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The Paradox of the HANOI Development by Levone


									The Paradox of the HANOI Development
Samba Ichsanna WIDHYASTUTI
Summary Vietnam’s modern history has been characterised by three phases: colonialism, war and socialism. The impact of all these historical phases is evident in the social, economic and political life of the nation. No Vietnamese city, however, incorporates the legacy of history as Hanoi does and this is particularly marked in these times of changes for the city. The city of Hanoi is undergoing important changes in both political and economic spheres and all this will have impacts on the morphology and future growth of the city.

Introduction Cultural heritage in Hanoi has been shaped by conflicts between institutions, land development control, planning and heritage laws. Being the capital city and being also a rapidly expanding urban area, Hanoi is attracting particular attention both at the national and international level. With present reforms, the major changes are just beginning and any attempt to understand the present landscape of the city and its future growth should take into consideration the following issues and problems. There are complicated social changes as a result of commercialisation of a neo-Stalinist system. (Forbes, 1991,p.100), Spatial issues and housing and heritage, which led to problems of insufficiency in capital involvement and international assistance because of the continuing US embargo against Vietnam during the last two decades, lack of an adequate infrastructure, lack of adequate market economy managerial know-how, the fact that several state units can be run only through subsidies. (Forbes,1991,p116 & Anh, 1994, p.66).), during and after the war there was heavy migration from rural provinces and Hanoi’s municipal population has increased by 400 percent -today it amounts to about 3 million.  Most of this population is found in suburban districts, however   all over Hanoi there is an acute shortage of housing. The Vietnamese Architects Association estimated that in 1991 more than 100.000 people were living in provisional shelters. Similarly in the Old Sector of the city the population density has

Hanoi’s history dates back more than one thousand years. It has enjoyed the status of capital city since 1010 A.D., a status shortly interrupted with the transfer of the capital to Hue but again regained with French colonialism and reconfirmed in 1954 by the Vietnamese Socialist Government. (Logan, 1995, p.328). Vietnam’s history is characterised by a Chinese and Vietnamese feudal period followed by a modern period, during which French colonialism and American involvement led to long years of war. The recent years of independence were characterised by Soviet influence in political and cultural areas ( Gillespie & Logan, 1994, p.96). The city of Hanoi, more than any other Vietnamese city, is representative of the different periods of Vietnam’s history. Its urban environment represents a townscape of great heritage value. In particular the buildings and streetscapes of the “Old Sector” incorporate most of the elements that make Hanoi so distinguished. Despite the long years of war and unlike other Vietnamese cities, Hanoi did not suffer large scale physical devastation. Particularly the Old Sector remains relatively intact, with its streets patterns, streetscapes and historic monuments still preserved (Gillespie & Logan, 1995, p.96). War conditions, a stagnant economy due to communist rule and a prolonged U.S. embargo meant lack of pressure on building development, despite Hanoi’s growing population and poor living conditions. Today, with the introduction of Doi-Moi, the city reflects a different environment where opportunities are recognised and innovation is welcome. However the present situation presents also economic and social problems, typical in any transition period. One of the major dilemmas facing Hanoi’s authorities and planners is represented by the Old Sector and its heritage value, the opportunities it presents and the threats on its fabric. There are three distinct quarters in the Old Sector of Hanoi.

risen to 1.5 square meters per person. This situation presents two major issues in the development of the city: housing and heritage conservation. An active economic environment, overcrowding and poor infrastructure have created a need for housing and highlighted the urgency of heritage conservation. The Paradox of the Hanoi Development. From a cultural point of view Hanoi is a unique city. Its townscape has a multilayered aspect and each layer contrastingly represents different historical periods of foreign political and cultural domination. These layers however are not only physical “political icons”, but they are also representative of the ability of the Vietnamese people to adapt and incorporate foreign culture, while at the same time preserving their own.

Three distinct quarters in the Old Sector of Hanoi. The city of heritage in Hanoi is represented by these three quarters: the area of 36 commercial streets or ancient quarter, the french quarter, and the ba dinh or citadel quarter. All these places are located in the northeast part of the city area.


