Hanoi/ Housing System in the Urban Plans

From 1981 to 1992, there were two subsequent adjustments on the urban planning systems influenced by economic difficulties and reforms. Before 1986, Vietnamese architects and engineers graduated from socialist countries constituted the Ministry of Construction but it was the expert group from the Soviet Union who directly led the making of the General Plan of 1981. However, the economic conditions gave very limited resources to implement the plan even after readjustment in 1984. The adjusted plan was set as background for implementation of development until the new Gneral Plan in 1992. Based on the Law on urban planning of 1992, the Ministry of Construction prescribed dossiers and took the prime responsibility for the planning while The People’s Committes  organized planning. In the new plan, the total area of urban land was expected to grow 12,000 hectares from 7,600 – 9,000 hectares.

Land use plans of Hanoi in 1983 and in 1996 ( Narumi, 2004)
Land use plans of Hanoi in 1983 and in 1996 ( Narumi, 2004)

The expected urban sprawl encouraged the rapid growth of housing area which was one of the goals of government to satisfy the needs of housing. But the mapping of 1996 told us the unplanned urban area was the main contributor to the surburbanization. It was presented as post-reform housing privately built by Hanoi households and the architectural style drew on the historical forms of the Ancient Quarter, which we could regard it as the horizontal expansion of the 5- storey-height informal housing in the same fragmented scale of development. The fragmented development quickly built the large-scale livelihoods on the fringe of the city but the five-storey housing built with people’s own capital had a limited ability to accommodate the large ever-growing population and lacked appropriate infrastructure.

During the same period, the old formal subsidy housing were limited in their original footprints given up by the new policies and the new planning housing area was scattered and powerless surrounded by the unplanned one. The informalized expansion of the KTT housing was only able to expand to their surrounding public space with small-scale influence on households compared to the informal housing.

(Pandolfi, 2001)
(Pandolfi, 2001)


In the overall housing development, the decentralization became the main tendency. It was mainly reflected on the expanded footprint of informal housing built by private capitals and it showed the desires on the outdated formal housing at the same time. From high-level political control with manipulative tolerance to the completely loosened environment, the contradiction and changing balance between informality and formality unveiled the socio-political contradictions and duality of the socialist city. Based on the study of housing, a key urban space, the theory of abstract relationships between space and politics, between the macro and micro, between the utilizer and users proposed by Heneri Lefebvre could be checked and applied in the contexts of Hanoi.


  1. Labbé, D. (2014). Land Politics and Livelihoods on the Margins of Hanoi, 1920-2010. UBC Press.Narumi, K., Kato, D. and
  2. Nguyen, C. H. (2004) Land-use Change by Urbanization of Hanoi city : After the Adoption of Doi-Moi Policy. Osaka University Knowledge Archive.
  3. Pandolfi, l. (2001), ‘Une terre sans prix: réforme foncière et urbanisation au Viêt-Nam, Hanoi,
    1986–2000’ (unpublished PhD thesis), Paris, Université Paris VIII.
  4. The National Assembly(1992). Law On Urban Planning under Resolution No. 51/2001/QH10.

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