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Cities, Vol. 22, No. 2, p.

161–173, 2005
Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd.
doi:10.1016/j.cities.2005.01.006 All rights reserved.
Printed in Great Britain
0264-2751/$ - see front matter

City profile
Basil van Horen
Development Planning Program, School of Geography,
Planning and Architecture, University of Queensland,
QLD 4072, Australia

Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and is the political, economic and
cultural centre of the country. While Hanoi is an ancient city that will be celebrating its
1000th year of existence in 2010, archaeological evidence indicates that human habitation
on the site of present-day Hanoi dates back 10,000 years. HanoiÕs fabric has been shaped
by a variety of influences, including a thousand years of Chinese rule, indigenous Vietnamese
rule, French colonial rule, the American War, the Soviet era, and the current Doi Moi period.
Hanoi has a population of 3.1 million people, and the Hanoi General Master Plan aims to
develop the economy and society of the city with a view to being competitive with other large
cities in Asia. The plan aims to encourage foreign investment, make effective use of capital
resources, and improve economic conditions in the city. While governed by Communist struc-
tures, with PeopleÕs Committees managing the political affairs of Hanoi metropolitan area, its
Districts and Wards, the economy has reflected significant transformations where the policy of
Doi Moi signalled the opening up of the economy. Also significant is the recent shift from top-
down Master Planning to a more Strategic approach to HanoiÕs planning and urban manage-
Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: History, planning, urban management, economic transformation, future development

Hanoi will celebrate its 1000th year of to becoming increasingly market-ori- Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages during
existence in 2010. The city has an ented. This policy change is also re- which human beings settled in lime-
extraordinarily rich history, with a mul- flected in changes in the systems of stone hills, and in caves located near
titude of influences that have shaped its urban planning and urban management rives and forests where fish and game
fabric. These include the Chinese who which have shifted from rigid, top- were plentiful. The first inhabitants
occupied the country for a thousand down Soviet style Master Planning to of present-day Hanoi comprised a feu-
years, the French colonial regime, the a more flexible Strategic Planning and dal society that initially depended on
American War, and the alliance with urban management approach that is hunting, fishing and gathering but sub-
the Soviet Union. Prior to the break- currently being implemented in Hanoi. sequently developed animal hus-
up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Viet- bandry and agriculture. In the 3rd
nam embarked on economic policies century BC, King Thuc Phan of the
aimed at greater integration into the
Historical growth and change
Tay Au formed the kingdom of Au
global economy. After the introduction
of Hanoi
Lac, and the capital was shifted to
of the policies of Doi Moi in 1986, Viet- Ancient period Co Loa, which is only 20 km from Ha-
nam has maintained a Communist Archaeological evidence indicates noi (Vien, 1993).
political structure of government, but that human habitation of northern
has opened up the economy with a view Vietnam dates back 500,000 years, A thousand years of Chinese rule
and habitation of present-day Hanoi (1st century BC–10th century AD)
*Tel.: +61-7-3365-6707; fax: +61-7-3365- dates back 10,000 years. Settlement As early as 214 BC, the Chinese set up
6899; e-mail: in the city area dates back to the a military garrison near present-day

