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Old August 1st, 2009, 05:15 PM
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2. Current Situtations of New Towns in Hanoi

2.1. In Regard to Planning

The terminology of ‘new town’ was introduced in Vietnam by constructing the first 184 hecta Linh Dam new town in 1994. After that, new towns have beendeveloped rapidly on both aspects of quantity and quality, and being a positive factor to satisfy the capital’s socio-economic development. Up to 2005, 131 new town projects in Hanoi have been approved, constructed and brough in use.

New towns have been regularly distributed among inner and suburban districts of Hanoi. This balances the development of the city to all directions, exploites reasonably reserve lands and ensures that public facilities in new towns can serve for surrounded residential areas. A significant landuse ratio in these new towns is for multistory apartments, the rest is for villas, detached houses, public buildings, green trees and open spaces.

Land use functions and urban spaces, especially the types of housing in new towns are various, satisfying the requirement of society to some extent. In the new towns that have already been built, some categories of housing cluster have been formed, such as Resettlement housing; Student village; High class apartment and others. In regard to investment, there are types of housing for sale which investor sells directly or by instalments; and housing for rent which investor rents directly or indirectly flats or the whole apartment.

New towns built in Hanoi recently have overcome weeknesses of apartment quarters built in the pass, by increasing housing floor area, area for roads and open spaces, etc. Investment and construction of new towns ensure feasibility in city modernization and conform with the trend of handing land over investor for housing and civil building business. Moreover, development projects of apartment are regarded as a solution for satisfying housing and public building demand, overcoming shortage and increased in price of land, stabilizing society, making favourable conditions for socio-economic management and urban management, decreasing transportation density, improving living environment and giving beautiful looking of the city.

The elements of green trees and water have been considered in planning of new towns. Developed road networks in new towns create opportunity for public transportation service to promote its ability. Many bus stops of the city bus network have been located in new towns to serve inhabitants living there.

Beside the above advantages, there are still some disadvantages in new towns such as situation of focusing on land use planning only, trying to utilize land as much as possible but paying not very much attention to landscape architecture; lacking of public facilities. Infrastructure systems have not been invested synchronously, adequately or rapidly, that have not kept pace with using demand of inhabitants. In many new towns, public facilities like schools, kindergartens, medical centres, parks had still not been available when inhabitants move in. Public spaces for community’s activities in apartment blocks have been developed ineffectively, where only norms of area have been conformed with planning standard, but necessary facilities have been inadequate and unreasonably distributed.

In many cases, design solution for public spaces has not given any close, secure and approachable feeling, especially for elders and children. Executing quality of infrastructure and apartment buildings is unreliable, even some new towns were degraded right after having been built. Generally, parking in new towns are insufficient, consequently means of transport overflow into pavement and roadway to park. Quality of services in new towns are still poor. Drinking water has not been supplied in some places.

2.2. In Regard to Architecture

Housing architecture in new towns has been well developed. Many types of housing which are diversified in scales and comforts, have been built to satisfy the demand of dwelling and improving inhabitant’s life. Residential areas in new towns being built under project or self-built bring new views of urban architecture. These new towns have been initially formed with modern, functional buildings but still closed to traditional culture, natural landscape and traditional architecture. High-rise building architecture which is gradually developed, has been contributing to the improvement of urban views, impulsion of socio-economic development and urban management. High-rise apartment blocks of 15- 20 stories or more which are diversified in styles, colors and material give an impressive look compared to multistory joined-structure apartments built before 1986. The occurence of high-rise beautiful buildings have proved a new favourite architectural style. Having the advantage of new material technology, these buildings present theirs shiny and various features. These new building materials are very convenient as they are changeable, luxurious and attractive.

Public building architecture has been developed variously in functions like trade, culture, administration, designed in contemporary style, acquired advancement of world’s architecture, inherited traditional culture and built conforming to planning. These buildings also contributed to set up urban architecture and landscape. However, some buildings have been monotonous and boring in design, and unsuitable with Hanoi architecture, while others have been located unappropriately ruining landscape and the beauty of new road corridors in new towns. Design solutions have been simple and not yet carefully studied, urban spaces have been characterless and illegaly encroached in some places.

Architecture languages have been still mixed, formalistic, patchy and imitative without filtering, while the use of finalized materials and color has been still random. Some buildings ruin natural landscape and pollute the cultural urban environment. There are still shortcomings in illegal extension, unconformative planning and architecture norms, violation of sanitary and environment regulations, and urban landscape ruins. It is due to the unspecific regulations for architecture management in new towns and lack of awareness in self-management of inhabitants.

The monotone of typical block affected aestic quality of housing clusters on the aspect of shape and proportion. The facades also depend on structural solution which shows clearly on facades. There have been still disadvantages in housing design, room-structure in many flats are still unreasonable. The reason is that high-rise apartments have been designed by consultant institutions according to the order of investor that serve for specific target such as resettlement apartments, low-income apartments, apartments for sales, etc. Conditions of ventilation and fire safety have not been guaranteed in many apartments.

As for villa zone, in many cases, the owners design the villas themselves without architect’s consultancy, causing disordered architecture. Practical architecture design and construction prove that architecture of new towns in Hanoi is still spontanous and lacks of criticism. Generally, the combination between architecture details in the overall design as well as the relationship between buildings and landscape seem not to be considered, studied or referred to urban design principles. The colours used in high-rise apartments are poor, unaesthetic and will be degraded due to inadequate and irregular maintenance.

In apartment, public services are located at ground floor, serving everyday consumption goods. Generally, public communicative spaces have been ignored by investors because the area for these spaces are nonprofitable. Interior and equipments for public services, public communicative spaces and technical facilities are equipped at minimal level of scale, quantity and quality. Microclimate consideration, optimal building aspect determination, anti-heat requirement, ventilation and energy saving have not been considered carefully in new town projects in Hanoi.

2.3. In Regard to Urban Management

There are certain difficulties in new town planning. A new town is a project carried out by an investor, thus buildings and land for different functions depend very much upon project’s specific objective, investment budgets and real estate market factors, etc. State’s regulations on construction planning have been available, but specific norms for new town planning have not been clearly defined in guideline documents. Guideline documents for detail planning of functional areas are not specific enough to apply to new town planning. In addition, many steps of planning process and content are inappropriate for daily life and socio-economic conditions.

For many reasons, during planning progress, the investors usually request planning adjustment to meet their interests. As a result, the time for setting up and approving planning project has been extended, and sometimes approved plan has no been longer appropriate to socioeconomic demand at that point of time. New towns which are in stage of setting up feasible projects, are risking slow implementation due to the above reasons.

Cost and progress management have not been properly paid attention, consequently many projects have been implemented for many years but no work has been completely finished. Many buildings are still under construction that cannot bring in use while investor runs out of capital seriously. Many problems arise from safety management and environment protection in construction of new towns. Large number of workers have concentrated in a large site, thus labour safety and sanitation have not been well guaranteed, accidents have been unfortunately happened, and surrounding areas have been suffering from dust for a long time.

In order to manage projects for construction investment as well as new town investment, the State issued Construction Law in 2003, followed by many Decrees, Circulars, Codes and Standards. Besides, investors have their own regulations based on their capacity and experience. But it is not simple to apply and integrate these documents in project management in order to build synchronously, modernly, well planned and high quality new towns. This is still a question for governors, investors and project managers that need to be analysed and studied thoroughly.
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