Every year the Vertical Cities Asia (VCA) competition asks selected international architecture schools to make a design for 1 square kilometer for a specific Asian city. The site has to contain a density of 100.000 people. Every year VCA welcomes different radical architecture proposals, which all end up being similarly shiny and vague, ignoring the real issues of today's Asian cities.
VCA 2013 chose Hanoi to be a test field for the "future city". Our team from TU Delft decided to ignore the brief and to create a large scale urban strategy that would potentially help Hanoi to cope with its current issues.
...Hanoi is one of the cities that absorbs the rapid urbanization of Vietnam. It is at the forefront of the change towards an urban society. Hanoi faces extreme traffic congestion, air and water pollution, insufficient infrastructure and too much expensive housing that sprawls in the immediate hinterland. Hanoi is also an unbelievably energetic, adaptive and innovative city, with interesting architectrure. We want to harness Hanoi's resources for a vision for 2050.
The competition brief asks for a high density cluster at, or even over the edge of the city, beyond the 4th ring road. We think that for any urbanism proposal to be successful, it needs to address Hanoi's combination of needs by absorbing pressure at various points in the region, creating a network of new developments that look 30 years into the future rather than at the next property bubble. Ultimately, any plan must enable the growth of Hanoi from a city of 3 mililon to a metropolitan region of 11 million.
Hanoi is surrounded by agricultural land, but the concept of 'harvesting' needs to be extended beyond the production of food. For Hanoi, 'Harvesting' applies to essentially every resource - from food to energy to education to transportation - that is required, consumed, and produced by the city. This idea requires a masterplan for the entire region that looks not just at the idea of "everyone harvests" but of everything.
The VCA site is characterized by traditional Vietnamese villages (above), agricultural landscapes and new urban developments. A 150 meter wide highway cuts though the site, connecting the center of Hanoi with the planned University City, Hoa Lac. Adjecent villages maintain their cultural richness and communal ties even as they undergo their own building boom.
Where development has taken place, it consists predominantly of unfinished large villas and high-end condo's and row housing. Vietnam now faces oversupply of high end real estate at the same time as having a severe shortage of affordable housing.
It was the sight of eerie ghost towns, uncultivated land and protesting rice farmers, suffering from the expropriation of their agricultural land, which we encountered during our visit to the site in March 2013.
Based on the experience we gained through the site visits and a 12-week research period, we defined a set of issues that need to be addressed in their intertwined complexity. A single new development would not be sufficient to cover them...
MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING. The municipal area of Hanoi currently holds an inventory of 5,780 empty apartments, hundreds of villas and townhouses and an estimate of fallow plots totalling 300,000 ha. At the same time 54% of Hanoi's population has an immediate need for housing, equaling 1.8 million inhabitants. While Vietnam has some of most expensibe land prices in the world, ranked 20th, average income is ranked 120th in the world.
MODERNIZED AGRICULTURE. While agricultural production contributes 20% to the annual GDP, 48% of the population continuess to be employed in the sector. As plots remain small, around 360m2, use of mechanization is rare. Some farmers use animals such as buffalo, while few use small tractors, often shared between several farmers households. Most of the farmers cultivate their land in the traditional labor intensive way.
SCOOTER ALTERNATIVES. Vietnam's current mobility infrastructure is inadequate to meet the rapidly growing demands placed upon it. While the density of Vietnam's road network is higher than in other South-East Asian countries, the quality of infrastructure in Vietnam was ranked 119th out of 144 countries in 2012. The number of motorcycles in Vietnam has exploded from 18.3 per 1,000 people in 1990 to 223.4 units per 1,000 people in 2006, when 95% of all registered vehicles are motorcycles.
MOBILITY. The traditional market system prevails in Hanoi. Food supply and distribution activities are an important sourse of income, particulary for poor urban households and seasonal migrants.
CLEAN ENERGY. In 2005, EVN (Electricity of Vietnam) reported that 2 million households, 12% of the country, had no access to electricity. As energy consumption increases in tandem with economic growth, Vietnam stopped exporting energy, particulary fossil fuels, in 2010. Energy demands annually increase by 17%, due to the supply shortages of electricity in rural areas. To meet the demands, energy imports, predominantly from China and Laos, are annually growing. Alternative and renewalble energy sourses, hence, have the potential to play an increasingly important role in Vietnam.
The goal of this project is firstly to learn from the people of Vietnam: analyze their identity in urban life, housing, culture, etc. and thus find possible tools that would help us solve the existing issues of today's Hanoi.
We launched our work not by starting from scratch, but by studying the regional masterplan already in place for Hanoi, designed by the American and Korean consortium Posco-Perkins and Eastman-Jina (PPJ) in 2008.
To relieve pressure on central Hanoi, Perkins Eastman proposed a series of satellite cities, which locations are based on geotechnical and environmental studies, focussing on flood security and agricultural land preservation. According to Paul Buchhurst of Perkins Eastman, certain components were not studies: a financial or energy plan to support the sustainable growth of the cities, and aspects such as Vietnamese urban life, housing and cultural specificities.
Following Perkins Eastman's design strategy of using satellite cities to absorb a population increase of 11 million by 2050, the goal of our masterplan is to support Hanoi's urban and economic expansion through an extensive infrastructural network, allowing for a maximum of agricultural land to be preserved. The masterplan proposes a hierarchy of networks, complementing existing infrastructure with new ways of connecting the center of Hanoi with its satellite cities.
