Vietnamese City Planning Has Lessons for Global Communities

Healthy 10-Minute Neighbourhoods

May 22, 2018

On May 14, B+H presented at the 55th International Making Cities Livable Conference, which focused on designing healthy, 10-minute neighbourhoods globally. Drawing on B+H’s global expertise and experience in Vietnam, B+H explored the design of Saigon Park and the Hamlet Waterfront Residential Master Plan to demonstrate how strategic planning and design can create truly sustainable cities and communities. Robert Marshall, B+H Principal and Global Director Planning & Landscape; Eddie Wu, Principal; and Quan Nguyen, Director, Planning & Landscape Vietnam; drew from their nearly 80 years of cumulative experience to inform their presentations.

In attendance were world leaders, city officials, practitioners, in addition to scholars and students in architecture, urban design, planning, health policy, social sciences, psychology, urban anthropology, nutrition, transportation planning, engineering, environmental science, law and urban affairs. This eclectic collection of minds met to exchange experiences and ideas on how to improve health and well-being for all and ensure the long term sustainability of the natural and man-made environments within our cities.

Saigon Park is a large linear historic park in the Central Business District (CBD) of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam. The park serves as the terminus of the new Metro line at one end, and an updated central transit bus terminal at the opposite, with routes extending into the city. “The strategy around the park’s revitalization is to transition it from an open green space for passive recreation into a dynamic urban destination that ties together surrounding neighbourhoods through commercial and cultural services”, says Eddie Wu. “Surrounding communities are also rapidly transitioning, making this a key initiative in defining the future of this part of the CBD by strengthening the local economic engine.”

The Hamlet Waterfront Residential Master Plan is an approximately 200-hectare site south of the HCMC urban area, along the Saigon River. “Meeting the needs of families looking for grade-related housing close to the city at more affordable prices than available in the city, plans include a mix of housing and amenities focused on walkability,” explains Quan Nguyen. “Through phased planning and development aimed at increasing access to, and within, the site via waterways, linear parks, streets, and walkways, the long-term vision positions the development as an active urban subcentre.”

When considering how experience in planning and design specifically in Vietnam can apply to the revitalization of global cities and communities, Marshall explains, “The design of Saigon Park speaks to how we can make 10-minute neighbourhoods healthier through the rejuvenation of existing spaces within high-density cities across the globe. The design of the park demonstrates an opportunity to create meaningful public outdoor spaces that support people through walkable amenities, provide spaces and services that serve all segments of society, and reinforce a sense of civic pride.”

On a larger scale, Marshall explains, “The Hamlet Waterfront Residential Plan teaches us lessons on how the principles of biomimicry can be applied to the masterplanning of new urban subcentres to achieve a low-impact approach. A biomimetic approach preserves the environment by working with the forces of nature to create a greater level of sustainability and resiliency. By incorporating diversity, complexity, and character, the framework for the plan allows for the flexibility required to design an ecosystem that can adapt as uses evolve.”