7. Difference in Street Life Between Hanoi’s outskirt and Ancient Quarters

Street life in outskirt of Hanoi and Ancient Quarters in Hanoi are really different in terms of the human livelihood and interaction of the community. In short, the street of Hanoi’s outskirt especially the new town area has a definite difference between pavement and sidewalk, with an increasing phenomenon of glass shop front. While for within the Ancient Quarters, the difference between pavement and sidewalk is much blur, with open shopfront in each individual shop house. The difference might be small between the two areas, yet such small difference had led to a huge difference in street life of the areas. In addition, such also signified a difference in development direction between state planned and Hanoi self-initiated. That is a clean, inward isolated development direction, and a community social life direction.

Fig. 1 shopfront with closed glass panels
Fig.2 Shopping mall interior

At the new town area, planned by the state according Hanoi People’s Committee. The town is developed around six key aspects. That is effective urban management, social welfare, national economy growth, international centre establishment and human welfare. This consideration is reflected in the street in few ways, first of the definite distinguish between road and sidewalk reflect the need of order and effective urban management, which results a fluent traffic and a natural traffic barrier between different streets. As traffic level increased, production of air pollution also increases. As a result, shopfront no longer opens but closed with a glass façade, as to separate the clean indoor air from the polluted outdoor air, such reflects the consideration of health and welfare. Yet, such consideration is achieved with a trade off from the consideration of social welfare. Hence, to tackle the need sociable spaces, large department stores and shopping malls come by. With adequate design, this type of large malls can provide the city with desirable indoor, non-polluted social spaces. However, at the same time they are just chunk of large blocks that isolates from the street and from each other.

Fig. 3 Street life in Ancient Quarter
Fig. 4 Common cooking stove in Ancient Quarter’s street

On the other hand, in Ancient Quarter, the difference between roads and sidewalks are blurred with traditional commerce happens everywhere along the street. As a result, the street no longer shared by traffic and pedestrian only, but it acts as a social meeting place, where urban social life exists. Residents can do their groceries without leaving their vehicle, children will treat the sidewalk as playground and play along the street. Adults will treat sidewalk as common space for private or household activities. Shopfront will always be opened during the day, where shopkeeper and commoners will have a nice conversation, even though no business is involved. Portable coal-fired stoves will appear everywhere around the street as a kitchen to most household, giving many apartments in Ancient Quarter do not have a proper kitchen facility. In the end, it can be observed that the street had become the common space of the shopkeepers and the residents, it become a social platform for the people, and lower the priority of functioning as a circulation routes.

In conclusion, merely from the street life of Hanoi outskirt reflects the consideration of order and effective urban planning, yet it sacrifice vibrant interactive social life of the traditional streets where Ancient Quarter holds onto.


Laing, R. D. “Hanoi-a city in transition.” 28-44.

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