Macau Squares: Discerning the Triadic Sign Model of Built-Heritage

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Despite an objectivist vision by many heritage conservation bodies, the extant literature mostly dwells on the value of heritage as something subjective and arbitrary. Semiotically treating built-heritage as a Peircian triadic sign, instead of a dyadic sign, could reconcile this apparent dichotomy. Some squares of Macau]’s Historic Centre are taken as case study. Using a Coasian perspective, this paper argues how the meaning-delimiting consequences of a triadic semiotic framework allow for a lower transaction cost in valuation and eventually a more sustainable conservation. This has been confirmed by an expert decision in designating the relatively new squares as heritage protected areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7024
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author thanks Francisco Pinheiro for his invaluable help and insights on this paper. He would also like to thank Lawrence Lai and the three anonymous referees for their encouraging and constructive comments and suggestions. All faults are the author?s.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Heritage conservation
  • Macau
  • Square
  • Transaction cost
  • Triadic sign


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