1. The society with two governing policies

Hanoi’s Ancient Quarter and Linh Dam, one of the new town areas, have both developed over the past two decades, and presented as an outcome of two individual governing thoughts. The Ancient Quarter is developed heavily around the governing ideology to “do nothing that goes against nature fields”. A thought with minimal state interference, and let the city developed by the course of events naturally. On the other hand, Linh Dam as one of the new town areas, it is developed under detailed urban planning. A opposite to the governing method ran in Ancient Quarter, one with well-planned facilities, infrastructure, housing and estimated outcomes.

Due to the conflicting nature of the two-governing method, Ancient Quarter and Linh Dam have both developed a respective system of traffic, housing, informal spaces, green spaces and all the other elements that contributes to the mechanism of a working society. In which, with such difference in their respective elements, their infrastructural outcome, or housing outcome have result an interesting phenomenon of complementary. For instance, the pros of the housing typology in Ancient Quarter can be a solution to the cons and problems Linh Dam public housing is facing, or the organized traffic of Linh Dam might be something that should be learned and used with the Ancient Quarter area. In studying Hanoi, a city with two conflicting, yet complementary governing policies, it would allow us to understand the pros and cons of minimal governing and heavy governing.

Before the discussions of the conflicting elements, this blog will first have a brief introduction to the two governing ideologies. First, the ideology of “governing by doing nothing that goes against nature” is to run the society naturally, to emulate nature and not having top down approaches that are not spontaneous by the people themselves. It is old concept based in ancient china, where rulers govern his people with virtue, and act more as a supervisor than a voiced government. This harmony established between laissez-faire and autocracy, minimized the possibility of alienated influential act or policies, and hence slows down the paced of the city’s development. However, such ideology does not eliminate the possibility of significant society reform. For instance, in our case, factors like influential school of thoughts raise during different periods, foreign implications, or even surrounding responds to new local policies can cause reformation or big development to our study area, the Ancient Quarter.

On the other hand, opposing the idea to “emulate nature” is to have everything organized and well thought out by urban planners or government. The approach allows government to have detail planning with clear scopes and objectives, with factor such as public life, sociable space, recreation, history and heritage well thought out during the process planning. Yet, as a top down approach, estimation of outcomes and problems is also needed as to achieve the desirable results. In addition, in our case the consideration and approach made available to Linh Dam is very really similar to today’s international style, and the process of modernism development. In other terms, it seems like the town area is developed with reference to garden cities, contemporary city and radiant cities. Urban planning with traffic embraced, social welfare considered, and housing subsidies.  This allows government to predicts the outcome easily, yet also demolished the vast variety of fruitfulness elements that Ancient Quarter is giving right now.


Bäckman, Mikael, and Maria Rundqvist. “Sociable space in a City of Life: the case of Hanoi.” (2005). 36-40.

Ebenezer Howard, Garden Cities of To-morrow (London: Faber, 1974; original 1898) pp. 29-57.

He, Henry. Dictionary of the Political Thought of the People’s Republic of China. Routledge, 2016, 90-92.

Le Corbusier, “A Contemporary City,” The City of To-morrow and its Planning (New York: Dover, 1987; original French Translation Urbanisme, 1925)

Lin, Cheng, Terry Peach, and Wang Fang, eds. The History of Ancient Chinese Economic Thought. Vol. 163. Routledge, 2014, 92-93.

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