Case study: The Grand Lisboa (新葡京) Casino, Macau, China
The Grand Lisboa Casino hotel, located at the northern-end of the Macau-Taipa Bridge, was designed by Hong Kong architects Dennis Lau and Ng Chun Man. The hotel, opened in 2008, is 856 feet high, has 430 hotel rooms over 47 floors and is owned by Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The Grand Lisboa is built next to a preceding complex built in 1970 by Stanley Ho, head of a gambling empire and the richest man in Macau.
The Grand Lisboa Casino opened in 2007 and has 800 gaming tables and 1000 slot machines. It is housed in the podium at the base of the tower.
The tower is designed to represent the spirit of Macau through the use of a fantastical architectural style illustrating the opening petals of the lotus flower. The lotus is the official emblem of Macau Special Administrative Region.
To express the lotus shape, the tower has over-hanging floors on two sides.
The building is the 277th tallest in the world and the 155th tallest in Asia and was the tallest in Macau until the nearby Macau Tower was built.
The casino style is in an extravagant and opulent style as befits such a place as Macau. Housed in a podium dome the exterior is clad in 5,600 unique sizes of glass. Like the tower, parts of the dome are finished in 24 carat gold-coated glass.
The interior of the Grand Lisboa Casino is equally opulent. However, because of the structure of the interior ceiling decorative lighting bosses rather than gold leaf, gold PVD coloured stainless steel was used. The PVD creates a seamless match with the gold-leaf used elsewhere.
Everything about the design of the Grand Lisboa is to do with extremes – extreme height, glamour, opulence and over-the-top styling.
The man behind the Grand Lisboa
No less extreme is the life of Stanley Ho, polygamous and with seventeen children he is edging towards 100 years old and is the richest man in Macau. Up until 2001 his company, Sociedad de Truism e Diversoes de Macau (STDM), had a monopoly on all gambling in Macau which ended when Macau was handed back from Portugal to China. After 2001 the big American gambling houses set up shop on Macau with casinos within enormous hotel complexes. Stanley Ho was not to be outdone and began work on the Grand Lisboa which cost around $385 million. His intention was that the Grand Lisboa would be the most luxurious hotel and casino in Asia.
Looking at Macau itself one would say that the extravagance of the Grand Lisboa casino hotel is in complete harmony with the region.
Macau has the fourth highest rate of life expectancy in the world, ranks as one of the world’s richest areas and is completely urban.
The name Macau, meaning “Bay Gate”, is a territory on the western side of the Pearl River Delta in East Asia and has autonomous status. To the north of Macau is the city of Zuhai in mainland China and Hong Kong lies 40 miles to its east across the Delta. It is the most densely populated area in the world with 650,900 people living within 30.5 sq km which in 2016 equated to 21, 400 people per square metre. Macau was originally an island but a connecting sandbar grew to gradually connect it to the land mass turning it into a peninsula.
The Portuguse arrived in Macau in 1513 and created a permanent settlement there in 1557. The authority over Macau was Portugese from 1557 up until 1999 when it was the last remaining European colony in Asia before sovereignty was returned to China.
The unit of currency in Macau is the pataca and in the casino one can play with this as an alternative to the Hong Kong dollar. Macau still has its own language, Macanese Portuguese.