Hanoi/ Beginning with Socialist Housing

Hanoi is the kind of city where different layers of urban ideas and influences overlap. In addition to its traditional pragmatism and colonial grandeur, soviet socialist influences was an important element woven into its rich architectural fabrics.

Since 1954, a great number of state-sponsored housing programs have been proposed in Vietnam. That was the stage Vietnam just gained independence from French and the Soviets exported its strategies of planning and architecture into the new socialist state, especially in Hanoi. The new housing program was mainly an adaptation of the Soviet microrayon or called micro district. Microrayon is a physical form to reflect the differences between a socialist society and a capitalist society in mass housing, as a variation of the CIAM/Radiant City-inspired models in the 1950s. One mass housing unit is equipped with shared social and cultural institutions like schools and daycare centers as well as parks and green spaces, so the inhabitants can be connected in this organic unity. It aims at providing good-quality housing for all citizens with a minimum land use and infrastructure costs.

The local application of this Soviet urban idea in Hanoi is called Khu Tap The (KTT) or literally ‘the collective’. Their architectural expression was mainly five-story-high walk-up, medium sized apartment complexes primarily built on the city’s peripheral ring road. And these housing projects carried a belief that ‘a new urban environment would itself create a new society’. However due to the insufficient supply of residence, poverty of materials and workmanship and poor interior qualities in the aspect of ventilation and lighting, the KTT housing became an unsuccessful example of directly imposing foreign housing models and norms in new local circumstances. Over time, these formal housing have been informal and adopted by the inhabitants based on their needs and everyday practices.


Microrayon (Isotropic System, 2010)
Microrayon (Isotropic System, 2010)
KTTs in Hanoi (Emmanuel, 2010)
KTTs in Hanoi (Emmanuel, 2010)


  1. Emmanuel Cerise and Kelly Shannon (2010). Informalization of Formal Housing / Formalization of Informal Housing.
  2. Frolic, B. M. (1964). The Soviet City. Town Planning Review, 34(4), 285.
  3. Ha Van Que (2000). The Changing Ideologies Basis of Planning Practices in Hanoi, Vietnam. Deakin University.
  4. William S. Logan (2000). Hanoi: Biography of a City. Seattle: University of Washington Press
  5. Isotropic System. Retrived on October 14, 2010at http://greatersp.blogspot.hk/2010/10/every-day-life.html.

1 Comment on “Hanoi/ Beginning with Socialist Housing

  1. It is very interesting to look at both vernacular architecture and social housing under a certain reign of authoritative power, as well as the violation of such regulations by the locals. Historical documentation and the bibliography on what happened/ the event that triggered such phenomenons would be needed to support the narratives.

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