District 12 Strategic Development Master Plan

An exercise in large-scale master planning, revitalization, and community building

February 12, 2018

The strategic development of District 12 offers a unique large-scale opportunity to implement the principles of an approach to urbanism that addresses an increasing desire for more dynamic and lively communities.

~ Robert Marshall, Global Director Planning & Landscape, Principal.

One of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing economies, Vietnam is set to become a developed nation by 2020. Integral to this goal is the planning and development of existing unplanned land in line with modern sustainable growth principles. Recognizing that people are at the centre of sustainable development, the country’s strategy focuses on the needs of its population across strata to address healthy growth. Vietnam’s 2011-2020 sustainable development strategy includes a green growth model that builds a strong and prosperous country by developing an independent and self-reliant economy, a healthy environment, and equality among all citizens.

As Vietnam’s largest city and urban hub, the healthy growth and development of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) will be crucial to the country’s success. The JLL City Momentum Index is an annual report that assesses a broad range of socio-economic and real estate factors to identify cities with the strongest momentum. According to their 2017 report, HCMC ranked second on their list of the World’s 30 Most Dynamic Cities (JLL, 2017).

Composed of nineteen urban districts, HCMC’s District 12 is poised for growth through a long-term land use plan that addresses its transition from a mixed district of agricultural, and largely unplanned communities into a new and dynamic urban sub-centre. B+H’s Planning + Landscape Group is working closely with the local municipality to create a new strategic master plan that will direct development to transform the area with better accessibility, healthy residential neighbourhoods, increased employment opportunities, and the integration of parks, open space, and community amenities.

Creating a new strategic master plan for this district proved to be an interesting challenge. An exercise in regeneration of unplanned rural communities to urban development, District 12 requires a careful strategy to address the instances where redevelopment calls for the displacement of segments of its population – as would be the case with the assembly of new development sites and the introduction of new large-scale infrastructure. To minimize this type of disruption and circumvent uprooting communities and families to remote areas lacking essential services and amenities, the team identified key relocation areas within each development zone to support displaced residents. Resettlement areas serve as new homes for landowners and existing residents.

Equally essential to the overall strategy and plan is conservation of the local culture. District 12 has an existing lively commercial corridor running through the heart of the area that has developed organically and reflects the energy of the existing community. This main road must be relocated because of expansion of the corridor right-of-way, but its redevelopment is central to the area’s accessibility for new development. The intrinsic existing culture of this main thoroughfare will be relocated into the regeneration area to ensure that the population of District 12 feels truly at home in this future-redeveloped community.

The new plan for District 12 embraces a high-level view of the area that divides the development into four distinct zones, each varying between seven to nine square kilometres. Planning takes into consideration current conditions, approved master plans, proposed infrastructure improvements, and it blends these existing elements with new approaches to systems, networks, and community facilities. The revised plans also recommend areas for new construction within each zone based on the development of base infrastructure.

As a strategy for redevelopment and to minimize adverse impacts on the existing population, suitably scaled land clusters will be created for development by single developers. Each cluster will have an internal road network for access to individual buildings. Buildings may be developed or lands may be sold to individual building developers based on master planning approvals. There are also corresponding development plans for resettlement areas within each zone that will support relocation of landowners and existing residents who are displaced due to the land assembly process.

Phased development of District 12 will begin with the development of Zone 1, located along the southeast riverfront, which is dedicated to high-density residential community growth. The planned new arterial road will also provide direct access to the HCMC District 1 Central Business District (CBD). Zone 1 will provide accessible housing for those working in the core and includes the necessary infrastructure to provide residents with comprehensive community services and amenities. Zone 2 is planned as an employment centre and technology zone supporting residential development in other zones.  Zone 2 is also planned with a transit hub, and educational campus.


The remaining two zones provide recreation and entertainment. Zone 3 uses the riverfront as a catalyst for strong community and tourism development. Planning for this zone includes hospitality, food and beverage, retail, tourism, and entertainment amenities. Rounding out the District 12 plan is Zone 4. A regional park zone, the area is currently primarily agricultural and will be redeveloped to create a park providing respite from the urban environment.

Taking cues from the land and local culture, the strategic development master plan for District 12 introduces a new sensibility for regional urban development that will support people, bolster the economy, and set a precedent for development within other parts of HCMC and other emerging nations. An essential component of Vietnam’s plan to build better communities for the future, this transformative plan for HCMC will place emphasis on the people who live there by creating livable, resilient, and inspiring spaces.


Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Size: 2,956 ha
Status: Final Approval
Client: District 12 Municipality
Services: Planning + Landscape