9. Comparison of green space planning of the Ancient Quarter and Linh Dam: Part I

The urban fabric of the Ancient Quarter in Hanoi was greatly influenced by France during the French occupation from 1873 to 1951, neglecting the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1942. The urban planning shows the featuring characteristics of Baron Haussmann’s plan from 1853 to 1870 in Paris. Baron Haussmann’s idea aims to modernise the city so as to tackle the overcrowding problem due to rapidly rising population growth in Paris. [1] Wide boulevards that allows the segregation of pedestrians and transports were built within symmetrical radial systems. The centre of the radial system were landmarks that is significant to the city, such as Arc de Triomphe. As a French colony, the urban fabric of Hanoi was implanted with strong French style, where wide boulevards can be found but landmarks at the radial centre of the road systems were replaced by lakes such as Ho Hoan Kiem. It is suspected that churches and monuments were not chosen as the radial centres because the French government did not want to glorify the inferior Vietnam power. Instead, the palace were put aside to the ancient quarter to show respect to the local power under the colonial context.

Master plans of urban planning before the Garden City Movement in 1898 often showed a segregation between town and city. Therefore, the urban planning of the ancient quarter did not merge in green space into urban blocks. The only landscape features in the urban centre were the lakes. Considering the abundance of rural lands in 1873 as shown in figure 1, the  negligence of green space in urban area is understandable.


Fig.1 Map of Hanoi in 1873

Image source: Phong Đặng, Thăng Long-Hanoi: The Story in a Single Street, (Hanoi: Knowledge Publishing House, 2010), 65.


Although the silhouette of the urban fabric remains similar today, the building density within blocks increases dramatically with the implementation of ‘Ordinance on Housing’ in 1991. [3]. Individuals are granted the right to own a house. After the ‘Land Law’ in 1993, the official land market even people gave the right to own a land-use. [2] Referring to figure 2, the compact built fabric of the ancient quarter shows the lack of open and green public spaces. The green spaces are concentrated at the Ho Hoan Kiem area. It is challenging to add green features within the fully urbanised inner-core areas that does not reserved land for this purpose when planning. [3]

Fig.2  Satellite image of the ancient quarter

Image Source: Google Maps. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://www.google.com/maps.


Linh Dam, being one of the first New Urban Areas (NUA) developed in Vietnam after a series of land reforms following Doi Moi in 1986, shows contrasting degree of consideration of green public spaces in planning. As shown in figure 3, the NUA is surrounded by Ho Linh Dam. High-rise residential buildings are built to meet up the demand of housing and to reserve abundant green spaces near the complexes. Figure 4 shows the current road situation where landscape features are programmed orderly with the commercial activities and traffic, which were blurry in the planning of the ancient quarter.

Fig. 3 Satellite image of Linh Dam

Image Source: Google Maps. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://www.google.com/maps.

Fig. 4 Road situation in Linh Dam

Image Source: Google Maps. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://www.google.com/maps.



1. Michel Carmona and Patrick Camiller. Haussmann: His Life and Times, and the Making of Modern Paris, (Chicago : I. R. Dee, 2002), 157.

2. S. J. L. Geertman, The self-organizing city in Vietnam: processes of change and transformation in housing in Hanoi, (Eindhoven: Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, 2007), 184.

3. Hoang Huu Phe, Housing and Urban Form in Vietnam: A Study of Home Improvement among Owner Occupiers in Central Hanoi, (London: PhD thesis University College London, 1997), 112.


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