The Area of 36 Commercial Streets or Ancient Quarter Located north of Hoan Kiem Lake, this quarter was originally founded as an area for artisan guilds and each street still bears the name of the specialised guild that initially was operating there. With the influx of Chinese merchants in the 17th century, the area evolved to a settlement with a particular street pattern. During the French colonial period modifications to the street patterns were made. In a similar way house types have undergone a progression of change over time. Nevertheless the Ancient Quarter, with remnants of brick and timber structures from the 9th up to the 20th century, its “tube houses” and old temples and pagodas, retains a unique character. The main characteristic of this area is the readability of its morphology and the combination of early traditional housing with a 20th century European influence. Another characteristic is the scale of the quarter with its buildings ranging from single to four storeys. However this pattern is increasingly being interrupted by new structures of up to six storeys. (Australia and West Pacific Network for Urban Conservation (AWPNUC), 1994, p.10). The French Quarter This area was established mainly as a French settlement and it lies south of Hoan Kiem Lake. Founded as the first western commercial centre, the area is characterised by neoclassical public buildings, a grid of boulevards lined with trees and European villas. All this is complemented with an opera house, parks and squares ( AWPNUC,1994,P.44). Visibly contrasting with the Ancient Quarter, this European area is an example of the colonial city, typically structured to serve the interests and to impose the culture of the metropole. With the economic depression of the 1930s and following war years, French building activities came to a halt. Nowadays this area is characterised by European style building, remaining there as icons of a past colonial era. (Logan, 1994, p.46). The Ba Dinh or Citadel Quarter This precinct is located to the north-west of the French Quarter and represents the core of Hanoi’s history. The Citadel was originally built in 1014 A.D. by the king Ly Thai To and completely rebuilt at the beginning of the 19th century by Emperor Gia Long. Later the French demolished some stone ramparts and the imperial palace, replacing it with their own military headquarters. Additional buildings consisted of the Governor General’s palace and ministry offices, all this giving the site a monumental aspect. Subsequent changes were the construction of Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, the Ho Chi Minh Museum and the headquarters of the Vietnamese Communist Party. (Logan,1995,p.331). Being the heart of national pride and identity and also being the site where different political icons were overlaid, the Citadel is of particular significance in Hanoi’s cultural heritage.

The cultural heritage Proper conservation of these cultural resources presents benefits both in the social and economic sense. The cultural assets in Hanoi could provide a basis for the tourism industry, which potentially could become an important component of the national economy. On the other hand, from a social point of view the protection of the Old Sector will:      help arrest the decline in the cultural value of Hanoi; add to the human dignity of residents; help maintain links with the nation’s past; improve living conditions by upgrading the urban environment and by creating employment; support the revival of traditional arts and crafts.

Although the importance of conservation is generally recognised, it is only to be expected that some pro - development forces would emerge. Foreign investors in particular are nowadays targeting the French quarter and other interesting sites. There are already some proposals for Hong Kong, Singapore, Australian and other foreign investors to build high rise buildings. These proposals relate to key heritage sites in the Old Sector and around the Hoan Kiem and deal with building with heights ranging from 10 to 24 storeys. In most cases Hanoi’s professionals oppose similar proposals and recognise the importance of the city’s heritage areas. However, the threat that investors might take their capital elsewhere and political pressures might force their hands. Conservation initiatives. Initiatives for the protection and restoration of Hanoi’s Old Quarter were originally taken by planners at the National Institute for Urban and Rural Planning (NIURP) in 1989. Proposals were passed to UNESCO and a project, which had 5 main objectives, was approved. In addition to the long-term objective of putting in place the necessary human and administrative resource bases needed to protect Hanoi’s heritage, the project had as immediate objectives the identification of Hanoi’s cultural heritage, the formulation of appropriate policies and regulations. Both the Vietnamese government and UNESCO approved this project. However the withdrawal of the U.S., UK. and Singapore from UNESCO brought about a cut in the operational budget of the Organisation and the project could not continue. (Logan, 1995,pp.332-333). Problems  Due to the general housing shortage, houses are overcrowded. This is particularly marked in the Area of 36 Commercial Streets, where the narrow tube houses are now housing five   families. Lack of maintenance for a long time has resulted in physical deterioration. Particularly sanitary conditions are very poor. Residents’ and government building activities are threatening the heritage value of the sites. If this is not brought under


control the risk is to lose Hanoi’s cultural patrimony and the tourist potential.   Lack of appropriate heritage legislation and enforcement mechanisms Threats from foreign investors. AWPNUC, p.3). (Logan,1995,pp.332 &

