Sustainable development of ancient quarters in Hanoi City

The Hanoi Ancient Quarter (AQ) dates back to the founding days of the City and is therefore of great historical value. The attractive appearance of the AQ has been threatened by the development and urbanization process. From 1954 to nowadays, there have been many influxes of immigrated and migrated people. The structure of social and business relations changed. During the phase of state economic planning and administration no attention was paid to preservation.

The renovation policy, which started in the mid-eighties, brought an economic revitalization to Hanoi and its Ancient Quarter. The economic structure was transformed towards strengthening trade and the service sectors. Economic liberalization has shown a boom of the private business sector and a sharp increase in unregulated business activity. The economic growth helped inhabitants to raise their living standards. Consequently, their needs also increased. A series of illegal building activities appeared due to the demand for expanding living and business spaces. Most of the houses were built in small spaces (tube-houses) because the land prices increased drastically. Cultural and religious buildings were destroyed and replaced by model houses, inordinate shop-houses or mini hotels to meet the demands of tourists.

Traffic in the ancient quarters rose drastically and as a result of environmental pollution, living conditions here have been downgraded.

Besides the characteristic changes in appearance, the demographic situation of Hanoi AQ has been altered deeply. The typical unregulated developments of transition periods changed the space and structure of Hanoi AQ.

Under the pressure of external impacts and internal requirements, Hanoi AQ is characterized by the following contradictions:

  1. poor and degraded physical environment versus vital social environment
  2. poor infrastructure versus thriving economic activities
  3. over-crowded population versus limited space and
  1. tourism development versus preservation of the district

To answer the key question how to manage external impacts and internal requirements, the managers & leaders of Hanoi AQ began searching solutions for the above mentioned problematic issues.

A pilot project under Japanese guidance was carried out to identify the value of the AQ under the aspects of economic development, improvement of living conditions and preservation of traditional values. Unregulated developments are leading to socioeconomic spatial changes in Hanoi AQ. It is essential to mobilize resources and international co-operation for improving and preserving Hanoi AQ as well as to change physiognomic characteristics of Hanoi city, a capital of Vietnam.