City profile: Basil van Horen

Hanoi and went on to occupy the resulted in the Vietnamese defeating were killed and 15,872 were detained,
kingdom of Au Lac. From the 1st cen- the Chinese and re-establishing inde- but this did not hinder the growth of
tury BC to the 10th century AD, the pendence within 20 years of the initial the Communist Party which had
Han people occupied Vietnam. The occupation. The feudal society built un- strong roots among the population.
Chinese introduced many important der the Le kings in the 15th century In Hanoi, on 2 September 1945, Ho
technological innovations, including flourished for about a hundred years. Chi Minh declared the independence
ploughs and irrigation systems, also However, decadence manifested itself of the Democratic Republic of Viet-
profoundly influencing Vietnamese during the 18th century, and in reac- nam at Ba Dinh Square. War against
culture and structures of government, tion, peasant revolts spread and the French occupation broke out on 23
especially through the introduction of Tay Son ended the rule of the Trinh September 1945. The first large battle
the teachings of Confucius. However, kings, following an attack on Thang was for Hanoi in 1946, which the
resistance to Chinese rule was evident Long in 1789 (Vien, 1993). French took two months to control.
on an ongoing basis throughout Viet- On 7 May 1954, the Vietnamese con-
nam. In the year 938, revolutionary French colonial rule (1858–1954) quered the French command centre
leader Ngo Quyen attacked and de- On 31 August 1858, a French naval at Dien Bien Phu, and the French sur-
feated the Chinese, and established squadron attacked Vietnam, launch- rendered. More than one million Viet-
an independent Vietnamese state. ing a war of colonial conquest. In namese civilians, between 200,000 and
1867, the French invaded Vietnam, 300,000 Viet Minh fighters and
Vietnamese rule (11th–19th establishing South Vietnam as a 95,000 French troops were killed in
centuries) French colony, and captured Hanoi the war (Logan, 2000; Vien, 1993).
With the establishment of the Ly Dy- in 1874. In Hanoi, the French demol-
nasty in 1009, the monarchy secured ished the ancient citadel, tore down
its hold on power. In 1010, Emperor the imperial palace, and in their place The American War (1954–1975)
Ly Thai To ordered the transfer of the erected their own military headquar- After the 1954 Geneva Agreement,
capital to Thang Long, which is the site ters, Governor-GeneralÕs palace, and which effectively divided the country,
of present day Hanoi. During this peri- ministry buildings (Logan, 1995). Ngu- the USA supported the regime of
od, Thang Long consisted of the Royal yen Tat Thanh, better known as Ho anti-communist Ngo Dinh Diem in
City (Hoang Thanh) and the Common- Chi Minh, presented a plan for an the South, aiming to eliminate the
ersÕ City (Kinh Thanh). For the next independent Vietnam at the 1919 Ver- Communist movement in North Viet-
400 years, Thang Long served as the sailles Peace Conference, but this was nam. The Vietnamese Workers Party,
administrative seat of government. rejected by the French (see Figure 1). based in Hanoi, specified that the
The Great Royal Enclosure, now the In March 1929, the first Communist North should embark upon a socialist
cityÕs Old Quarter, was built, and the Party cell was set up in Hanoi. In an path of development. The very back-
nationÕs first university, the Temple of attempt to suppress the party, the ward state of the economy––a legacy
Literature, was founded. In 1407, the French used torture, imprisonment, of centuries of feudalism and colonial-
Chinese again captured Hanoi. How- and the death penalty. Between 1929 ism––was a major obstacle to the
ever, the guerrilla tactics of Le Loi and 1932, 775 Vietnamese people establishment of socialism. The 3rd

Figure 1 The French-built governor-generalÕs palace.

City profile: Basil van Horen

Party Congress held in Hanoi in 1960 and 17,000 houses were destroyed. Treaty of Friendship and Coopera-