What should be done in Hanoi: Heritage re-defined Some decision-makers in Hanoi have shown the tendency to discount the townscape elements dating from the French period. This is shown in the fact that not even one building from the French quarter has been included in the list of protected sites. This list, in fact, contains only buildings from the Area of 36 Commercial Streets. Hanoi’s townscape is made of different layers of external cultural influence and therefore the French influence (and the Soviet as well) are an integral part of its heritage. Therefore what is needed is to put such heritage items under legislative protection. Another point in need of clarification regards the built fabric of the Ancient Quarter. This is usually considered by many local and foreign advisers as if it were centuries old. The fact is that the Ancient Quarter suffered large-scale destruction in the 1870s and again in the battles of 1946 - 1947. A 1933 housing survey of 33 streets in this quarter showed that only 7% were built before 1900 and that they were scattered all over the area and therefore not forming a compact precinct. In addition 9% were built between 1900 and 1930, while the remaining 84% were built after this period. We can therefore see that it is not age, scale or design of the buildings that is of primary importance. In this quarter there are only a few pagodas and temples that are worth preserving on merit of their individual architectural or historic significance. The French modified even the old feudal street pattern, streets were widened and drained and footpaths were installed. (Logan, 1995, pp.337-338). What is therefore mainly needed is the protection of the way of life and not merely the physical. The approach should be to consider the cultural landscape. Culture that is interacting with its environment. Although this interaction has historic origins, it is continuing today. It is not historic monuments

Breaking the Paradox of Development
Understanding Conflicts Between Insitutions Urban and regional planning in Vietnam takes place at the national and local levels and this creates conflict and rivalry between institutions. (See Table 1: Conflicts Between Institutions) Land development control  Land is owned by the State   The administrative function of land has been delegated to People’s Committees at provincial, city and district levels Land use rights are available to state and private companies, cooperatives and individuals but they may differ in characteristics such as durability or ability to be transferred: land use rights allotted for domestic dwellings exist in perpetuity and may be freely transferred. on the contrary land use rights for commercial purposes cannot be allotted without approval from the local People’s Committee. although land cannot be owned privately, ownership of improvements (such as buildings) is allowed.

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Planning and heritage laws. With the possibility of having private property rights, development activities have moved from state to private initiatives.  The April 1992 “ Planning and Management Ordinance” provides prescriptive rules for private development which deal with bulk, height, shape, location, plot ratio etc. A master plan for Hanoi was prepared by the NIURP and approved in 1993. The “Ordinance on Protection and Usage of Historical, Cultural and Famous Places” is in effect from April 1984. (Logan 1995, p.337). As a result of this legislation restoration and renovation started all over the country. In Hanoi the NIURP and the Ministry of Information and Culture jointly carry out the classification of historical buildings. The “Regulations on Construction Management and Conservation of the Old Quarter of Hanoi” were promulgated in order to incorporate heritage matters in the Hanoi Master Plan. Until now a list of 80 protected buildings has been prepared. This list relates to sites in the Area of 36 Commercial Streets but not the French Quarter.

that we are considering, rather the significance lies in its actual qualities. (Logan, 1995, p.338). The heritage value of old buildings or precincts is widely recognised. However, particularly in cases like Hanoi, where entire precincts are involved, the issue should be considered very carefully. When observing the landscape, a foreigner should try to look at it from different perspectives. Surely the first contact with this landscape will evoke mental images of feudal Chinese or French colonial environments, thus reviving icons of the past and perhaps the architecture of the pagodas will have an exotic aesthetic appeal. This way of looking at the landscape will prompt the observer to argue for its preservation and any apparent disinterest will be not comprehensible. For the resident, places like the Ancient Quarter of Hanoi provide a different landscape. This person would look at the buildings as places: places of work or places of rest. That landscape could mean community warmth or could be a reminder of poverty, thus a landscape to be changed. From this perspective, the different, sometimes opposite, meanings that different points of view provide become evident. Because cultural heritage is not only the past, but also the present.

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