Urban Heritage Management in Vietnam - Natural and Social Risk

Urban Heritage Management in Vietnam - Natural and Social Risk
(A Case Study on Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi)

Le Thi Thuy Ha

The urban heritage is the ensemble of individual heritage assets and its interaction with social, economic and environmental issues. It is the factor which makes any city unique.
In Vietnam, the uniqueness of Hanoi city was successful to absorb Western and Eastern planning philosophies and cultural influences in the past. Located in the heart of Hanoi, the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was built in the 11th century, marking the independence of Vietnam. It was the centre of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption. This urban heritage reflects a unique South-East Asian culture at the crossroads between influences coming from China and the ancient Kingdom of Champa. It has become the 900th site to be inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2010.
However, this urban heritage property is exposed to natural and man-made disasters which threaten its integrity and may compromise its value.
In terms of natural risk, the heritage's monuments are already being affected by climatic and environmental factors. High humidity and heat typical of Vietnam's tropical monsoon climate is a favorable environment for microorganisms, mold development. Archaeological monuments located primarily at depths below the ground always bear the impact of the aquifers, water level and flooding due to storm water resistant.
The Thang Long Imperial Citadel locates in the centre of a large capital city in Asia with high-speed development. With those features, Hanoi on the one hand, has opportunities but on the other hand face with challenges in preservation of the site within the context of urban expansion.
Because the site is largely surrounded by Government buildings, commercial and residential development pressure is lower than anywhere else in Hanoi. However, the separation this site into 2 parts under the management of 2 different agencies (Ministry of Construction and Hanoi People's Committee) can also affect the overall management and enhancement of the value of urban heritage. It can also be considered "man-made risk" which has impacted of conservation and development of this area.
The effectiveness of heritage conservation work based on the successful management of natural and social risk taking place in this site. Because the risk is inevitable, so to better manage the urban heritage need to identify and "orient" the risk on the basis of respect for the protection and enhancement of the value of the heritage, limiting the natural and social risk could affect the this area.

Key words: urban heritage, urban development, risk management, heritage conservation, Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi

Arch. Le Thi Thuy Ha, MSc
Deputy Manager of the Division for Urban Development and Architectural Building Research
Vietnam Institute of Architecture
Urban and Rural Planning (VIAP)
Ministry of Construction of Vietnam