set down general guidelines for eco- Approximately 720,000 people were tion, which established a strong eco-
nomic development and the first five evacuated from the city (Thrift and nomic relationship. Between 1955
year (1961–1965) plan for reconstruc- Forbes, 1985). Importantly, life in Ha- and 1990, more than 22,700 students
tion of socialist infrastructure. How- noi during the bombing was under- were educated in the Soviet Union
ever, undermining attempts to pinned by a conviction of residents (Vien, 1993; Logan, 2000).
stimulate economic development, in that they would ultimately defeat the In Hanoi, evidence of the Soviet
March 1965, the USA started Opera- Americans, a conviction reflecting a influence included numerous buildings
tion Rolling Thunder, which involved national psyche formed from a blend designed by Soviet architects. These
the bombing of North Vietnam. The of Buddhist stoicism, Confucian re- included the Soviet––Vietnamese
first bombs were dropped on Hanoi straint and a patience born of a history Friendship Cultural Palace, the State
on 29 June 1966, killing over 52,000 littered with wars, invasions and resis- Assembly Building, the Hanoi Peo-
civilians. In November of the same tance movements. The Viet Cong pleÕs Committee Building, the Hanoi
year, American President Johnson launched an attack on American Polytechnical Institute, the Hanoi rail-
authorised further bombing of the forces in January 1975, and on 30 way station, the Ho Chi Minh Mauso-
city. Bombs hit commercial streets, April 1975, the Viet Cong occupied leum (see Figure 2), and Soviet-built
destroyed the Textile Mill, the Medi- Saigon, bringing three decades of war apartment blocks. The Soviets placed
cine and Pharmacy Faculty, the Water to an end. Two million Vietnamese a strong emphasis on providing hous-
Conservation Institute, and obliter- had died in the War, and the economy ing for all Hanoi residents, building
ated an entire block of 300 residential was in disarray. In 1979, the Chinese numerous four and five storey walk-
houses in Hanoi. In March 1967, the attacked Hanoi, but were repelled in up public housing blocks. However,
US resumed bombing of civilian tar- 17 days of fighting (Vien, 1993; Logan, construction quality was not very
gets. To minimise the impact of the 2000). good, and maintenance problems soon
bombing, North Vietnam decentra- emerged. The construction process in-
lised its economy and evacuated large volved the transfer of Soviet design
numbers of people from Hanoi (For- The Soviet––Vietnamese linkage principles to Hanoi, whereby Soviet
bes, 2001; Vien, 1993). (1950s–mid-1980s) architects and planners shaped Ha-
American bombing of Hanoi inten- In the 1950s, Vietnam worked to noiÕs townscape, thereby reinforcing
sified during the later 1960s. In 1968, strengthen linkages with the Soviet Soviet hegemony (Vien, 1993; Logan,
400,000 Communist Viet Cong troops Union. This included economic aid 2000) (see Figure 3).
launched the Tet Offensive, involving as per the Economic and Technical
armed attacks and uprisings through- Cooperation Agreement of 1955 fol- The Doi Moi (renovation) period
out the South. American President lowed, in 1958, by a Trade and Mari- (1986-present)
Nixon ordered another wave of bomb- time Agreement that specified the Before the disintegration of the Soviet
ing of North Vietnam in 1972, result- system of exchange to be used in So- Union in 1991, there was widespread
ing in almost all towns being totally viet––Vietnamese trade. Soviet assis- questioning of the value of Soviet
or partially destroyed. HanoiÕs elec- tance declined during the 1960s and planning and design principles in Ha-
tricity plant, Radio HanoiÕs radio sta- 1970s, but strengthened again after noi. By the mid-1980s, population
tion, the railway station, the Bach the American War. In 1975, Vietnam densities in the Ancient Quarter in
Mai hospital, the Long Bien Bridge, and the Soviet Union signed the Hanoi had reached 1.5 m2 per person,

