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Old August 1st, 2009, 05:07 PM
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Default Sustainable Settlement in Urban Development of Hanoi, Vietnam

Nguyen To Lang, Associate Professor, PhD.
Hanoi Architectural University, Hanoi, Vietnam

In the process of country renovation with the international integration, Hanoi Capital in particular has been developing rapidly in quality and also in scale. Increasing needs of housing, therefore, require sustainable development settlement areas. The development of new town has partly met the demand of increasing inhabitants and limited land in cities.

Many new towns in Hanoi have been currently planned and invested. New technology has been applied in construction to create completed residential areas in good quality. In general, the strong development of new residential areas gains relatively many achievements. The initial research, however, is not deep and comprehensive enough. The relationship and spatial planning in the whole region are not carefully examined. The architecture design is not completely suitable with Vietnam climate and aesthetic of Vietnamese people. There is no unified standard of design of high-rise buildings that causes much inadequateness and needs further researches.

This paper will preliminarily examine new towns quality and propose some points of view for construction of new towns in Hanoi, that help to build sustainable new towns in the urban development process of Hanoi Capital.

Key words: New town; Settlement; Urban development.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 05:10 PM
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1. Hanoi in Brief

Hanoi is the political, cultural, socio-economic and commercial centre of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Being the Capital and the “City for Peace” recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Hanoi is preparing to celebrate its 1,000 years anniversary in 2010. During the time, Hanoi continuously and rapidly developed in all aspects, including housing, from its structure, form to the quality of the people’s life.

Hanoi lies in the centre of the Red river Delta in the North of Vietnam, at from 20025’ to 21023’ North latitude and from 105044’ to 106002’ East longitude, with an area of 920.97 square kilometres and the population of 3,007,500 inhabitants (surveyed data in 2003). The Hanoi metropolitan comprises 9 urban (inner-city) and 5 suburban districts. The population of the inner-city is 1,744,400 inhabitants (58 percent of the total) and the area occupies for only 13 percent (approximately 120 square kilometres) while the suburban part has 1,263,100 inhabitants with the land area of 87 percent of the whole city. In 2003, Hanoi’s total housing floor areas increased to 20 million square metres, showing a 35 percent increase from the 15 million square metres in 1999. In Hanoi’s urban areas, the housing floor area was estimated at 11.7 million square metres, or a remarkable increase of nearly 60 percent from 7.5 million square metres.

Hanoi’s housing floor area per capita is 7.5 square metres today, and might attain 9 - 10 square metres in 2010 by newly construction of 6 million square metres housing floor areas from now on.

Together with the country’s socio-economic innovation policy, Vietnam has shifted from subsidized centralized economic mechanism to multi-component “market economy” oriented. This orientation has strongly influenced to socio-economic life and bequeathed distinct hallmarks in all aspects of society, included urban architecture and housing.

Many new towns in Hanoi have been currently planned and invested. New technology has been applied in construction to create completed residential areas in good quality. In general, the strong development of new residential areas gains many achievements. The initial research, however, has not been deep and comprehensive enough. The relationship and spatial planning in the whole region have not been carefully examined. The architecture design has not been completely suitable with Vietnam climate and aesthetic of Vietnamese people. There has been no unified standard of design of high-rise buildings that causes much inadequateness and needs further researches.
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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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Old August 1st, 2009, 05:27 PM
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3. Some Fundamental Viewpoints for Construction of New Towns in Hanoi

3.1. Investment Viewpoints

It is necessary to determine clearly that investment organizations must be legal economic organization which are permitted to invest in nationwide. They are recognized and issued business permit by the State to involve in investment projects approved by authorities. Administrative procedures must be simplified and should be solved in one-door office, while land should be legally assigned to appropriate subjects.

Investors are assigned land and construction site by the State, according to plan. Investors are allowed to organize land and property compensation while constructing new towns conformed with city planning. They have right to sell or hire the rest of housing and public facilities at market price to gain benefit, after
contributing to housing stock of the city as an obligation.

Investor have to fulfill obligation of paying all kind of taxes, compensating land clearance cost, contributing part of the flats to the City according to the rules. These flats will be re-distributed to resettled inhabitants by preferential price.

Investor should cooperate with other stakeholders to allocate new towns investment from point of views: Do not invest and construct widely spread, but concentratively where have large demand; To give investment preference covering large and continuous area, in order to form town regions of good architectural space; To invest synchronously, where infrastructure system must be done before constructing buildings.

The viewpoint on investment socializing and mobilizing of all social capital sources for new towns construction should be fully awared.

3.2. Viewpoints on Planning and Landscape Architecture

Structural plan of new town must conform with structure of master plan of tow region and the whole city. Spatial planning and landscape architecture of new towns must integrate with landscape architecture of surounded roads and urban areas.

