Mr Francesco Bandarin
World Heritage Centre
7, Place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP
Tel.: 33 (01) 45 68 18 71Fax: 33 (01) 45 68 55 70
ICOMOS International Secretariat
49-51, rue de la fédération
Tel: +33 (0)1 45 67 67 70Fax: +33 (0)1 45 66 06 22
Dr DU Xiaofan
National Programme Officer
Culture Heritage Conservation
UNESCO Office Beijing
Tel: +86-10-6532 5790 ext. 133Fax: +86-10-6532 4854
我們以其中最具爭議性的東望洋燈塔景觀為例作出說明，希望委員會能夠瞭解澳門歷史城區作為世界遺產所遇到的危機。東望洋燈塔(Guia Light house)位於東望洋山上(海拔91米)，為中國海岸第一座現代燈塔，其所在地理位置之座標值亦為澳門於世界地圖上之地理座標定位，建築為一圓柱形結構，總高15 米，塔頂設置巨型射燈，啟用於1865年，至今仍在使用。
以德國為例，科隆大教堂和德勒斯登易北河溪谷(Dresden Elbe Valley)先後登錄於《處於危險的世界遺產目錄》，其理由是周邊的開發。科隆大教堂對岸的高層大樓建設計畫，距離遺產一公里遠，而德勒斯登在城鎮的東南方約3公里的地方計畫建設一座橋，世遺委員會便將之列入《處於危險的世界遺產目錄》中。在此，我們懇請世遺委員會注意，正在興建中最接近燈塔的建築物與東望洋燈塔的距離只有200米，而建築物的高度幾乎與東望洋山體同高。(附件八：依2007年7月政府公佈的建築物高度作出的效果圖)
Urgent appeal: The Historic Centre of Macao is under serious threat - its World Heritage could be demaged
(Since the file of 58 pages annex is too big, we can only upload the official text here.)
We are a group of citizens, who are living in Macao Special Administration Region, China (Macao), a city with world heritage classified by UNESCO (Inscription ref : 1110)
We are from different professional sectors of society, including architects, city planners, historians, heritage protectors, teachers as well as journalists, etc. We would like to urge the UNESCO to concern Macao, which is a small city located at the southern coast of the People's Republic of China. The Historic Centre of Macao is facing a crisis, and its world heritage sites and buildings are under threat.
“The Historic Centre of Macao” is the product of over 400 years of cultural exchange between the western world and Chinese civilization. The architectural heritage, predominantly European in nature, stands in the midst of traditional Chinese architecture in the historic settlement, providing a unique contrast. “The Historic Centre of Macao” is widely regarded as the oldest, the most complete and consolidated array of European architectural legacy standing intact on Chinese territory. “The Historic Centre of Macao” meets the standards of the World Heritage in criteria II, III, IV and V. The World Heritage Committee, after in-depth inspection and evaluation, has inscribed “The Historic Monuments of Macao” on UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005. (Annex I: “The Historic Centre of Macao” and the world heritage “buffer zone”.)
2. Macao SAR government broke its promise regarding world heritage nomination to UNESCO
In the application process (through the Central Government), Macao SAR government pointed out that there were heritage sites with similar historical and architectural significance in other oriental cities, yet many of them had already submerged among new high-rise buildings. Integrated within a historically vibrant environment, the “Historic Centre of Macao” still had a clearly identifiable character, remaining a fertile ground for cultural exchanges. East and West had met and merged for over four centuries in an atmosphere marked by respect and tolerance, facilitating unique forms of cultural assimilation, from tangible traditions such as building techniques, to intangible aspects of life such as religions and social lifestyles.”
The Macao Government pledged to “keep the original atmosphere in the Historic Centre of Macao and its surrounding environment.
The Macao government has submitted its management plan for the world heritage to the UNESCO. The Macao government has pledged that to all government development plans and private development need to follow the UNESCO guidelines and local laws and bylaws (locally known as administrative regulations) to protect the “Historic Centre of Macao” and its surrounding environment. The Macao government has submitted a number of documents on the issue to UNESCO, and made promises to the global community regarding the protection of world heritage sites in Macao.
Macao has liberalized the gaming industry in an effort to develop the tourism and gaming industry into Macao’s the main economic activity since 2002. The Macao government has started to depend on the gaming industry’s development as its main economic policy. However, after to be accepted as a world heritage site by UNESCO, the government has hesitated to establish either a master city plan or any heritage-protecting plan to direct, manage, and control its urban development as well as to maintain and improve the environment of the heritage sites. So, it has made it easy for private developers to build more and more high-rise buildings. The Macao government gave in to the demands of the developer by avoiding the “Rule of the Outer Harbour Reclamation Plan” and “Nam Van Bay Renovation and detailed rule.” Therefore, many huge high-rise buildings can be built in those areas. A large number of high-rise buildings have been built or are being planned in areas affecting Macao’s world heritage sites. All this has violated the former promise of the Macao government.
3. Cultural Landscape under serious threat – The case of the Guia Lighthouse
We wish to bring one of the most controversial cases to the attention of the committee, so that the threat to the Historic Centre of Macao, a world heritage, is unveiled. The Guia Lighthouse, located on top of the Guia Hill (91 metres above sea level), is the first lighthouse along the Chinese coast. The latitude and longitude of the site is used to represent Macao’s position on the world map. It is a 15-metre high cylindrical structure, equipped with a huge spot light. The lighthouse has been serving Macao since its inauguration in 1865, and it is still functioning nowadays.