Figure 2 Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum adjacent to Ba Dinh Square.

City profile: Basil van Horen

Figure 3 Soviet-built state assembly building across from Ba Dinh Square.

poverty levels were high, and eco- 1995; Forbes, 1995; Forbes and Le sulted in increased economic opportu-
nomic conditions were worsening with Hong Ke, 1996). nities in Hanoi, it is anticipated that
inflation running at 700% per annum. in-migration will increase to between
The retirement from office of the 2% and 2.5%. In this context, projec-
Ôold guardÕ and the accession to office
The urban form of Hanoi tions are that the population of the
of reformist Nguyen Van Linh to the Hanoi is located in the centre of the Hanoi Metropolitan Area will reach
position of Secretary-General of the northern delta of the Sông Hô´ng 5 million by 2020 (HAPI, 2004a,b).
Communist Party signalled a shift in (Red River), occupying an area of Before describing some of the key
government thinking. This resulted in 927 km2. It is situated in a climatic elements of HanoiÕs physical fabric, it
Doi Moi (renovation) policies being zone where winter is cold and dry, is important to note that understand-
introduced at HanoiÕs Sixth Com- while from February to March, driz- ing the physical fabric of Hanoi re-
munist Party Congress in 1986. zles and monsoon rains are frequent. quires recognition of the influences of
Doi Moi meant severing the rela- It is hot from April to June, while Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.
tionship with Russia, and increasing from July to September there are hea- Taoism and Confucianism pre-dated
linkages with western countries, vy rains, resulting in frequent flooding. Buddhism, having been brought into
involving openness to foreign invest- Annual average rainfall in Hanoi is Hanoi by the Chinese rulers. Taoism
ment and private ownership. Doi 1678 mm. Temperatures range from was originally derived from the philo-
Moi has seen rapid economic growth, lows of 6 °C in winter, up to 45 °C in sophical doctrines of Lao-tzu, center-
the expansion of exports, inflow of summer. Many rivers flow through ing on the notion of peopleÕs oneness
foreign capital, and integration with the city. The major river is the with the universe. During Chinese
economies in Asia Pacific. New poli- 1183 km long Sông Hô´ng (Red River) rule, Confucianism existed in a Bud-
cies also involved the abolition of that flows from its source in China dhist environment but had little influ-
price subsidies, the privatisation of through to the Gulf of Tonkin. Hanoi ence on policy-making. It was not
some state enterprises, encourage- has many other waterways, and ponds until the 13th century that the influ-
ment of private investment, and and lakes are also numerous in Hanoi, ence of Confucianism, along with Tao-
permission for the market-based including Hô´ Tây (West Lake), and ism, regained the dominant status that
economy to grow outside the state Hoàn Kiém Lake (Government of they enjoyed before the rise of Bud-
sector. Within Hanoi, economic re- Vietnam, 2004). dhism. By the fifteenth century, Con-
form resulted in the development of The current population of Hanoi is fucianism became dominant over
a middle class, evidence of which is 3.1 million. The population growth Buddhism. The relative strength of
provided by the emergence of private rate in the metropolitan area is Confucianism and Buddhism shifted
shops, offices, guest houses, and the 1.5% per annum, due to natural over subsequent centuries. From the
emergence of an informal sector of population growth combined with rur- 15th to the 17th centuries, Buddhism
trishaw riders (xı´ch lô) and street al in-migration. Given the economic declined and Confucianism became
traders (Dixon and Kilgour, 2002; transformation associated with Doi more formalised. However, Buddhism
Smith and Scarpaci, 2001; McGee, Moi economic policies, which has re- re-emerged during the 18th century.