New town should have advantageous structural plan on environment and climate aspects, such as dust resistance, noise resistance, cold wind resistance, ventilation. Conditions of nature, topography, geomorphology, green trees and water, etc. should be utilized.

Techno-economic norms used in design of new towns must be advanced, modern and appropriate with new town structural plan, not be wasteful and old-fashioned. It is important to choose architectural style in new towns. Buildings in new town should be modern and own Hanoi characteristics. Their architectural forms should match with building’s functions, surrounding landscape, tropical climate of Hanoi and function of the new town.

3.3. Viewpoints on Construction

To schedule reasonably sequence of buiding construction in new town on capital sufficiency, construction facilities, etc.

To arrange space in construction site reasonably and scientifically. Do not build temporary huts to serve for constructing works as in the past. To create openwide construction zone which is good chance to support each other in constructing implementation.

Separate residental areas surrounded might be invested selectively. There should be construction guideline for these areas on architectural form and style, and technical infrastructure that are conformable with overall requirement of the city.

When developing new town, technical infrastructure system must be done before constructing public facilities. Technical infrastructure systems must be fully executed, including roads, water supply, electricity supply, water sewerage and sanitary, communication and land clearance.

3.4. Viewpoints on Urban Management

All land in new towns must be owned by legal owners and boundaries for each land parcel must be mapped out, according to land use purposes.

All organizations and individuals must respect and protect the planning of the residential area, must not violate and change structural planning. All buildings which are legally built in new towns must be managed in accordance with approved detailed plan. All kinds of housing must be managed by construction permit and the original architecture must be kept during building’s lifetime.

Apartment owned by many households must be managed as an individual and complete building on architectural aspect. To maintain aesthetic view, apartment’s facades should be painted with the same colour and material.

Villas should be multiform in architecture but ensure harmony in certain area. Self-help housing in parcels which are invested infrastructure or located in renovated area must be guaranteed on location, set back and height. When breaking the ground, the owner must inform the Project Management Unit and Ward People’s Committee.

All organizations and individuals have responsibitity to protect landscape and living environment in new towns. Detailed plan of new towns must be shown on billboards at the main entrances. Roads and parks must be named.

Advertisement boards and outdoor sculptures which affect to landscape architecture must be permitted by Department of Culture and Information, and Department of Planning and Architecture.

Urban environment and sanitary organization is responsible for collecting and carrying waste to rubbish dump of the city daily. Parkings, public toilets and dustbins must be appropriately arranged at public buildings and cultural activitiy points. Parking, discharging waste and dirty water on pavements causing insanitary are banned.

All buildings in new towns, including housing, public buildings, infrastructure facilities must have legal owner or manager (for buildings owned by the whole people) and be managed by law.

3.5. Viewpoints on Operating Management

When construction work was finished, investor hand over responsibility to urban management agencies according to State’s regulations. All buildings in new towns must be properly used in aspects of purpose, function and capacity as approved design.

All organizations and individuals are responsible for preserving and maintaining all buildings, obeying regulations on urban sanitation, keeping social safety and order and timely preventing acts of building sabotage. It is necessary to propose solutions to implement Decree 126 on Fining for urban safety and order violation, and to educate inhabitant’s awareness.

All households in apartments have right to use private area owned by themselves and to share the use of common areas and infrastructure systems such as corridor, stairs, water supply and sewerage, electricity, tele-communication. Owners and managers are responsible for maintaining, repairing buildings as well as legally responsible for consequences of not doing maintenance and repair according to regulation. It is imperative to establish a Management Unit for New Town Operation, following mottoes of Solidarity, highly Socialization and Specialization. At least four members must take part in this management unit (instead of investor at present), they are: Investor, Local authority, Community and Specialist in design and management.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 05:36 PM
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4. Conclusion

Sustainable settlement is an important factor to impulse sustainable urban development. Human settlement is sustainable only when satisfying all requirements of a sustainable developed city. New towns in Hanoi have been rapidly developed in many types and forms, contributing very much in the Capital’s achievements of urban construction in general and residential area construction in particular.

Almost of new towns have been built conforming to planning, modernization oriented, having synchronous infrastructure systems to meet initially the inhabitant’s demands for living, producing and environment improving, and the demand for sustainable urban development. The face of Hanoi architecture is gradually improved, including diversified and modernised architectural styles of housing and public buildings.

Besides, some new towns have not got distinct architectural orientation, but spontanous. Investment has not been synchronous, capital has not been thoroughly mobilized and properly used. Public service buildings are seriously weak and deficient. Urban facilities are insufficient. There are still some weakness in infrastructure systems generally. Constructing quality of new town is not good enough. There are still disadvantages in urban management of all stages: project preparation, land clearance, planning and architecture management, construction management, and especially operation management.

To build completely and stably new towns, it is necessary to express basic viewpoints on all related aspects such as Investment, Planning and landscape architecture, Executing, Constructing and Operation management, or says synchronously from the beginning to the end, in other words.
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