The masterplan further extends the Chinese high speed train network into Vietnam, placing Hanoi as a hub for South-East Asia. The densification of the urban expansion areas, as proposed by Perkins Eastman, discourages urban sprawl and sustains the agricultural land. Along main transport arteries, we propose a duality of regional industrialization and agricultural activity.
Hanoi metropolitan region has highly productive industrial zones. The network between Hanoi and its surrounding cities, like Hai Duong and Hai Phong (third largest city in Vietnam and most important seaport) is undeveloped, although it has big potential.
The agricultural network proposes to increase agricultural productivity by means of diversivication and modernization of techniques. Traditional agriculture, maintained within Perkins Easman's green belt, is complemented with highly productive and 'smart-tech' agricultural zones, located along train lines, main roads and waterways linking Hanoi with the main ports.
Trains and ships passing the smart-tech agricultural zone.
The proposed transport network extends existing infrastructure, connecting the industrial and agricultural productivity zones of the Red River Delta. The creation of satellite towns will increase the need for a multylayered public transport system.
To compete with the popularity of the scooter, wich comes from its inherent freedom and flexibility, the mobility network proposes a supplementing system of Metro, Light Rail, Inter City and High speed trains. The places with multiple transport layers will create transit hubs, which will naturally generate the developments around it.
The main energy of today's Vietnam is coal. The fact that population in Vietnam will rise rapidly in the upcoming 30 years also means that the energy consumption will increase dramatically. Vietnam has to find alternative energy sources to suffice the needs to its people and to become an independent country (mainly from China). The analysis showed that Vietnam contains wind, geothermal, biomass, solar hydro and nuclear resources.
We propose an energy network that extends the existing and planned power plant grid.
Considering agricultural and industrial zones, we define strategic locations for renewable energy plants, such as wind parks and solar fields, efficient in production, storage and transportation.
As a starting point for every aspect of the new cities, we use shared design tools: an 21st century edit of traditional Vietnamese housing typologies; an "ideal" neighborhood cluster of facilities; an economic model for major urban development. The tools derive from our research into Hanoi's culture and built environment. The proposed satellite cities: Hub Agricultural, University and Airport cities, use the tools appropriate to their individual needs, for example, University City develops traditional tube housing into student housing.
Before designing the cities we analyzed the common housing typologies found in Vietnam, such as KTT and Tubehouses. Today these shelters contain multiple architectural issues and hardly meet the needs of Vietnamese families. By keeping the traditional elements and spatial characteristics, we were able to introduce these houses into the improved typologies.
The 'Ideal cluster' is a neighborhood that has all necessary facilities (retail, culture, education, office, healthcare, recreation, parks) within an easily walkable 400-meter radius. The cluster provides a live/work environment of 50,000 inhabitants, consequently creating a density of 100,000 people per km2. The 'ideal cluster' has a grid based on the dimensions and performance of the most walkable city grids in world: Portland and Melbourne. We take it not as a given, but as a point that ensures a good programmatic mix in every area of a city.
We created the ideal program bar, which could be used to accomodate 50,000 people living and working within the 400-meter radius. This program mix will be adjusted depending on the characteristics of the designed cities.
The typical development model in Vietnam creates developer and investor originated speculation. It displaces farmers and creates exorbitantly expensive property that remains uninhabited in the rare cases where it is fully completed. Long term cycles of public and private ownership and investment in infrastructure could be used as a new financial model to develop the Vietnamese cities.
Hub city addresses two pressing needs for Hanoi 2050: a transit station for the extended public transport system and the densification of Hanoi's expansion towards the west. With the aim of accomodating an additional 1.5 million inhabitants by 2050, development planned by Perkins Eastman between the 3rd and 4rd ring roads needs to densify towards the city center to mitigate sprawl into agricultural lands. Hub city is an infrastructural node where metro, intercity, high speed and commuter trains converge.
Complying with the VCA density requirements of 100,000 inhabitants per km2, Hub city will occupy a 6km2 area 5km east of the VCA site. The location is strategically positioned on the path of the existing rail network between the Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi's commercial center, and the city's expansion area, as planned by Perkins Eastman.
Hub City is Hanoi's infrastructural focal point in which travellers and commuters from the city center, the satellites cities and abroad meet. The station will stimulate business and commercial development within Hanoi, while creating regional connections to South-East Asia. It will be a catalyst for the emergence of a dense city clusterd around it - a new urban center for Hanoi.
Drawing inspiration from the surrounding villages and Hanoi's existing urban fabric, Hub City incorporates vernacular urban structures. We propose block typologies in which large scale developments embrace small scale informal parceling, fostering the Do-It-Yourself practice of augmenting individual housing - a key quality of Hanoi that we want to maintain.
Shortcut routes through the inner courtyards of the hybrid bloc create improve secundairy connections mainly for pedestrians.
The block is the merger of the old and new Vietnam.
Instead of designing 1km2 we proposed a strategy called "Harvesting Cities", which is based on comprehensive research on Hanoi and Vietnam in general. Thus we designed 4 cities: Hub, Agricultural, University and Airport cities, which would cope with the issues of 2050's Hanoi. It is not surprising that our project was not taken in considderation, for ignoring the brief. Most importantly the project changed the rules of the remaining VCA competitions: the teams are encouraged to choose the site themselfs and design more strategically.
The brief of the last 3 years of the competition.
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