City profile: Basil van Horen

Evidence of these influences is pro- Day and New Year. In the mornings planning and management policy
vided by Buddhist pagodas that date people practice tai chi and jog around (HAPI, 2004a,b). South of the An-
back almost a thousand years, includ- the lake, while during the day, infor- cient Quarter, the Hoàn Kiê´m pre-
ing the Kim Lien Pagoda on the banks mal hawkers sell their wares. The lake cinct is carefully maintained both by
of Hô´ Tây (West Lake). Temples and and its two islands, and their temples, residents and HanoiÕs City Land and
tombs such as Den Ngoc S on at the banks, trees and gardens have become Housing Department. The Chief
northern end of Hoàn Kiém Lake, one of the most important heritage ArchitectÕs office has imposed height
marked the influence of Confucianism conservation foci in Hanoi (Govern- restrictions on buildings constructed
mixed with Taoist dynastic or ancestor ment of Vietnam, 2004; Logan, 2000) around Hoàn Kiê´m Lake with a view
worship. Interestingly, the Den Ngoc (see Figure 4). to retaining the attractive physical
Son temple reflects a combination of The Ancient Quarter, or 36 Pho attributes of the Lake area. Even so,
Buddhist, Confucian and Tao ele- Phuong (36 Old Streets Quarter), sur- there is a rapidly growing concentra-
ments (Vien, 1993; Logan, 2000). rounds Hoàn Kiê´m Lake and is the tion of shops that target young afflu-
Hanoi comprises seven urban Dis- historic core of Hanoi that grew out- ent Vietnamese and international
tricts and five suburban Districts. The side the walls of the ancient citadel tourists around Hoàn Kiê´m Lake. A
urban Districts are Ba D - ô´ng
- inh, D during the ancient period. HanoiÕs risk arising from this orientation is
-Da, Hai Bà Trúng, Hoàn Kiê´m, Câ´u old districts are renowned for the that HanoiÕs less affluent citizens will
Giâ´uy, Than Xuân and Tây Hô´, the good quality of the built environment, become excluded from Hoàn Kiêm,
first four of which form the core of the lively and hospitable ambiance, which is the traditional heart of the
Hanoi. Within Hoàn Kiê´m District, is and the reflection that these areas city (Logan, 2000).
Hoàn Kiê´m Lake, which is surrounded have of the cityÕs history (Parenteau Located to the south of Hoàn Kiê´m
by the Ancient Quarter. Immediately et al., 1995). The shop-houses, mar- Lake, and contiguous to the Ancient
to the south of the Ancient Quarter, kets, temples and pagodas, and the Quarter, the French added the ÔFrench
within Ba D - inh District, is the French irregular road pattern date back to QuarterÕ to Hanoi after occupying the
Quarter. Ba D - inh Square is located to the 15th century, while many religious city in 1874. The ÔFrench QuarterÕ was
the north-west of the Ancient Quarter buildings date back to the 11th cen- established mainly for French resi-
and to the south of Hô´ Tây (West tury. Even though many of these shop- dents, and continues to be character-
Lake). On the periphery of Hanoi houses have been modified and ised by wide avenues and boulevards.
are five suburban Districts––Gia renovated in recent years, and street Housing and buildings are both
Lâm, Tú Liêm, Sóc Són, Thanh Trı̀ functions have changed during the publicly and privately owned. Most
and D - ông Anh Districts. Within these last century, they still bear the names of the private properties are managed
Districts are industrial zones, large of the guilds that were housed in by the state given that owners left the
tracts of Soviet-built public housing, each street centuries ago (e.g., Cotton country––the French around 1954,
and Wards that are currently being Street, Moneychangers Street, Silk some Vietnamese during the Ameri-
transformed from what used to be pre- Street). Housing in the Ancient Quar- can War, and Chinese around 1978.
dominantly agriculturally-oriented ter are known as ÔtunnelÕ or ÔtubeÕ Since these units are considered to
Wards, to high-density urban residen- houses, being no more than 2–4 m be abandoned by their owners, the
tial Wards. wide, with depths varying from 20 to government did not nationalise the
Hoàn Kiê´m Lake is the spiritual 60 m. The deterioration of housing units, but rather leases them to na-
centre of Hanoi, and is located in conditions is a function of the insecu- tional or foreign citizens. Policy is in
the centre of the Ancient Quarter in rity of residents in terms of security place to ensure the renovation and
the centre of Hanoi. According to a of tenure. State-ownership of housing restoration of housing units in the
fifteenth century legend, a fisherman discourages tenants from carrying out French Quarter. In this respect, Ha-
from the village of Thanh Hoa by maintenance work. Repairs and noiÕs Land and Housing Office has ta-
name of Le Loi was casting his nets improvements are either undertaken ken responsibility for the restoration
into the lake when he caught, not a with the assistance of HanoiÕs City of the French Quarter, particularly
fish, but a sword. Legend has it that Land and Housing Department, or French villas dating back to the 19th
he used the sword to defeat the occu- are undertaken by residents them- century (Koperdraat and Schenk,
pying Chinese troops. Having made selves, without any external assistance 2001; Parenteau et al., 1995). While a
himself king, he wished to return the (Phe and Nishimura, 2001; Luan, 2001; few hundred buildings have been ren-
holy sword to the lake. As the ceremo- Logan, 1995) (see Figure 5). ovated, over 90% of the transforma-
nial cortege reached the lake, thunder The importance of heritage assets tions have involved a change in
and flashes of lightning emanated such as the Ancient Quarter and Hoàn function, where residential usage has
from the sword. The sword rose from Kiê´m Lake are recognised by HanoiÕs been replaced by commercial, service
its sheath, transformed itself into a planning authorities as being crucial or administrative functions (see Fig-
jade dragon, and dashed into the lake, not only to the maintenance of the ure 6).
thus giving the lake the name ‘‘Lake rich cultural heritage of the city, but Ba D- inh Square, which is located in
of the Returned Sword’’. The area also to the maintenance of interna- Ba D- inh District, to the north-west of
around the lake is a gathering space tional tourism. Conservation of these the Ancient Quarter and to the south
during festivals such as Tet, National ancient areas are reflected in urban of Hô´ Tây (West Lake) demonstrates

