The challenges of conserving port heritage: Tales from Macao, Qingdao, Hong Kong and Taipei

J. Renes, Xiaolin Zang, Bouke van Gorp

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many former ports have been transformed into consumption spaces for the experience economy or into attractive environments for the creative class. In Europe and North America, port heritage has been a major asset in these processes, adding reusable buildings as well as narratives to these new developments. In Asia, similar processes are taking place, but have attracted less attention. This paper looks at heritage conservation in four Asian port cities: Macao, Hong Kong, Qingdao and Taipei. These cities share a colonial past and cultural background, but nowadays operate in different political-administrative systems and economic contexts, offering interesting opportunities for comparison. Conservation of port heritage is challenging as port buildings may lack architectural value, or prove hard to reuse for their size, lay out, or location. The limited access to port areas in the past may mean the public has little knowledge of, or connection with, this heritage. The main challenge for conservation is to move beyond a mere facelift of the waterfront and to preserve a coherent port landscape that tells the story of the port and its relation to the development of the city. Such an integral vision is hampered [1] by poor communication and cooperation between different government levels and agencies, [2] by different agendas of stakeholders and conservationists and [3] because public participation, although often mentioned, proves hard to establish in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPortus plus
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


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