It is a crucial element of the Macao Historic Centre, built as a landmark for navigation. It has witnessed the Portuguese development in this small oriental city, and played an important role in the cultural exchange between the East and the West.
If we look at the landmark building from geography and navigation perspectives, the Guia Lighthouse is located at the commanding point high up on the Guia Hill, with an unsplittable bond to the ocean.
It forms a spacial structure of an oceanic culture, based on livelihood, navigation and trading. Historic sediment of hundreds of years created the unique architectural, artistic, cultural and historic values of the site.
If high-rise buildings are built surrounding this landmark, especially between the coast and the site, it will cut its visual link with the ocean. It will dry up the fountain of its historic context, ruin this spacial relation, and create a tragedy for the history of cultural exchange between the East and the West. Based on this very reason, the government had been strictly controlling the height of the buildings near the Guia Hill, even before the inscription of the Historic Centre. (Annex II: Original height control plan for buildings near the Guia Hill)
Yet to our surprise, the Macao Government excluded the piece of land south and southwest of the Guia Lighthouse from the buffer zone of the site, as she prepare for the documentation for the application in 2005. The government has suddenly granted rights to developers to build high-rise buildings up to 135 metres high, on land numbered 133 to 138, south of the lighthouse. (Annex III: Map of land numbered 133 to 138, and the potential blockage on landscape by the new buildings) (Annex IV: Comparison of buildings built according to the original height limit and the new height limit) (Annex V: Visualisation of the sites with new buildings mentioned on the Government Gazettes of August 2006)
Majority of residents and associations of Macao questioned the change of height limit, and opposed the government’s action to ruin cultural landscape and set a bad example. (Please visit the League of Guia Lighthouse Protectors for some reactions from the residents: http://guialighthouse.blogspot.com/, and refer to the Annex VI: news clippings about residents’ efforts in the protection for the Guia Lighthouse).
With the pressure from the residents, the government finally announced that the height of the new building would not exceed 90 metres on 18 July 2007. She also emphasized that those lands did not belong to the protection zone of world heritage, and they did not act as buffer zone. However, we believe that a world heritage building shall not a standalone object out of its environment and context. It exists and interacts with its environment and contexts, and together they form a complete complex. Alteration of world heritage landscape, because of urban development, shall undertake serious, well-organised, and scientific planning procedures. Obviously, mushrooming of high-rise buildings there will damage the unity and harmony of the building and its context, thus post a threat to the world heritage in Macao.
It is understood that urban development generates new buildings. Yet world history has long proven, again and again, that high-rise buildings without order, control and holistic urban plan will destroy the living environment. Nevertheless we should not forget that such damage is destructive and irreversible for the value of world heritage. It will benefit only a few developers, but harm the entire residents and leave a demerit on the history of mankind. Any responsible government shall be responsible for history, but not acting according to her uncontrolled free will. As residents who have grown up and lived in Macao, we are frustrated to be blocked from any detail information about plans for those lands by the government and the developers. The plan has turned into a money game by the developers, which is unacceptable in a civilised world.
4. Request for attention from the World Heritage Committee to the fact that world heritage in Macao is under serious threats
As we are writing the letter, the construction of a high-rise building below the Guia Hill is accelerating. Ultimately, it will be an 88-metre building. (Annex VII: Update photo of the construction). There must be a complete visual destruction to the landscape of this world heritage.
According to point 4 of article 11 of Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the Committee shall establish, keep up to date and publish, whenever circumstances shall so require, under the title of "list of World Heritage in Danger", a list of the property appearing in the World Heritage List for the conservation of which major operations are necessary and for which assistance has been requested under this Convention. This list shall contain an estimate of the cost of such operations. The list may include only such property forming part of the cultural and natural heritage as is threatened by serious and specific dangers, such as the threat of disappearance caused by accelerated deterioration, large-scale public or private projects or rapid urban or tourist development projects; destruction caused by changes in the use or ownership of the land & etc.; The Committee may at any time, in case of urgent need, make a new entry in the List of World Heritage in Danger and publicise such entry immediately.
Let us take Germany as an example. The Cologne Cathedral and Dresden Elbe Valley have been added to the “List of World Heritage in Danger” in different years, because of the development of their surroundings. The threat to Cologne Cathedral came from a plan for high-rise building 1 km away from the church. The threat to the Dresden Elbe Valley came from a plan for bridge 3 km southeast of the Valley. For the above reasons, the World Heritage Committee listed the two sites on the “List of World Heritage in Danger”.
We request the Committee to pay attention to the case of Macao, as the building under construction at the moment near Guia Hill is ONLY 200 metres from the Guia Lighthouse. The height of the building is almost as high as the hill itself.
(Annex VIII: Visualisation of the buildings built according to data announced by the Government Gazettes in July 2007)
Finally, we sincerely, on behalf of Macao citizens who share the common will, would like to request the World Heritage Committee to enforce your right to make a serious in-depth evaluation on the current situation of this case Macao. We hope your could find out the truth, make the right judgement, and act promptly and professionally. We believe that you can avoid human destruction on world heritage to appear again.
We urge the Committee to look into the matter as soon as possible, as damage is being made, time is ticking against us, and similar damage is rapidly multiplying! If we do not stop them now, the Historic Centre of Macao will be ruined in front of us, and this treasure of mankind will submerge under high-rises building. (Annex IX: Other cases of plans that post probable threats to world heritage)