VietNamNet Bridge – Former dean of the Ha Noi Architecture University, Professor Tran Trong Hanh, told Dai Doan ket (Great Solidarity) newspaper that culture was as important as infrastructure in a plan for Ha Noi.
The Ha Noi Masterplan for 2030 with a vision to 2050 was produced last year. What is your assessment of the project?
The project was intended to provide a plan to develop a monumental capital city. But what it offered was merely big physically and it has yet taken cultural factors into account. Ha Noi has developed over 1,000 years.
Its culture has been built over generation after generation, and it has been shaped by the resistance to foreign invasion. We should not indulge in illusions to build a great project within 20 years based on such a simple master plan.
What do you mean by using the term ‘simple master plan'?
The master plan was ‘drafted' over a short time but it dealt with an extremely grandiose issue. Under the project, Ha Noi would need 34,000ha of land to develop.
It would cost about US$160 billion to invest in the hundreds of projects and key works. By then, the city would be three or four times larger than it is currently.
It was done in a too short time to take development related factors, particularly population pressures and culture into account. It would waste money and cause problems if a key aspect of the city was demolished.
How can we correct a fault if shortcomings exist in the development of the new city? In my opinion, the master plan presided over by the Ministry of Construction is like a picture to contemplate rather than to manage and turn into reality.
The master plan was done in a rush to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi. It doesn't have any real use value, especially for a capital city of historical depth like Ha Noi.
What does the master plan need the most?
The current master plan needs a methodical and drastic revision. The face of the capital city will be deformed overnight if all the projects suggested are built.
What is your view of Ha Noi's architecture?
The capital city is teeming with houses and buildings of different architecture styles if you view it from above. People with a lot of money have built big houses or big buildings.
Others with less money have built smaller ones. Patchy houses and buildings have been built by people with more or less money. Everyone has built whatever they like, and there isn't a proper style or harmony in the capital city's architecture.
Ha Noi has had a thousand years of development, but it still remains a site under construction. Electricity wires are entangled; super thin houses are still mushrooming. It is undeniable that the city looks beautiful in some locations, but the overall impression is of disorder and chaos.
People must think they'll resolve these problems through the implementation of the master plan surely?
The plan is regrettably far from reality, it makes out that it is possible to use an eraser to wipe out old strokes in order to sketch a dreamlike city through sustainable development.
It should have taken reality more into account and resolved issues relating to huge current population and the cultural values embedded in the city.
Moreover, it is impossible to separate the nerve-centre of the capital city from the current centre.
What are the consequences of an unrealistic master plan?
It will cause economic and social losses. If a project is suspended it will be a waste of knowledge, time and money. People living in areas with suspended projects will also be unhappy.
Many people have benefited from the property bubble in the area around Ba Vi which saw land prices increasing unexpectedly while others pulled a wry face, shrugged their shoulders and moved on after the land prices plunged following a rumour that the capital city's centre would not be moved there.
A master construction plan is just a sketch but many people believe it is a reality, as though it had already been formally agreed by a State agency. Such an "unfeasible" master plan should not have been made public.
Where would you suggest the administrative centre of the capital be located?
It must be placed where King Ly Thai To situated the city 1,000 years ago.
It is here where West Lake, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ba Dinh District, and the Old Quarter converge. This place is also the highest and driest position. Ha Noi's location is particularly beautiful.
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News