The old French quarter of Hanoi is clearly identified in the city thanks to its specificities:
- Its generously sized checkerboard layout which gives it a certain functional interest.
- The concentration and quality of colonial buildings which enriches its built heritage. These buildings have, for most of them, kept or regained a function: administration, equipment, shops, offices, restaurant, housing, etc.
- A very strong presence of vegetation thanks to the exceptional abundance of the roadside trees, the quality of its afforestation in the public gardens and green spaces... Its great richness.
The heritage issue of this quarter depends on its ability to maintain and strengthen this green network which, as often in old cities, follows the network of history.
The founding idea of the French town planners when they designed this quarter was to draw a garden city, offering a pleasant living environment to the settlers, which could attenuate the nostalgia due to isolation.
Today the challenges of vegetation in the city go far beyond the simple urban landscape; it makes possible to fight effectively against the environmental dangers to which Hanoi is particularly exposed:
• Urban density entails compensating with green spaces to make cities livable. According to the WHO, the minimum ratio to consider is 10 m2 of green space per inhabitant. In Hanoi, which has 28,000 inhabitants per km2, this ratio is 1 m2 of green space per inhabitant...
• Pollution is reduced by the presence of green spaces (they filter dust and capture carbon)
• Urban heat islands continue to worsen with global warming. By gradually filling in its lakes and reducing its gardens, Hanoi can no longer cool off while the temperatures continue to climb.(Successive heat records in 2017 then 2019 up to 43 degrees in Hanoi)
The urban value of the quarter is due to the quality of its public spaces:
The checkerboard layout is globally a very homogeneous urban fabric. The architectural value of the French quarter is due to the particularity of its hybrid heritage, inherited from imported typologies which, in most cases, have been revisited and adapted to the local context.
This heritage is made up of both monumental constructions which were intended for administrations, prestigious residences and other representative urban functions and more modest constructions intended in particular for the accommodation of French or Vietnamese executives of the administration.
This international tertiary sector is more concentrated in this French quarter because of its strategic central position, its complete functional urban structure and its good accessibility. The reverse of this attractiveness is the fact that the circulation of motorcycles and cars takes precedence over other urban uses.
To date, all the functions are still represented in this district: housing but also administrative services, shops, facilities; however some axes have a stronger commercial vocation than others.
This diversity is also one of the assets that we must try to consolidate.
The management of mobility and the redevelopment of public spaces must contribute to this.
Public space is undoubtedly the place where urban quality stakes are the most significant and visible.
The Hoàn Kiem district represents the major part of the historic city of Hanoi, with many remarkable sites and spaces, bearers of historical, cultural, symbolic and spiritual values.
All actions on public spaces in the district are the subject of particular attention and great vigilance about the quality of their achievements.
After the period of conquest by the French, Hanoi is restructured in order to become a real French city in the Far East; the implemented architecture and urban planning will play an important role in remodeling the existing city and creating new urban areas.
The principles of classical town planning by Adolphe Alphand («Les promenades de Paris», fundamental work of Alphand’s action in Paris was published in 1873) were then implemented in Hanoi: wide sidewalks on each side of the roadways, alignment of trees also on each side of the roadways and integration of networks into the road system (water, sewage, electricity).
It is clear that from the end of the 19th century, to make Hanoi a French city, the colonial administration (in particular the municipal road department and then the civil buildings department or the central architecture department) based its action on the one hand on the construction of public buildings to house the public services necessary for any French city, and on the other hand on the creation of a public space as a support for social exchanges and an urban lifestyle also typical of large French cities.
Thus, the streets, boulevards, squares and public gardens of Hanoi represent less a French presence imposed by an authoritarian power, than a society that wants to be integrative, modern and displaying an urban way of life thought of as universal.
It’s a matter of designing an urban project in the historic center of Hanoi, an example of a qualitative public space, providing solutions in terms of pedestrian mobility.
It is also a matter of highlighting the surrounding architectural heritage integrating the urban and landscape heritage specific to downtown Hanoi.
Being an urban design project in an area with a high heritage and tourist potential, the proposal is a sustainable urban.
The call for expertise from a private Ile-deFrance urban planning agency (DE-SO) aims to promote French excellence in urban design, considering the place and its existing qualities, the enhancement of heritage elements and of the vegetation.
The strong presence of plants in this district of Hanoi is intimately linked to its original design as a garden city.
The value of its urban afforestation is due to the historical relationship they have with the architecture inherited from the old French Quarter of Hanoi.
To this heritage value of a green urban landscape one must add now its environmental value, a crucial point today.
Ensuring and developing the sustainability of the rich tree heritage of this district of Hanoi is essential to maintain in the long term the ecosystem services provided by trees:
- The thermal regulation of the city with the reduction of heat islands, the reduction of urban pollution (carbon sequestration and absorption of pollutants, etc.)
- Rainwater regulation and soil protection. Their role as a major player in the landscape and as a support for biodiversity, their impact on comfort and human health, etc.
- The presence of nature in the city is also acclaimed by city dwellers for the enrichment of the social good??? and the environment it provides, which is particularly valuable in a dense city.
Remember that in Hanoi, the ratio of green space per inhabitant is 0.9 m2 instead of 10 m2 minimum as recommended by the WHO.
Tree species providing greater thermal comfort during hot weather will be preferred...
The effect of this shade associated with the evapotranspiration effect of the trees lowers the air temperature of a planted street by 10 to 15 degrees in Hanoi during the hottest hours (3 p.m.).
Dense clumps of shrubs will provide cool screens as close as possible to the benches in the public gardens.
It will also be a matter of reinforcing the presence of water in all its forms (rehabilitated fountain, body of water or water mirror, misters)
The promotion of public spaces in the Opera area of Hanoi aims to qualify this emblematic historic area of the capital.