City profile: Basil van Horen

Figure 4 The Hanoi metropolitan area.

clearly how changing ideologies of signed Ba D - inh Square, building the the period of Soviet influence, the
successive regimes have been mani- French Governor-GeneralÕs palace French structures were complemented
fested in changes to this area. The and ministry buildings. Under HanoiÕs by a number of Soviet-designed struc-
area was initially part of the ancient socialist government, Ba D- inh Square tures that were erected on the edge of
Royal Citadel before it was demol- was reshaped to reflect the socialist Ba D- inh Square. These included the
ished by the French who then rede- political ideology. Particularly during Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, the Ho

City profile: Basil van Horen

Figure 5 HanoiÕs ancient quarter.

Figure 6 The Hanoi Opera house.

Chi Minh museum, the Lenin statue, Throughout Hanoi, Buddhist pago- lace in the religion. These conditions
the State Assembly Building, the offi- das have retained an important role, also turned some people toward Tao-
ces of the Vietnamese Communist not only as places of worship, but also ism, which experienced a renewal.
Party and the National Assembly and as hospices, retreats and training cen- Taoist temples (den) dot the cultural
State Council Buildings (Logan, tres. They also serve as sites for tradi- landscape, alongside Buddhist pago-
2000). Ba D - inh Square is relatively tional ceremonies and festivals, das. In recent years, religion has re-
safe from redevelopment given its sta- helping to strengthen the solidarity vived, with places of worship being
tus as HanoiÕs monumental zone. of local communities in times of war better attended and religious institu-
Annually, hundreds of thousands of and economic hardship. The decline tions being more significant players
tourists visit the attractive architecture of Confucianism after the end of Chi- in HanoiÕs society and politics. This
located on the edge of Ba D - inh nese rule, allowed a renaissance of has led to the restoration and renova-
Square. Ba D - inh Square will be one Buddhism. Kings and lords built Bud- tion of many churches, pagodas and
of the foci of the 1000-year celebration dhist pagodas, scholars entered temples in Hanoi. Over time, many
of HanoiÕs history in 2010. monastic life, and people sought so- residents of Hanoi have adopted a

City profile: Basil van Horen

syncretic attitude, combining all three Wards on the periphery of Hanoi 1997, the project was scaled back,
doctrines––Confucianism, Buddhism are experiencing the pressures of but plans for construction have now
and Toaism––in a reasonably success- urbanisation. Wards on the northern been reactivated, which will have a
ful synthesis (Logan, 2000; Vien, periphery have undergone rapid trans- major impact on the social and eco-
1993). formation in recent years as increasing nomic fabric of contiguous Wards.
A number of Soviet-style industrial land values have prompted them to (Leaf, 2002, 1999; Phe, 2001; Khue,
zones and residential neighbourhoods convert agricultural land to urban 2001) (See Figure 8.)
were constructed on the periphery of uses. For example, villages of Phu
Hanoi during the 1970s and 1980s. By Thuong, Y^ en Ph u, Quang An, and Key urban issues
1985, nine industrial zones had been Nhat Tan that have long histories of
built on the periphery, each compris- producing flowers and ornamental Political structures of government
ing about 150 state run factories trees (especially for the annual Tet in Hanoi
(Khue, 2001). Linked to the industrial Festival), are all being transformed Government authority at the level of
development, were the development from agricultural land to high-density the municipality of Hanoi is vested in
of Soviet-style residential neighbour- urban areas. Three, four and five sto- two key institutions. The first is the Ha-
hoods in the vicinity of the industrial rey houses are being built in all these noi PeopleÕs Council, which is elected
zones, to accommodate workers from Wards. Adjacent to Wards on the every two years. The PeopleÕs Council
the manufacturing plants and offices. periphery are agricultural fields which in turn elects the Hanoi PeopleÕs Com-
Residential blocks of public housing have long provided the livelihoods for mittee (see Figure 9). In Hanoi, the
were very homogenous in appear- the villagers of the Wards. Contiguous relationship between the Communist
ance, and were organised according to Hô´ Tây (West Lake), are fields Party and the municipal government
to Soviet urban development princi- have recently been designated as the is crucial in that the Communist Party
ples, with living quarters containing site for ‘‘Ciputra West Lake City’’, a is the most critical source of power
four of five-storey walk up public new development which is planned within Vietnamese society. The Com-
housing blocks that were located in to house 80,000 residents when it is munist Party of Vietnam (CPV) com-
close proximity to shops, schools, completed in 15 years time. In 1996, prises two elements. First, the CPV at
and recreation areas (Quang and the Vietnamese government approved the municipal level consists of a party
Kammeier, 2002). Problematic is that a US $2.1 billion project for West bureaucracy that mirrors the bureau-
they were designed for nuclear fami- Lake city. This residential area is cratic structure of local government.
lies, rather than extended families planned around a golf course, with Second, Party Congresses are the for-
which are more common in Hanoi, lavish recreation, hotel and conven- mal means of drawing together Party
resulting in serious space constraints tion facilities, and a series of office members, making decisions on policy
within units. Many of these public and commercial facilities. Being an and plans, and electing members to sit
housing blocks are currently run up-market development, this residen- in the next Party Congress (which are
down, dilapidated and experience tial neighbourhood will target foreign held at provincial, city, district or pre-
serious maintenance problems (see expatriates and some Hanoi residents. cinct, village, township and ward lev-
Figure 7). After the Asian financial crisis of els). In this context, a key issue

