the future Capital of Culture. In collaboration with architectural and urban planning students from Hong Kong, we proposed additional features for the city’s future dam design and transform the dam into a cultural bridge. By reimaging the future traveling experience through the bridge, this project hopes to provide a new perspective of addressing environmental, economic, and cultural challenges in Macau.



Youcong Li, School of Architecture, CUHK



Locating on the western side of the Republic of China, Macau used to be a colonized city governed by Portugal and was turned over to China in 1999. After centuries of cultural exchange and fusion, Macau has become a unique city with diverse ethnicities, cultures, and religions in the Asian-Pacific region. However, due to its heavy focus on the gambling industry, Macau is currently experiencing severe economic and development imbalance, especially in its upper and lower regions. The upper region, also known as the old town, is where historical architectures, markets, and residential areas are located. Whereas the lower region is occupied by the world’s largest casinos along with luxury hotels and shopping malls. According to statistics, around 70% of visitors visit Macau for gambling, and only 30% are there to sightsee. The old town slowly lost its cultural advantage as an increasing number of visitors choose casinos and the lower area of Macau as their travel destinations. 

The Macau government proposed to build a dam besides its historical area to prevent typhoon and flooding. We asked what if the dam gets extended to a bridge that connects the historical area and nearby cities?  Can this connecting point transform the future traveling experience and direct more travelers to explore the cultural heritage in Macau?


Bridge and public market design 

In order to attract more people to visit the historical area, we think it is important to let people experience the highlights of Macau’s diverse culture before entering Macau. Below the bridge, there will be a public market featuring local craft-makers, artists, designers, and peddler selling traditional local goods. Once people experience the local culture while crossing the bridge, they can either choose to visit the historical old town of Macau to experience its cultures more in depth, or travel to the lower part of Macau for gambling experience. 


Policy and Experience Design

We also propose a series of policy changes around this design proposal to create a smoother and more convenient travel experience. Since Macau and mainland China have different legal, administrative, and judicial systems, all visitors and local Macau residents have to use a passport to enter and exit Macau. We suggest there will be three different types of bridge passes, which include business, resident, and traveler passes, that allow residents and visitors to easily access the bridge multiple times without carrying their passports. 


We came up with a series of local cultural events that can be potentially held on the Macau Cultural Bridge to attract domestic and international travelers.