The new Dien Hong square is based on two fundamental principles:
- Reclaim the place of pedestrians in this heritage area denatured by the supremacy of spaces occupied by cars and motorcycles.
- Consolidate and strengthen the presence of plants to meet the challenges of global warming and air pollution to which the city of Hanoi is increasingly exposed.
- More space and comfort for pedestriansThe public spaces of the Opera areas tend to be more and more monopolized by moving or parking vehicles causing a degradation of the urban space: degradation of the visual perception of this emblematic heritage area of Hanoi, environmental degradation - air heat, disappearance of other street uses due to too much traffic.
Without a strong will from the authorities to protect the quality of spaces in the city center, this situation will only tend to get worse.
Channeling the place of vehicles makes possible to preserve all the uses of public spaces to maintain a lively, commercial and attractive area.
The arrival of the metro in the center of Hanoi (station near Hoan Kiem) will have a strong area of influence in the area and requires the development of a real pedestrian plan dedicated to future users who will flock to the center.
The reconquest of public spaces in the center of Hanoi comes in several actions:
- The widening of the sidewalks of streets or avenues when the size of the infrastructures allows it, certain roads being oversized with regard to traffic.
- The pedestrianization of streets or alleys that are not essential to the traffic of the area.
- Fight against the congestion of the public space by providing obstacles to the access of cars and motorcycles on the sidewalks and a judicious location of furniture and lighting.
- Plan a continuity of materials for mineral soils and street furniture by qualifying them. A gray granite, a noble and elegant material, would be available in slabs or paving stones on all of these old pedestrian areas, the squares, the gardens.
- Make road crossings comfortable with slightly raised pedestrian platforms or crossing sidewalks in granite too.
- Revise the lighting of the area
- Provide a signage dedicated to pedestrian
spaces (directions and journey times to the
different areas of the city center),
- Develop shady areas thanks to the refreshing canopies of trees or, as the case may be, with velums, awnings (development of awnings on Trang Tien Street)
- Enhance the network of existing public gardens to reinforce the «island of freshness» effect in the urban space
- Highlight existing perspectives on heritage buildings. From an urban point of view, the enhancement of perspectives on heritage buildings must be systematically sought with spatial arrangements underlined by an appropriate lighting.
Garden square built by the French in 1897 and completed in 1901 to create a public space close to institutions such as in the French city centers and to commemorate the Deputy Governor General of Indochina Léon Jean Laurent Chavassieux (1848 - 1895).
A balanced triangular shape, with an area of 4488 square meters,
Grassed areas: 35.6% of the total area of the garden. Surface of the paths approximately 57.2%
In the center, the fountain, emblem of the garden.
Historical value: the square has become the oldest fountain in Hanoi, Architectural value for its eastern and western combination (8 dragons and 4 copper toads)
The square, setting for prestigious eventsEmblematic place of luxury and elegance.
Artistic events (fashion show for the opening ceremony of the Fashion Week, etc.)
Spot photo/drawing of the symbolic point of the fountain.
Place visited by tourists, emblematic of the old French quarter.
- Reinterpret the French-style public garden in a contemporary way.
- Recompose the public garden from the fountain, the planted lawns and flowerbeds.
- Prioritize the spaces between the central area and the periphery of the garden.
- Maintain all uses (except if possible the parking lot facing the Metropole Hotel and the access of motorcycles in the garden).
- Reinforce the freshness island effect, add trees to areas exposed to sun radiations, reduce soil sealing, adapt the choice of materials, etc.
- Installation of planted strips along the sidewalks over 70 cm to isolate the garden from the road (visual erasure of the pavements of the avenues, visual continuity effect with
the opposite sidewalks, blocking of motorcycle access).
- Provide species to obtain high canopies freeing up views towards the built fronts and in particular the Palace and the Bank. Trim the foliage of existing trees to provide more transparency.
- Review furniture and lighting.
The lighting principle highlights the major public buildings of the area and the heritage urban axes, avoiding spectacular lighting effects.
The lighting reveals the architectural and plastic values of the monuments, their belonging to an urban ensemble with its scale. The objective is to give the city of Hanoi the tools to design identity public spaces that are unique to the Vietnamese capital, taking into account the characteristics of the French Quarter.
The lighting system is made up of a framework of decorative candelabra whose function is to light up pedestrian areas and create legible lines over long distances, and therefore perspective effects.
The goal is not to increase the luminosity on road pavements.
At crossing points and pedestrian crossings, the lighting can be reinforced by functional lighting providing more power in terms of LUX.
The luminosity of the garden will be more important and colder than the one of the surrounding streets in order to create a contrast and a visual focus. The new lighting in the garden will also be functional and reassuring.
Add more green space visible from the car lanes while protecting and securing the interior of public gardens.
Clear perspectives on heritage buildings by freeing the gardens of all visual pollution (cars, motorcycles, objects, kiosks)
Qualify mineral soils (noble granite) in opposition to asphalt composite spaces of traffic lanes.
Sponsored by PRX-Vietnam (Emmanuel Cerise),
AFD and Hanoi city people’s committee
The project to improve the urban quality of a public space in Hanoi is the second activity of the first component of the project «Quality of life / Quality of the city» - QV2.
This component aims to initiate an innovative approach aimed at improving urban quality, the growing aspirations of city dwellers and the concern of the public authorities of the city of Hanoi in order to meet this demand.
Maîtrise d’oeuvre :
DE-SO Asia Lead architecte
Olivier Souquet, Architecte
Phạm Hoàng Nguyên, Architecte chef de projet
Nguyễn Xuân Trang, Architecte 3D visualisation
Trang Truong Vu Thanh, Architecte junior
Trần Thu Hà , Paysagiste senior
Concept and authorship supervision