Figure 7 Soviet-built public housing block.

City profile: Basil van Horen

Figure 8 Phu Thuong Ward on the periphery of Hanoi adjacent to agricultural land (left) and new housing construction
within the Ward (right).

Figure 9 Current arrangement of Hanoi City Administration Source: HAPI (2004a, 2004b).

City profile: Basil van Horen

concerns leadership. Responsibility for Since the introduction of Doi Moi a view to speeding up administrative
running a major metropolitan area in 1986, Vietnam has shifted away reform, building joint ventures, and
such as Hanoi is often seen as a step- from a command economy structure ensuring cooperation with other con-
ping stone toward significant national toward a more market driven system tiguous regions––all with a view to
level responsibility, either in the Com- in which resource allocation is deter- strengthening the socio-economic and
munist Party, or as a member of gov- mined by a mix of market mechanisms cultural development of Hanoi.
ernment (Forbes and Le Hong Ke, and some state control. The 1990 Mas- Organisationally, the strategic frame-
1996). ter Plan for Hanoi was formulated by work aims to improve horizontal and
Answering to the Hanoi PeopleÕs the National Institute of Urban and vertical coordination among govern-
Committee are the PeopleÕs Commit- Rural Planning in the Ministry of Con- ment departments, and to strengthen
tees of the CityÕs 12 Districts, as illus- struction and the Hanoi Institute of linkages with external agencies
trated in Figure 9. Also reporting to Urban Planning. Gaining endorse- (HAPI, 2004a,b). A significant shift
the Hanoi PeopleÕs Committee are ment of the plan involved extensive with respect to information availabil-
fifteen departments, indicated in the consultation with the Hanoi PeopleÕs ity is the ease with which planning
right column of Figure 9 (HAPI, Council, the Hanoi PeopleÕs Commit- and management documents can now
2004a,b). tee, the Ministry of Construction, be accessed, many of which are now
and the Political Bureau of the Com- available on the internet.
munist Party of Vietnam. The plan In order to develop the city as a
Urban planning in Hanoi emphasised protecting the historic leading business centre, the aim is to
Most political leaders and urban plan- parts of the city, improving the envi- build Hanoi as a centre of wholesale
ners and managers in Vietnam were ronment, allocating new land for hous- market services, exports and as a ser-
educated in Eastern Europe, and have ing construction, and improving vice centre. This will require an
maintained close links with those infrastructure for the reconstruction improvement in product quality, and
countries. During the 1954–1985 peri- of industrial zones (Forbes, 2001; For- strengthening linkages with foreign
od, Hanoi adopted its own version of bes and Le Hong Ke, 1996). In 1992, markets with a view to stimulating ex-
a centrally planned economy, follow- the government enacted Decree 91 ports. HanoiÕs economic achievements
ing the Soviet model. Planning in- with a view to improving plan imple- over the past five years have been
volved allocating resources into mentation under a market-oriented impressive. HanoiÕs contribution to
national priorities including rapid economy. The five-stage Soviet plan- national GDP over the past five years
industrialisation, with a commitment ning process was replaced by a two- has been 10.2%, while the average an-
to set up a system based on state- stage process, comprising only two nual economic growth rate has been
owned enterprises and collectives plans: Master Plans and Detailed 6.7% in the rest of the country. For-
(Quang and Kammeier, 2002). Re- Plans. Master Plans were prepared eign direct investment is becoming
sources were consequently allocated for periods of 15–20 years, with up- increasingly important for HanoiÕs
according to plan directives rather dates every five years. Detailed Plans economy. By the end of 1999, Hanoi
than market demand, resulting in seri- were formulated in accordance with had benefited from total investment
ous market failures. The 1970s Master the Master Plan (Quang and Kamme- capital of US $8.64 billion––amount-
Plan for Hanoi was drafted at the ier, 2002). ing to 24% of total FDI flows into
Leningrad Scientific Research Centre In the last three years, planning in the country. The aim is to achieve
for Urban Planning and Construction Hanoi has reflected a significant shift US $7 billion in exports by 2010. Ha-
in the Soviet Union. However, the away from old-style Master Planning noi has constructed five new industrial
plan was never implemented because to a Strategic Planning approach. zones in three outer districts (Gia
it was designed on an overly ambitious The shift is evident in the Strategic Lâm, Sóc Són and D - ông Anh), all
scale, required much more land than Framework for Socio-economic equipped with modern infrastructure
was available, and had the characteris- Development for Hanoi for the period and technology (Nguyen and Amin,
tics of a Soviet planning style that 2001–2010, formulated by the Hanoi 2002; Mai, 2002). One of the implica-
indicated a lack of familiarity with Authority for Planning and Invest- tions of increasing linkages with for-
economic conditions and the social ment. The aim of this framework is eign markets has been a reduction in
fabric of Hanoi (Forbes and Le Hong to strengthen planning development the role of central government, and
Ke, 1996). Until 1990, the top-down strategies, investment cooperation the development of more localised
planning process followed a Soviet and the coordination of socio-eco- power structures (Dixon and Kilgour,
model, with five types of plans: (1) nomic development in the northern 2002; Smith and Scarpaci, 2001). Also,
economic––technical feasibility study; region, of which Hanoi is the centre. stronger and more effective legal and
(2) general plan; (3) development plan administrative reforms are necessary
for the first stage of implementation; for the reform to keep up its current
(4) a detailed implementation plan; Urban management of Hanoi momentum (Han and Baumgarte,
(5) an execution plan. It is important Implementation of the Strategic Plan 2000). At the local government level,
to note that information in respect of requires the active collaboration be- budget formulation for Hanoi is
Master Plans for Hanoi was inaccessi- tween HanoiÕs authorities and govern- implemented so that taxation revenue
ble until the late 1980s (Forbes, 1995). ment ministries and departments with is collected by the Hanoi administra-

