Since Ho Chi Minh City has rotated its axis to face the Saigon River, the Department of Planning and Architecture of Ho Chi Minh City held a workshop on planning to promote the potential and advantages of the Saigon River. enCity’s CEO, Dzung Do Nguyen was invited to share his thoughts at the event, and elucidated the audience with his new approach: A planner must understand the perspectives of a historian, an environmentalist, an economist, and a citizen.
Dzung speaking at the workshop
The entirety of Ho Chi Minh City is currently oriented using the Saigon River as its axis and positioning the sea as the facade. This aligns the development “towards the hearts of the people”; the city opens up to nature, catching the cool breeze from the sea. Therefore, the rotation of Ho Chi Minh City towards the Saigon River exploits the advantages of riverfront developments, inspiring people. In the past 20 years, the population of Saigon has doubled and the area of concrete used has quadrupled, but urban development has not been kind to the river: only about 5% of its length is now public space – parks, promenades, harbor spaces or open spaces. There is much left wanting in the use of water elements in public space, and open space. Mr Dzung proposed some solutions:
(1) Reserve more space for water, since 7% of the Ho Chi Minh City area is expected to flood by 2050. These spaces should combine both the Sai Gon rivers and lakes in the city’s landscape, making water surfaces the landmark identity of Ho Chi Minh City.
(2) Use the riverview for urban façade, integrated with the landscape, and concurrently turn the riverside into public spaces as both an identity and development opportunity.
(3) Increase and reallocate land use to create public spaces to exploit land value. Dzung cited examples of incentive policies in Singapore and Japan, where benefits increased with larger land allotment for public spaces. The government should increase the coefficient to reclaim the river surface for public space.
(4) Integrate green parks into the urban development project, including developing townships with green areas instead of consolidating people in one area and developing the park in a separate area.
All expert opinions at the workshop will be collated for Ho Chi Minh City leaders to develop a more practical and effective economic development planning project along the Saigon River in the upcoming future.