City profile: Basil van Horen

tion on behalf of government. Taxes consequence of Doi Moi policies. telecommunications system by 2010,
are passed on to central government, After 1986, industrial zones located involving upgrading of the existing
which then allocates up to 2/3 of col- on the peri-urban regions emerged, system and building a new transmis-
lected taxes back Hanoi (Government resulting in irregular expansion into sion system. Hanoi also aims to reach
of Vietnam, 2004). suburban villages. Due to the expan- 36 telephones per 100 persons by
An implication of the rapid eco- sion of the city centre, and the devel- 2010 (HAPI, 2004a,b).
nomic growth in Hanoi has been a opment of peri-urban industrial Regarding water supply and drain-
notable improvement in residentsÕ so- zones, there have been a number of age, the aim is to improve water qual-
cial conditions. In 2003, HanoiÕs hu- impacts on the cityÕs spatial structure. ity available to Hanoi residents,
man development index was 0.798, First, there has been a diversification including the construction of new
which was the highest in Vietnam. In of housing types and settlement pat- water supply factories, expanding the
order to support economic develop- terns. Single storey housing is water supply system, especially to sub-
ment, attention is directed in the Stra- increasingly being replaced by two urban Districts. To deal with the fact
tegic Plan toward building a strong to five storey housing (Quang and that parts of the city are susceptible
knowledge and skills base. This in- Kammeier, 2002). Suburban districts to regular flooding, the intention is to
volves strengthening human re- that used to have a strong agricul- improve rivers, drainage channels,
sources, including the capacity of tural economic base have been trans- and drainage systems. The local gov-
City and District level civil servants formed into high density urban areas, ernment will install a new drainage
by 2005 and down to the communal le- as landowners have realised that system for areas that are currently
vel by 2010. Vocational training strat- increasing land values provide an not properly served, and also con-
egies are being implemented, and the opportunity for income generation struct a waste water treatment station
labour force is being restructured by (Leaf, 1999, 2002). The linkage be- for all parts of Hanoi by 2010 (Gov-
increasing levels of university, college tween industrial and residential link- ernment of Vietnam, 2004; HAPI,
and vocational training for workers. ages has broken down whereby 2004a,b).
Scientists, business managers and residential development is shifting to- The aim is to increase housing
technicians skill levels are also being ward vacant land inside old villages floor space in Hanoi by 13 million
enhanced with a view to diversifying and what used to be peri-urban areas square metres by 2010. The average
and improving the quality of their where land is less expensive, which living space was 5.5 m2 per person
skills base (HAPI, 2004a,b). are spatially disconnected from in 2000, and the aim is to increase
Related to the building of human industrial zones. Finally, commercial this to 8.0 m2 by 2010. Local govern-
capital, there is a strong focus on pre- development in the central area has ment aims to reduce dangerous and
ventative health care in Hanoi, and grown rapidly, but increasing density dilapidated apartments in Hanoi, with
implementation of community level in central areas has led to overcrowd- a view to ensuring satisfactory shelter
healthcare programs. The strategy ing, traffic congestion, loss of open for residents (HAPI, 2004a,b). Subsi-
aims to reduce the percentage of mal- space and damage to some of Ha- dised housing has been abandoned
nourished children to below 10% by noiÕs heritage buildings (Logan, and replaced with a new market-ori-
2010, increase household access to 1995). ented system of housing supply (see
clean water and health services Hanoi is linked to other parts of the Figure 10). Housing production is
to 100% by 2010. Hanoi intends to country via an efficient transportation now characterised by state sponsored
implement social insurance, a health and communication system. It is possi- businesses, private, welfare and infor-
insurance policy (especially for elderly ble to fly from Noi Bai airport to inter- mal housing construction. Self-con-
people, children and low income national destinations or from Gia structed housing by the private and
households), and ensure close coordi- Lam, Bach Mai and Hoa Lac airports informal sectors is becoming increas-
nation between modern health care to domestic destinations. Hanoi is a ingly significant, and has created
services and traditional medicine railway junction for both domestic diversity in the quality, scale and cost
(HAPI, 2004a,b). and international rail throughout of housing (Phe, 2002; Boothroyd and
HanoiÕs urban management struc- Vietnam, and to neighbouring coun- Nam, 2000). There are 1600 illegal
ture was organised into a set of spa- tries including China. Regarding road dwellings in Hanoi (Forbes, 2001).
tial units. The municipality is divided transportation, the aim of the Strate- While informal settlements and ille-
into Districts (huyen) and urban pre- gic Plan is to upgrade existing roads, gal squatting is an embryonic prob-
cincts (quan). City precincts are di- and to construct three circular ring lem in Hanoi, it is important that
vided into Wards (phuong). Wards roads through Hanoi, as well as new mechanisms be put in place to ensure
are divided into neighbourhoods bridges across the Sông Hô´ng (Red that the problem does not get out of
known as cum. The rural districts River). This will address the increas- control, as it has in many other Asian
surrounding the municipality are di- ing pressure on HanoiÕs transport cities (Harnois, 2001; Evertsz, 2001).
vided into villages (xa), townships infrastructure, which is very congested In this context, what still needs to
(thi xa) and some towns (thi thran) by large numbers of motorcycles and be put in place is a management sys-
(Forbes, 2001; Forbes and Le Hong cyclists, and where many cyclists often tem to guide this spontaneous hous-
Ke, 1996). The spatial structure of ignore traffic regulations (Forbes, ing construction process. Without
Hanoi has been transformed as a 2001). Hanoi aims to build a modern this, there are few mechanisms in

City profile: Basil van Horen

Figure 10 New housing construction in the old quarter (left) and in a suburban district (right).

place to ensure satisfactory construc- planning and urban management was Institute of Southeast Asian Studies,
tion quality or adherence to building largely inaccessible, to a more Strate- Singapore.
standards and regulations (Luan, gic approach to planning and urban Government of Vietnam (2004) Hanoi.
2001; Phe, 2001). management which is impacting posi- mation/index.htm (accessed September
Finally, the strategic framework tively on the future planning and man- 2004).
aims to promote the non-material cul- agement of the Hanoi metropolitan Han, V X and Baumgarte, R (2000)
ture of Hanoi residents. The aim is to area. Economic reform, private sector devel-
opment and the business environment in
promote participation in sports, im- Viet Nam. Comparative Economic
prove health care and promote lon- Studies XLII(3), 1–30.
gevity for residents. The strategy Hanoi Authority for Planning and Invest-
Acknowledgements ment (2004a) Hanoi-capital of the Socialist
aims to ensure that Hanoi remains a
safe, stable metropolitan area, retain- Many thanks to Professor Do Hau Republic of Vietnam. http://www.hapi. (accessed Septem-
ing high levels of security and social from Hanoi Architectural University ber 2004).
order (HAPI, 2004a,b). and an anonymous referee, for helpful Hanoi Authority for Planning and Invest-
comments in respect of an earlier ver- ment (2004b) Hanoi PeopleÕs Committee:
sion of this paper. Any errors are my Socio-economic development strategic
Concluding comment own. plan of Hanoi 2001–2010. http://www. (accessed Sep-
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